Hiring a Head of Remote Work?

How to recruit, hire and set up a Head of Remote Work role for success

The role Head of Remote Work has the critical job of ensuring every remote employee is set up for success. Because remote workers are not sitting in the same office, there are many more factors to manage to create a high performing work environment. This role is in charge of cultivating remote collaboration, work culture, and programming the employee experience. 

A great culture is not about perks or swag. It’s about people feeling connected to the work. That means cultivating communication that reinforces connections to the purpose, to the knowledge, and most importantly: to each other. Ultimately the Head of Remote Work is in charge with making it possible (and easy) for employees to build these connections. 

Head of Remote Work coordinating locations on a map

Post Covid-19, most companies are realizing remote work isn’t an obstacle to overcome. Remote work, like a great work culture, can be and should be a competitive advantage. Remote and flexible work policies will help your remote company recruit more people, not to mention the best people, since you can recruit from anywhere in the world.

What are the job responsibilities for a Head of Remote Work?

  • Communicating guidance for managers & leadership
    • Develop new employee onboarding processes for managers & leadership
    • Develop guidance and systems for managers around communication, reporting & setting expectations with remote staff
    • Provide ongoing leadership coaching to problem solve issues related to remote work
    • Produce a quarterly company culture report for all managers and leadership to understand successes and challenges of the remote work culture
  • Personalized onboarding for every new employee
    • Plan logistics for each remote employee
      • Technology hardware needs (like a computer and wifi)
      • Systems access
      • Office environment needs
    • Implement an “onboarding buddy” system so that each new remote employee has a close collaborator on day one
    • Manage “white glove” onboarding to welcome and guide each new employee through their initial time joining the company
      • Provide software walkthroughs
      • Provide playbook for healthy remote collaboration techniques 
      • Provide an org chart walkthrough
      • Provide a Slack / MSFT Teams walkthrough
      • Provide information & knowledge tours
      • Provide a relevant reading list of internal knowledge
    • Run 1st Friday casual team calls to connect new employees
  • Inclusion
    • Provide unconscious bias training
    • Cultivate geographic & native culture appreciation
    • Implement system with HR for discreet messaging for harassment or other offenses
  • Advising on systems & communication etiquette 
    • Review and provide oversight of how systems are utilized for efficiency
      • Slack / MSFT Team channel management
      • File management
      • Knowledge management
    • Teach asynchronous communication best practices
    • Setup geographic time zone mapping
  • Moment Planning
    • Develop playbooks for activation of special employee moments like first day, promotions, birthdays, birth of a child, marriage, and other moments where it’s important to elevate the person.
  • Rituals
    • Implement work rituals to foster employee connectedness. These rituals will be a mix of playful and serious moments customized to better connect people across the work.
    • Deploy automated communication rituals to capture soft knowledge and sentiment (like Unitonomy’s GetCommit).
  • Feedback & Recognition
    • Manage mechanisms for employee expression to make sure people feel heard and leadership absorbs the feelings of the employees (recommend using Unitonomy’s OrgVitals).
    • Track sentiment, the employee experience and employee needs. Elements and feelings tracked include:
      • Connectedness
      • Belonging
      • Stress
      • Capacity
      • Engagement, Burnout & Fatigue
      • Performance as a collaborator
      • Overall culture assessed across 6 matrices
    • Set up a system to formalize and preserve colleague recognition and celebrate team wins.
  • Employee Summaries
    • Capture annual employee summaries to log successes, desires, sentiment data, and performance data. 
    • Deploy system to manage daily employee tracking (suggest Unitonomy’s OrgVitals).
  • HR and back office guidance
    • Payroll
    • Tax compliance
    • Benefits
    • Time off tracking
    • Location tracking for those who work from multiple locations
  • External promotion
    • Capture stories of the work culture for external promotion to help the company leverage the success of the remote work culture as a competitive advantage.

How do you recruit a Head of Remote Work?

Go fishing in the ponds stocked with fish. There are many communities of remote workers to spread awareness of the job opening. In fact, use these communities to get feedback on how to articulate the job posting and what should go into consideration. 

Take a moment to realize that you can hire anyone in the world for this position! The best aspect of having a remote team is that you are now hiring the best people in the world and not just the best from your backyard. Your full-time Head of Remote should be no different: they must be remote too so they appreciate the company culture as the remote team experiences it. 

A good Head of Remote Work job description includes:

  • Definition of the role including responsibilities (see above) 
  • Performance expectations
    • Employee engagement feedback
    • Culture assessment feedback
  • Requirements
    • Related experience (2 year minimum) in operations, culture management, human resources, and/or people operations.
    • Efficient administration and people management skills
    • Excellent record keeping skills & attention to detail
    • Fantastic knowledge of remote best practices & common issues
    • Understanding of employee experience design
    • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
    • Works comfortably under pressure and meets tight deadlines
    • Superb computer literacy and can learn new systems quickly
    • Great listening skills
    • Ability to teach others
    • Remarkable organizational and conflict management skills
    • Strong decision-making and problem solving skills

Before you post your job description, you need to realize the language you use may read differently in different geographical cultures. If you want guidance to avoid offensive phrases, try Textio.

Places to consider communicating the job opening:

If you decide to leverage a recruiter for your remote jobs, make sure they have prior experience before the pandemic with recruiting remote job seekers.

How do you hire a Head of Remote Work?

It’s essential to find someone for the role who has lived the remote work experience so that he or she is equipped with firsthand knowledge. When you are assessing a candidate, make sure you have questions ready that assess how much they understand the remote employee experience. You’re not looking for the perfect solutions in their answers. You’re looking to see if they understand the nuance of the problems they will be solving over the course of their service.

Interview questions to ask:

  • What have been their frustrations of working on a distributed team or with other remote team members?
  • What have they implemented in the past to make communication more effective and efficient? 
  • How would they combat Zoom fatigue and Slack or Microsoft Team channel fatigue?
  • What does remote hiring look like in their eyes?
  • How will the new employee onboarding program look like?

Here are the most critical elements the candidate must possess to be an effective Head of Remote Work:

  • Empathy
  • Effective communicator
  • Problem solver
  • Self-starter
  • Well-organized
  • Experience managing a budget
  • Prior experience, such as:
    • Operations 
    • Culture management 
    • People operations
    • Human resources

How do you set the Head of Remote Work role up for success?

Your strategy for setting up the Head of Remote Work for success should take as much thought and care as the consideration places into the hiring process. Your company is going to spend a lot of money on this role and this role is going to positively affect the performance of all of those working remotely. Don’t just hire a person, invest in the role!

Here are the essential needs that the organisation must provide so that the Head of Remote Work can perform effectively:

  • Leadership buy-in on the importance of work culture and embracing remote work
  • Clear expectations
  • Measurable goals
  • Access to leadership
  • Dedicated budget
  • Influence on systems and tools

Additional Resources & Readings:

Ironically there is no one place with remote work.

Are you a culture consultant? OrgVitals is an end-to-end assessment solution for your clients. Learn more!