The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies all over the world to rethink how they work and operate. Supply chains have been completely disrupted, factories have all but shut down, and many tech companies and white collar teams have transitioned to work from home exclusively.
Working from home is shown to carry many benefits. When working remotely, people tend to have much higher productivity, and have higher morale, reducing employee turnover. On top of that, nobody has to deal with traffic, hours become more flexible, and employers get to save thousands of dollars on things like rent and office supplies.
The only catch is that getting started with remote work can be difficult; there are right ways and wrong ways to approach working from home, and if you don’t have a good system in place, it could collapse, completely neutralizing the benefits you would have received in other conditions.
That’s why businesses everywhere are looking to hire someone responsible for ensuring home-based work flows smoothly: The Head of Remote Work.
Enter the Head of Remote Work
A Head of Remote Work doesn’t become necessary until a significant percentage of your workforce is working from home. Once you get to that point, you’ll need some kind of director responsible for coordinating resources and designing plans to work remotely as efficiently as possible.
Job responsibilities vary, but the main priorities of a Head of Remote Work include:
Auditing, vetting, and selecting tools for remote work. First, your Head of Remote Work will be responsible for auditing, vetting, and selecting tools for remote work. There are hundreds of platforms that purportedly make remote work easier, giving people the chance to communicate and collaborate with each other, or store their information in the cloud. How can you tell if these platforms are worth the money? Are they actively making your team more productive, or are they causing more issues than they’re solving?
Hiring, monitoring, and evaluating remote workers. Building a remote workforce is tricky. It’s harder to evaluate performance, and it’s harder to gauge the “fit” of your team. Someone in your organization needs to be responsible for hiring new people, monitoring your existing hires, and providing feedback that allows those workers to continue growing.
Building a remote workforce is tricky. It’s harder to evaluate performance, and it’s harder to gauge the “fit” of your team.
Ensuring remote workers have all the resources they need to succeed. Earlier this year, many workers improvised their transition to working from home; they’ve never worked from home before, and didn’t have the resources in place to be successful. A Head of Remote Work can ease this transition, checking in with employees to ensure they have the devices, internet connection, ergonomic furniture, and other necessities.
Designing and executing new policies for remote work. Despite having a remote workforce, many organizations don’t have a specific remote work policy. The Head of Remote Work will be responsible for drafting and enforcing new policies, including new security standards for remote workers, rules and procedures on flexible hours, and more.
Reforming operations to be remote-first. Most organizations that transition to a remote work model do so by simply translating their existing work procedures into a new remote environment; in other words, they do what they did before, only remotely. This is highly ineffective. A Head of Remote Work can make the push to make operations remote-first. In other words, you’ll have to reevaluate your company values, rethink your current operations, and design an entirely new organization from the ground up, with remote work in mind.
Coaching leaders and managers in effective remote work approaches. Existing leaders often struggle to adapt to a remote work environment, since they’re so used to a traditional approach. Heads of remote work can coach leaders on new concepts, like how to host an effective meeting remotely, and how to motivate a remote workforce.
Creating long-term plans for future development. You’ll also rely on a Head of Remote Work to make long-term plans for future development. How much of your workforce can you transition to work remotely? How will your remote work policies change in the future?
Key Challenges to Overcome in Remote Work
- Productivity. Most people who work from home see an increase in productivity. However, this is far from a guarantee. To be productive, people have to have all the right tools and resources, and they have to be adequately connected.
- Morale. While some people thrive while working from home, others can suffer from loneliness, depression, and other afflictions. You’ll need to be proactive if you want to keep morale respectable.
- Communication. With fewer meetings and greater distance, remote teams often find it harder to communicate with each other. Better infrastructure and firm communication policies can neutralize this threat.
- Cost-efficiency. Remote work can save money, but it can also cost you, especially if you’re paying for new devices and new tools on a constant basis. You need to understand the cost-efficiency of all your remote work decisions.
- Security. It’s also harder to ensure the security of your organization when everyone is working remotely, so you need some kind of cybersecurity strategy in place.
How to Qualify for a Head of Remote Work Position
If you’re interested in becoming a Head of Remote Work, there are a few things you can do now to improve your qualifications. For starters, you can get experience as a leader in a remote work environment; having a few years leading a team of people in a remote setting can be incredibly valuable. You can also take courses in remote work management, and study existing company remote work policies so you’re better equipped to discuss the position in an interview.
Since this is a relatively new position, there aren’t many firm expectations for how you’re supposed to qualify for it, or handle it once you’re hired. Use this as an opportunity to develop yourself, and forge a new path for your career.