Will the Head of Remote continue trending in 2023?

Managing a remote team requires a different way of working. Most leaders have spent most of their career working in an office, so it’s no surprise that in 2020 over 40% of leaders said they felt unprepared to manage a remote team 1. We’ve come a long way since then, but there’s still a lot of ambiguity around managing dispersed teams. With remote work here to stay, more organizations are calling for an appointed leader dedicated to effectively managing a distributed team.

The surprising job titles for remote leaders

In 2020, 'Head of Remote' was predicted to be the hottest role of the year. Since then, big-name companies like Meta, Dropbox, Deloitte and Google have hired dedicated remote work leaders. While ‘Head of Remote’ may seem like a straightforward title, it isn't as common as you would think. We expect to see more organizations level up their remote/hybrid operations in 2023 - and they won’t be afraid to embrace unusual job titles. Here are some of our favourite choices so far 2:

Dropbox: Head of Virtual First

Upwork: Director of Remote Organizational Effectiveness LinkedIn: Vice President, Flex Work

  • Careem: Director of Remote
  • Unilever: VP, Future of Work
  • Deloitte: Global Future of Work Leader
  • Cloudflare: Head of Distributed Work
  • Atlassian: VP, Team Anywhere
  • Chevron: Global Lead of Future of Work Strategies

What does a Head of Remote do?

Whatever the preferred title, this role shares a common purpose: to boost worker effectiveness in a distributed setting. The Head of Remote is a change-maker and advocate who works across all departments to spearhead cultural shifts needed to create new ways of working. They are tasked with developing processes, workflows, principles, policies and values that support remote and hybrid work. Other tasks might also include:

  • Advocate for the needs of the remote worker
  • Identify and replace office-first work habits
  • Experiment with and roll out time-zone-inclusive best practices
  • Document a remote working culture and create a remote-first playbook
  • Advise senior leadership on best practices for managing teams working remotely
  • Design remote-first onboarding, training and development programs
  • Promote employee engagement, remote collaboration and a sense of belonging

What’s the ideal background for a Head of Remote?

A background in People, Operations, Communications and Human Resources are an obvious choice. Some less traditional routes include Product Management and Design. GitHub - the world’s largest all-remote organization - believes you should choose a Head of Remote according to the challenges your company want to solve 2.

Organizational redesign

If your focus is on change management and restructuring how teams work together across the organization, then you should consider hiring a person with a background in People Operations.

Repurposing office space

If you want to reduce or repurpose physical office space and transition to a more hybrid/remote-first set-up, consider hiring someone with a finance or real estate background.

Communication and advocacy

If your organization has a high level of remote maturity and you want to focus on employer advocacy, consider hiring someone with a marketing or communications background.

Does your company need a head of remote?

More companies recognize their need for remote-work experts. According to one study, the number of tech companies with dedicated remote work leaders increased from 2% to 15% between 2020 and 2021 3.​​ While not all organizations need a designated leader, some could benefit greatly.

Your company should consider a head of remote if:

  • You are planning to implement a remote-first growth strategy
  • Your leadership team is struggling to manage the needs of remote employees
  • Your organization has adopted a hybrid work model

What’s the future of the role?

Like any change management role, there is a risk that once the change occurs the role will become redundant. On the other hand, if remote organizations become commonplace, the role could evolve into something more. Some of the world’s leading business schools have put remote leadership on the curriculum - a nod to the expectations of future leaders. Is the Head of Remote poised to become the CEO of tomorrow?

 

Are you planning to expand your team across different locations? Our well-networked recruitment consultants can help you find the best digital talent worldwide. Get in touch to learn more.

 

References:

  1. Remote Managers Are Having Trust Issues by Sharon K. Parker, Caroline Knight and Anita Keller, Harvard Business Review, July 30, 2020
  2. Head of Remote: how to hire, job postings, job description, courses, and certifications, GitHub
  3. Remote Work Trends, T3Advisors, February 2020