Businesses are increasingly hiring a Head of Remote to unleash the full power of flexible working. But what does the role entail, and how can it be implemented?
Pre-Covid, remote working might have been considered a perk, but the last two years have shown us that we really can collaborate effectively from multiple locations. Individuals’ wellbeing has been a decisive factor in the practice becoming mainstream in many industries.
As more firms take control of the hybrid environment, we are steadily understanding the ethos of a job whose applications and titles can vary from sector to sector.
Recently appointed as Quora’s People Operations Manager, Kara Ortbal leads the platform’s push to “create something much better” than when all personnel were in the same building. For Annie Dean, Facebook’s Director of Remote Work, the task is about forging a level playing field so that each staff member can “meaningfully participate.”
Twitter’s VP of Real Estate, Workplace and Remote Experience, Tracy Hawkins, says the social media giant is allowing employees to move around while remaining “part of the company.”
“We want to be able to retain [and attract] people. It should be that you can pretty much work in whatever location,” Hawkins told Buzzsprout.
A one-way trend
Executives that ignore the example set by larger companies risk alienating a growing talent pool that expects flexibility.
Well over half (64%) of US professionals want a more hybrid approach, a KPMG Advisory survey finds, while an ONS report reveals that 85% of UK employees currently operating remotely would prefer to continue to split the weekday between the office and the home.
But if the way forward is clear, “there’s no rulebook for navigating [the] level of change” involved, says LinkedIn’s VP of Flexible Work, Shannon Hardy. Further, just 19% of CEOs and HR Directors in Europe say they feel “very effective” at understanding how digital tools and team wellbeing can dovetail to optimise remote culture.
Right person for the job
Whatever the nuances, it’s safe to say that those chosen for the post should be ready to deal with a multitude of HR issues, from DEI (diversity, equality, and inclusion) to worker wellbeing, so a broad skill set and experience base are essential.
GitLab’s Head of Remote, Darren Murph sees himself “at the intersection of culture, operations, people, talent branding, marketing and communication,” in an “intrinsically cross-functional” role.
Core responsibilities ensure that team members “acclimatise well to remote, give themselves permission to embrace [GitLab’s] values and operate with remote-first workflows, and are equipped to share learnings with those outside of the GitLab organisation,” Murph says.
For Jonathon Killeen, Head of Remote for Hopin, the right candidate should be “comfortable partnering with numerous and different teams, getting involved in everything and putting the employees at the heart of every decision.”
That last bit is crucial – employees must be front and centre of this process. At a time when two-thirds of companies fail to give subsidies for home office equipment, people must be given the tools to be at their best.
Tracy Hawkins sat down with Twitter chiefs to think “holistically” about the issue. They “gave workers a productivity allowance…and set up internal pages so that employees could order peripherals,” Hawkins says.
Strategise now, get the edge later
Too much is at stake for bosses to allow hybrid to simply freewheel as it builds momentum. Even if an element of experimentation is involved, the C-suite must proactively “create a remote-first workplace, instead of just a remote-friendly one,” Job van der Voort, CEO at Remote, recommends.
The sooner the boardrooms treat this as a priority issue, the faster firms can tap into a truly global talent pool, build a diverse team of top performers, and forge sustainable, competitive edge for years to come.
At HR Spectrum, we know that through collaboration with individuals and companies who you know and trust, you can achieve smoother, more effective workflows and lasting success.
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