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Do We Need a Director of Remote Work?

Director of Remote Work

Facebook just hired a director of remote work as the point-person for all things work-from-home (WFH). It was an easy decision since Facebook’s huge workforce will be working from home until summer 2021, with only half returning to the office after that. But designating a remote work point-person isn’t just an excellent idea for giant tech companies. It can increase productivity, reduce costs, and impact employee retention, whatever your organization’s size.

According to the job description posted in November, Facebook was ready for a full-time director of remote work to act as a strategic thinker and 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.”

Requirements for the role include:

  • 15+ years of experience leading people teams, remote workforce, HR business partner, or people operations
  • Demonstrated results building and sustaining complex cross-functional relationships
  • Experience with strategy development, program design/management, and change management
  • Experience thinking creatively and prototyping new ideas
  • Experience operating in a matrix and constantly changing environment
  • And a BA/BS degree or equivalent HR work experience

It appears from a LinkedIn search that Annie Dean, a former vice president at Deloitte Consulting and co-founder and former co-CEO of in New York, is the lucky winner of the position. It’s a great match since, with (now acquired and known as WerkLabs), she created an enterprise data and analytics platform designed to help moms find high-performing, flexible work. At Deloitte, she served as a remote work and flexibility expert, helping Fortune 500 teams adapt to COVID-related WFH pivots.

“Organizations succeeded in making a quick pivot to working online in the face of the COVID pandemic, and the success of the experience has led 44% of companies to develop strategies for potential moves to permanent remote work,” Dean co-wrote while at Deloitte. In the advice for Boss Magazine, she and her co-author shine a light on how employee wellbeing is key to WFM productivity, which they defined as a combination of effectiveness, efficiency, and empowerment. “We need to expand our definition of productivity, use technology to work smarter, not harder, and embrace wellness and innovation in our day-to-day activities.”

Darren Murph, GitLab’s head of remote since before the pandemic, says that we’re “never putting this remote genie back in the bottle,” so organizations large and small need to organize around it.

“[Working remote] has a cascading ripple effect through the entire organization,” Murph tells Digiday. “The head of remote exists to make sure that none of those re-architecting decisions are looked at in a silo or in a vacuum.”

Is your organization big enough to warrant a full-time director of remote work? You may need to consult an HR consulting strategist to decide. For most small- to mid-sized businesses, the responsibilities may be assigned to a specific point-person. But don’t skip that step. At this point in the pandemic, even if as few as 10-20% of your workforce is working at home (we’re guessing there’s more), one person needs to be in charge of making sure those employees’ needs are met.

These resources can help:

  • Unitonomy has compiled a terrific list of job duties for a head of remote work and advice on how to recruit someone for the position. If you’re not sure you need someone dedicated entirely to the job, run through the list to determine if your assumptions are correct. This companion guide to the best remote working practices is helpful, too.
  • If you’re considering a hybrid-remote work arrangement moving forward (only some days in the office), Murph and his GitLab team have assembled a comprehensive guide. The guide includes tips on redesigning meeting rooms and meetings, leadership roles, and equitable benefits and perks.
  • We offer additional tips in our State of Remote Work report, including insights from Built In Austin and local companies like Living Security, Square Root, ShipWell, Canva, and AdAction. Additional WFH mini-case studies from Austin companies can be found at Built In Austin here, including new feedback from Planoly, SailPoint, and DISCO.

“It’s been nearly a year since employees have been sent home to work. Don’t leave them to fumble through another day without the right emotional and technical support,” advises The HT Group Founder and CEO Mark Turpin. “You may need to find a human resources consultant who can guide you in forming a strategy or talk an executive recruiter to find your very own head of remote work.”


The HT Group fills roles in Temporary Staffing, Executive Search, Technical Recruiting, and Retained Search.

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