Leveling up your remote-game at work isn’t an easy task to do alone. That’s why we always recommend a remote work consultant to save you time and to get the job done properly. While there is a lot that can be learned from online resources and self-taught, like most things in life you can go much further with a teacher and some experience.
It really does seem that a teacher is exactly what most companies will need in the very near future. McKinsey has suggested that there will be a 36% increase in work completed outside of the office after the pandemic, meaning that the scramble is now on to find consultants to manage this change.
While we’re sure most companies aren’t unfamiliar with hiring and taking on consultants, the idea of a remote work consultant is a relatively new one. There is a huge scramble currently for remote work consultants to help companies take the next step and move more towards a remote-first environment. A lot of this demand stems from the work-at-home mini-revolution we’ve experienced over the past year.
To help everyone interested in finding the right remote work consultant for them, we’ve decided here at Remote-how to put together a guide of the crucial things you should be looking for. The remote space is unlike any other… and we like to do things here a bit differently.
Honing your remote skills and learning how to work outside the office really is a different ball game from making large decisions about transitioning to a remote-first setup. While we can all learn more about the techniques that make us more productive working from home, we can’t all manage and implement real remote change without practical experience. This is why we now have such a huge need for remote work consultants.
What makes a good remote work consultant?
A remote work consultant has four key areas we believe they need to represent well to successfully manage remote-first change. With this topic not being within the usual, traditional realm of consulting, we’re really looking at different criteria from say a marketing or business strategy consultant.
For years, traditional consultants have often been against the idea of the mass adoption of remote conditions in the workplace. Now that the balance has shifted towards both employers and employees demanding even more out-of-the-office time, it makes more sense to look for real remote advocates rather than consultants who are just going with the flow.
Arguably the most important trait of a successful remote consultant is their direct experience of working in remote-first companies. This ensures that they have worked remotely not just for their own tasks, but also in dealing and managing with remote HR, meetings, and all other manners of operations. This makes the key difference between someone who has simply worked remotely and someone who has remote-first managing experience.
This difference will turn up a lot throughout the rest of our advice, as we believe that this truly is the key to hiring a great remote consultant. Remote-first companies, i.e ones that work primarily remotely or completely, provide the most well-rounded experience when you are looking for deep knowledge from a consultant.
After direct remote experience, the next criteria on our hit list that we place great importance on is seniority. Any remote consultant worth their salt can be judged on their previous and current remote seniority level. While many of us have worked from home or lead small teams remotely, this, unfortunately, isn’t enough experience at a senior level to implement remote change across a whole company.
We recommend that you only look for senior managers, directors, VPs, C-level, or partners in your search. This is to help ensure the quality of the services that can be offered. Only those who have managed remote changes successfully can provide high-quality advice and relevant experience when it comes to remote change. There is only one chance to make a good start in your company, so we want to make it count
The third area that should normally be covered when it comes to consultants is their direct level of consulting experience. Imparting knowledge and developing strategies are skills that also have to be practiced. Nevertheless, compared to remote experience and seniority this one isn’t as important. You can place a lot of value on people who are still working within remote companies due to their real practical experience.
For example, a Head of Remote from a trusted remote company would be able to do a fantastic job of managing remote change, even without consulting experience. Arguably, they would do a much better job than a remote work consultant who hasn’t worked within a remote company for years and years.
The technology and techniques in use within the remote world change faster than you can even imagine. Keeping up to date with them requires regular interaction and experience that comes from working directly with your own teams and company, rather than just with someone else’s.
Once you’ve found a suitable candidate who looks right for the job and meets your criteria, it always pays off to check their credentials and previous work. While it’s great that we can easily find a whole host of different consultants from around the world, we should be careful to make sure that the work offered is truly representative of them.
Your best bet is to ask for previous testimonials that you can follow up and check on yourself, along with perhaps a case study or two. You may also want to get in touch with previous clients to find out more about their experience. It doesn’t hurt to be overly cautious here as engaging a remote work consultant can be costly.
Touch on All Areas
Your best bet for success is to have a remote work consultant who combines all of the points given above. But don’t be disheartened if you can’t find someone straight away. With this way of working being relatively new in the mainstream, there aren’t many people who have had the chance to grow their consulting experience yet. In time, a larger market for remote consultants will develop. However, for now, we really emphasize that the most important thing is to engage someone who has a solid background working in remote-first companies at a senior level.
Where do I find a remote work consultant?
After knowing the key qualities a remote work consultant should have, you then need to know where to look for them. With the power of the internet, it’s a fairly easy task. Remote work already depends on connecting people around the globe, so getting in touch with someone from the community is fairly simple.
Luckily we now live in a world where making new business contacts and reaching out is as easy as logging onto LinkedIn. It’s a great resource for finding people who can specifically hone in on the problems you are having. You can of course search directly for remote consultants, but it may be that someone who meets the criteria we already set out could be suitable for your needs too.
