Should You Hire a Director of Remote Work?

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Options for remote work are much more vast than they were even a year ago. As employees and employers navigate a new workplace, new challenges will arise around employee engagement, talent acquisition, productivity, and benefits. Traditional HR department functions may not take these challenges into consideration from a remote or hybrid perspective.

In response to the evolving workplace, tech giants like Facebook are hiring directors of remote work to tackle these issues head-on. The first known instance of the role began at GitLab in 2019 and the open core company continues to advise other firms on remote work management.

But before you start crafting the job description for a director of remote work, how do you know if your organization needs one? What are the common responsibilities for this role? Can they be integrated into any roles you have on your team currently?

What does a director of remote work manage?

While the actual day-to-day activities are dependent on the organization itself, it’s fair to say that the Director of Remote Work is responsible for attracting, retaining, and engaging offsite employees. This responsibility usually extends to developing and implementing the company’s vision for its remote workforce. We can see this same idea reflected in Facebook’s job description, which emphasized the importance of building a long-term WFH strategy.

There is some overlap between this role and a traditional HR or people operations position. The Director of Remote Work will create benefits packages to bring in new talent and ensure that employees have the resources they need to do their jobs well. They play a big role in the company’s culture and may spearhead internal campaigns around values. They’re often in charge of hiring criteria, training and development programs, and helping to resolve conflicts within the office.

However, directors of remote work have unique challenges to overcome that differ from the traditional HR function, including:

  • Connecting in-office and remote employees to prevent silos and ensure collaboration
  • Translating in-office perks to at-home benefits
  • Researching and setting criteria for remote worker pay (This is critical to setting yourself apart from the competition as less than 25% provided any kind of stipend to remote employees last year.)
  • Finding and sharing resources to help WFH employees work productively
  • Determining which positions make sense in a remote capacity and which need to include an in-office component
  • Reviewing remote work tools and technologies
  • Taking in feedback from employees through regular surveys and implementing changes

Related: How Will Your Company Define WFH Guidelines?

Who needs a director of remote work?

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of remote work by as much as ten years. It makes sense that companies are looking for ways to make the WFH lifestyle effective and sustainable.

However, as Paige Hanley, Director of Program Management at PayScale, explains, a remote work strategy takes more than just creating a job description. “You can’t have a director of something until you have a strategy around it. A lot of companies are still figuring out what their strategy is around remote work.” If you’re still in the early stages of determining how you want remote work to function at your company, your time may be better spent conceptualizing and developing a plan for remote employees.

Also, consider that building out and retaining your remote workforce is a task that exists across multiple functions within your company. A director of remote work can certainly help to coordinate across HR, facilities, finance, and executive leadership, especially if that work follows a strategic vision.

In some cases, you may be able to integrate tactics for the remote employee experience into existing roles at your company. Also, consider the overall percentage of remote employees in your workforce. As Hanley explains, “At Payscale, we’re seeing that many companies are not just doing remote. Hybrid approaches are becoming really common. A director of remote work could be too narrow of a focus for some.”

Regardless of whether you decide to hire a director of remote work, there’s no doubt that the employee experience matters, whether it’s in-office, at home, or a little of both. 25 to 30% of the US workforce is expected to work from home at least a few days a week by the end of this year. Give them resources to collaborate, brainstorm, and create with colleagues across digital lines with Vibe’s interactive smartboard.

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