Do Companies Need a Director of Remote Work for This New Era?

If your company has shifted to remote and/or hybrid work, you know that the new schedule can become quite complex. Not all team members might be present in the office at the same time; different time zones can insert additional complexity into planning meetings; and that’s before you tackle tricky issues such as cybersecurity and VPN access.

Some larger companies have already appointed executives tasked with overseeing remote work. For example, there’s a director of remote work at Facebook, and Dropbox has a “Head of Virtual First.” Should your organization consider designing a similar role?

“Generally I think these, you know, special-purpose job titles at the executive suite are kind of silly, and it’s a marker of nothing’s going to happen there, right? But I think in this case it probably is sensible,” Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the Wharton School, recently told Marketplace.org.

In theory, a role managing remote and hybrid work would need to touch on everything from workplace logistics to ensuring that projects remain on-schedule and on-budget. It would require intense “soft skills” such as empathy and communication. Without a tight feedback loop between managers and employees, things might fall quickly into chaos.

However, it seems that many companies aren’t listening to their workforces when it comes to hybrid and remote work. Some 66 percent of executives reported designing their post-pandemic policies with “little to no direct input from employees,” according to a new Future Forum Pulse survey. And that’s a ticking time-bomb when it comes to retention and morale: “Employees who don’t believe their company ‘is being very transparent regarding post-pandemic remote-working policies’ report substantially lower levels of job satisfaction (-26.7%), feeling valued (-24.6%) and perceived equity (-25.2%), and they’re nearly two times more likely to disagree with the statement ‘I am excited about the future of my company,’” the report added. 

In survey after survey, technologists have made it clear that they want hybrid or all-remote work (as well as great work-life balance). Given the complexity of implementing remote and hybrid workplaces, though, executives should consider appointing someone to overlook the hybrid/remote work transition. Done effectively, hybrid and remote work can result in happier employees—and happier employees tend to stick around.