Until you pay for their premium service, there is a limit however on how many searches you can do when it comes to profiles. To bypass this, we recommend joining groups and communities related to remote work or the specific area of business you operate in. Here you can post your questions and ask for recommendations for help and contacts. Until you have some specifics in mind of exactly who you should be looking for, this is a great option to make sure of other people’s networks.
Although it’s a bit of a cliche, there is always the option to just google it. We often forget that googling is a pretty powerful tool when used well. There’s a wealth of opportunities to be found by researching your remote needs and finding articles, news, and commentary from the remote community.
Remote work embraces its digital side and is well represented online. Successful remote leaders almost always have some online presence with articles, interviews, and other content. When you don’t work in an office, your network has to be remote and reached by digital means… so take advantage of this fact!
If you have a fairly good idea of what you’re looking for and a budget, sending out lots of individual proposals can be a bit of a hassle. LinkedIn or Google probably aren’t the best options to take here. In this case, Upwork can be great for anyone looking for remote work consulting who wants to get offers on the table quickly.
It works like this: clients upload a brief of what they are looking for and a budget. Consultants and freelancers can then be invited specifically to the project. The project can also be opened up to the public marketplace where everyone can take a look. Once the terms have been agreed, Upwork holds onto the money until the work is completed and all parties are happy.
The system here is great for getting any consulting you need done quickly and laid out with a contract, terms, deadlines, and payment. But there is a limitation. Upwork is a platform used by freelancers of all kinds, not just remote consultants. The quality of each consultant also can’t necessarily always be guaranteed. But when you put this into the mix with LinkedIn targeted searches and some simple Google work, you should be able to come up with a solution that works for you.
The Remote-how Platform
The advice given above has come from our experience and knowledge working with teachers, consultants, and experts in the remote field. Using the four-point criteria method and looking in the right places should generally find you someone suitable for what you need. It does however take a lot of time, effort, and most of all patience… which we don’t always have the luxury of having.
To tackle this issue, we’ve developed our own platform to take the work out of the whole process. Essentially, we’re taking all our advice and suggestions and wrapping them all up into a single point of access. Easy.
By registering with our Remote-how Platform, you can find pre-vetted remote consultants who meet all of our criteria laid out above. Companies can post their specific needs and receive offers from remote work consultants. On the other hand, remote experts can offer their itemized services for you to browse through too.
We realize that sometimes people need a complete package, and other times something more specific. To combine both of the options, there is a large degree of customizability in the offers that both companies and consultants can advertise. There are benefits in both of these approaches that we’ll cover more of later on.
After years in the game when it comes to remote work, we already know what makes up a good working relationship with a remote consultant. Our pre-vetting stage takes all the guesswork out of who can provide the quality services that you need. For anyone who needs some extra help and structure in finding the consultant their company needs, your first stop should be the Remote-how Platform.
What areas of expertise should a remote work consultant have?
Unless you are looking for a generalized remote-first consultation for your whole company, there will be certain key topics you want to focus on. When you’re thinking about what it is you need exactly, take a look at the chart below to get a better idea of the different areas of expertise that a remote work consultant can have.
|Area of Expertise||Sub-topics|
|Remote Readiness||Remote strategy, current situation & learnings, expectations vs reality|
|Culture & Values||Organizational culture, peer-to-peer relations|
|Satisfaction & Well-Being||Job satisfaction, socio-emotional well-being|
|Work Organization||Workplace flexibility & ergonomics, productivity and efficiency metrics|
|Communication||Direct communication, meeting habits, company information flow|
|Leadership||Role of leadership, team expectations, struggles and fears|
|Knowledge & Self-Development||Knowledge management, learning and development needs|
|HR Policies||Hiring, onboarding, career development|
For example, if you’re struggling with onboarding new, remote employees and managing team expectations, engage a remote work consultant who is specialized in HR policies & communication.
Let’s dive into each topic further to explore further the motivations you might have and exactly how you can engage a consultant to help.
Of all the areas to explore, this one is by far the most general and more than likely will be used by companies at the beginning of their journey towards a remote-first setup. While people at your company may have experience working remotely, you probably won’t have someone with a more top-down view of how to make your company remote-ready.
To help solve remote readiness issues, you will more often than not be engaging a remote work consultant to take a big picture view of your company. This can involve interviews with key individuals in the company who will have to implement remote strategies in the future.
It’s also worth either revising your remote handbook or getting the consultant to draft/create a new one incorporating their ideas. Workshops on their findings and new strategies are also extremely helpful and should be included in your terms of engagement.
Culture & Values
Culture is more often than not the most difficult part of fine-tuning your remote-first setup. Whether you’re just starting as a remote company or have been trailblazing for years, building up a strong culture is really, really tricky.
Perhaps your current remote rituals are falling flat and employees just aren’t engaging well with one another remotely. You may even be starting from scratch due to not having implemented any cultural strategies during your original transformation.
Culture is built up from shared values and rituals in the remote world. Engage a consultant to help devise your core remote values in the company with help from both employees and management. Once this is done, you can then develop rituals or revise your current ones so that they reflect what is important to everyone.
