Is it time for businesses to bring in a Director of Remote Working?


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Although none of us like to be reminded, we've been living in the pandemic-stricken world for many months now. In some parts of the world, cases are simmering down, but in others, they are bubbling up again. With fears of a second wave coming over the hill, nations everywhere are sitting tight with caution.

Of course, this means the same can be said for businesses. While some are slowly bringing employees back in, a large percentage of companies are still operating remotely. If not entirely, then they are sending only a handful of employees into the office at a time.

However, as we become increasingly accustomed to the remote way of life, many businesses now feel compelled to embrace it permanently. One of the first and most notable companies to make that move was Facebook, which announced earlier on in the year that it would be shifting towards a remote-first model, forever.

Well, Facebook definitely wasn't messing around. Today, it's actively recruiting for a Director of Remote Working as part of its commitment to the remote-first model.

A what?

Indeed, the position is virtually unheard of. A quick search on LinkedIn for people with that same job title will show you, well, no one really. So, how has Facebook defined the role of what a Director of Remote Working is responsible for? What kind of experience must they have?

According to the ad itself, "[t]he Director of Remote Work will be a strategic thinker who understands distributed and virtual teams, an outstanding relationship builder, and a change agent. Our ideal candidate is someone who can collaboratively build on, and evolve our remote workforce strategy with a passion and proven acumen for experience design, process excellence and change management."

Among their responsibilities, the Director will be expected to develop and govern the company's long-term remote working strategy and help Facebook make the transition. They will also have to "coach and educate HRBPs, managers, and organizational leaders", and implement and oversee remote workforce programs.

The ideal candidate will need to be of a HR background in terms of their career and education, with at least 15 years of experience in the field. They will also need to have experience with strategy development, program design/management, and change management.

For a company like Facebook, it makes sense. With 45,000 or so employees, it's understandable that they may need to bring someone in to successfully execute this strategy. However, Facebook is a trendsetting company, notable for pioneering its signature company culture and changing the business landscape. 

Therefore, it'll be interesting to see whether other companies will start to follow suit. The c-suite has already undergone quite the revamp with the introduction of Chief Diversity Officers, Chief Culture Officers, Chief People Officers, and many more, all of which stem from a HR background. Then, of course, we have the newer tech titles, such as Chief Analytics Officer, Chief Data Officer, Chief Transformation Officer, and so on. 

All of these are reflective of the changing business environment and business priorities. Remote working is, of course, a priority for right now, but it'll perhaps need to stand the test of time in a post-pandemic world before we see the ubiquitous introduction of director- and c-level remote working roles. In the meantime, businesses would do well to continuously fine-tune and govern their remote working policies. Whether they bring someone in specific to do that or not will be entirely circumstantial (relevant to factors such as the number of employees), but with the threat of a second wave, we're past winging remote working now. It's time to get it perfect.

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