Satisfaction & Well-Being
Keeping on top of your employees’ satisfaction and well-being is much more difficult when you’re not physically in the same office. Sometimes it’s easy for people to slip off the radar which can be much more dangerous when working from home. The line between work and home can become blurred, and overworking is all too common. These are all problems that affect long-running remote companies and new ones alike.
A remote consultant can be engaged to help set up employee feedback systems that help you to regularly assess satisfaction and well-being. New employee perks programs can be introduced to help with mental and physical well-being. Your consultant could also analyze your remote work processes to see whether they are encouraging a negative work-life balance.
For a company brand new to remote work, figuring out exactly how to organize employee flexibility and the conditions of work can often feel like a stab in the dark. While a lot of companies grow their policies organically over time, this does mean that employees aren’t always working to their full potential. Measuring productivity and efficiency isn’t as easy as in the office, and the same methods will not work remotely.
A remote work consultant should be engaged here to use their previous experience at different companies and design policies that are more suitable to you. Not every method works for every company, so a custom strategy will need to be made. Tracking productivity also requires a different tool stack that they should be able to recommend based on your circumstances.
Your company may have issues with documentation processes which are incredibly important for a remote company. Without correctly documenting meetings and work done, a lot of time can be wasted on having to re-explain what has been going on. Employees working around the globe and in different time zones also need to communicate effectively together according to a set of rules.
A remote work consultant can create different policies for comms and documentation that work best in a remote environment. They can create clear rules for when to use synchronous and asynchronous communication, as well as recommend tools to make communication easier.
Not every manager or team leader at your company who joins will have experience running a department or team remotely before. Their expectations will not necessarily be on the right track of how a remote company should operate. With people bringing in their own knowledge and perhaps some small remote experience, everyone will not be on the same page.
Workshops and direct mentoring would be the best solution when engaging a remote consultant. It would also be worthwhile to have the consultant take stock of the current situation to see where weaknesses currently lie. A policy for team leads could also be created for future use when onboarding new leadership positions.
Knowledge & Self-Development
Best practices when it comes to remote work constantly change and update, so keeping on top of them should be a priority for all employees. It may be that you already have an L&D program that needs updating or you need one building completely.
Your consultant should be able to point you in the right direction of resources or programs that can be offered to all employees. With this information, they can then develop a policy on learning and development with expectations of how employees should engage with what they have. Again, workshops can be given too by the consultant as part of this L&D program.
If you are moving from an office environment, the way that you hire and onboard is drastically different when working remotely. This includes finding the right candidates and retaining them too. There is also a lot to think about when it comes to hiring globally, which is now possible when you don’t need employees within close proximity of your office.
Your remote consultant can help show you the best place to find new hires and redesign your hiring pipeline. They also might have experience in hiring within different countries and the steps you need to take to make sure everything is above board and legal.
How do I work with a remote work consultant?
Working with a consultant when your company is only just beginning to embrace remote work can make it difficult to pinpoint your exact needs. This is why many remote work consultants offer their services in a productized manner as part of a package. This makes it fairly simple to engage them for work and begin straight away with the process of making your business more remote-friendly.
You can usually be more assured of the quality of the work offered as the package is not bespoke and has been used by others before. There’s no need for them to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes you’ll find that you don’t need help in just one area, but that you need a real guiding hand across all aspects of the business.
Assessing Your Needs
Each situation that a company finds itself in when it comes to remote work can be very unique. A one size fits all solution isn’t easy to find for anyone looking to move only some of their company or select teams out of the office. In this case, something more specialized is needed to address directly these targeted areas.
In this way, we recommend you engage any remote consultant with a detailed assessment of your needs. A short description with deliverables is of course key, along with a budget, deadline, and any specific skills needed. You’ll often find that this works better as you can find a consultant specialized in your particular area, rather than one who includes it in a larger package deal.
Finding the Right Person for the Job
Both the approaches here are suitable for different circumstances. So whether you’re looking for an individual service or a complete remote-makeover, it’s worth taking a look at what’s offered in the Remote-how marketplace. If you want a complete transformation, all you need to do is browse through the packages on offer from the pre-vetted consultants. If you already know which areas of expertise you’re looking for on your project, then you can even design your own custom package.
We wanted to combine all of the advice that we have been giving and bring it to you without all the fuss. Finding someone who is the right fit for your company is hard work to find on your own but much easier through the Remote-how platform. There’s no need to check a consultant’s credibility or experience yourself or search through the internet looking for leads.
We’re incredibly happy about the leaps and bounds remote work has made over the past year. It seems even the staunchest of opponents to more flexibility in work have begun to change their minds. But with new circumstances come new issues, and finding a remote consultant is just one of them.
The Remote-how Platform has been developed with the world’s current workplace trends in mind. We’ve never been in a similar position before, so we need a new solution. It will be accessible through our remote-how.com main website along with our other remote services. Both remote work experts and companies looking for consulting services will be able to register and begin making meaningful contacts. We’re incredibly excited to bring our ecosystem together and help companies and consultants make a real change towards embracing remote work.