A smooth transition to telecommuting from the office may seem like a dream that is hard to achieve. To make this transition, the company must rethink the way it operates, adopt new protocols and take long-term action.

Efficient organization of remote work requires effort, practice and no fear of know-how. To adapt to online remote work, companies often need an experienced specialist.

Usually, the task of carrying out the transfer falls on the shoulders of an employee or department that does not have the experience of such a transformation. And then they take on the task of organizing remote work, combining it with their main duties.

Eventually this leads to formal practices that exist only on paper. And desynchronization of the IT project team in reality. To effectively organize remote work, you need a person who will devote all his time to this. This is why many top companies today are starting to hire remote work managers.

What does a remote work manager do?
Remote work manager for the company

The profile specialist performs all tasks related to the organization of remote work, which in his absence could be performed by casual employees or departments of the company. He takes on responsibilities that previously could be performed by managers, HR or IT. The manager has a complete understanding of remote work, creates and implements protocols and standards for work processes, management, hiring. Typically, his job responsibilities include:

Documentation
Consulting, implementation and evaluation of new tools and practices
Training employees on remote work methods
Evaluation of the effectiveness of the implementation of remote practices and methods of work
Protecting the interests of remote employees
Support employees in solving problems related to remote work
And that is not all. He can also deal with legal aspects and the development of corporate culture in a remote work environment. This is no less important than the technical side of the issue.

10 Signs You Need a Remote Work Manager
Remote work manager for companies

Before creating a vacancy, you should make sure that such a specialist is really needed. If you have managed to successfully develop without a remote work manager so far, then you don’t need them, right? This is a very common misconception.

But the potential for improving the conditions for remote work is very large. To get the most out of it, you need a professional who can gradually take care of all aspects. There are a number of signs that signal that you need such a specialist:

You cannot maintain corporate culture remotely. Maybe you already have traditions that you can rely on, or maybe you don’t have them at all. It is difficult to motivate and interest in something that is not there. In this case, the value system will have to be created from scratch. Often it is the company's management that resists innovation the most.
Your remote employees are exhausted and demotivated. It is difficult to assess the situation when you do not see each other in person, but it is necessary to do this. In theory, remote work allows you to better plan your time and build a balance between work and personal life. If it's the other way around for you, seek professional help.
There is no accounting system for remote work. When working remotely, we need to communicate and keep track of our work differently. Ideally, the time spent on correspondence, meetings, calls and the actual development of IT products should be taken into account and documented.
You feel the need for microcontrol. Often, when switching to remote work, trust between managers and employees melts away. Perhaps your team members have to constantly update their status or participate in regular calls that interrupt work. This leads to decreased productivity and makes relationships more stressful.
Lack of a clear transition strategy. Removal does not happen by itself. This is not just a job outside the office, but a collection of processes, skills and culture. It takes a strategy and a leader to make them happen. In the absence of a leader, consider hiring a manager to prepare a transition plan.
Decreased transparency. When employees work remotely, it becomes difficult to evaluate the contribution to the common cause. This, in turn, makes it difficult to accurately assess performance. Paradoxically, this situation needs to be overcome without resorting to micromanagement.
Lack of training. Remote work is a skill that can be learned. The best teacher is someone who already knows how to work from home. The remote work manager will train staff on their own or offer educational platforms such as the Remote-how Academy.
No one to represent remote employees. When we have problems at work, we discuss them with the manager or HR. But who do you turn to when it comes to remote work? Whoever you choose, you will place additional responsibility on him. Remote workers need someone who 

will listen to their concerns and represent their interests.
Mess in the tools. Nobody checks if your tools are suitable for working in a team of programmers from home. If you've gone remote due to COVID-19, chances are your tools haven't changed at all. We need to audit, but who will do it?
Lack of help with home office equipment. This is one of the signs that you are not serious about remote work. We don't bring a personal laptop into the office, so why should we use the kitchen table and an uncomfortable chair to work? You need someone to help employees set up a home office.
 

Which companies already have remote work managers?
Remote work manager for companies

Several major tech companies have been experimenting with the new role since before COVID-19:

GitLab has been working remotely since its founding in 2014 and hired a remote work manager last year. Darren Murph has 15 years of remote work experience and is responsible for GitLab's remote work policy and tools. Here is how he explains the importance of his work:

“It creates the effect of circles on the water throughout the organization. The telecommuting manager is the most cross-functional position in the company. It is a guarantee that fundamental decisions to change the architecture will not be made in a vacuum. He is a visionary who drives change, increases inclusiveness and creates cultural uniformity.”

Darren described the main reason why GitLab, with its 1,200 remote employees, needs a subject matter expert. Remote work affects all areas of the company, from hiring to budget. Each individual change in the team affects all other units. The only way to see the full picture from a bird's eye view is to have someone take control of the whole process.

AngelList, a community of startups, investors and job seekers, hired their first telecommuting manager, Andreas Klinger, last year. Here is how he describes the workflows:

"Facilitating the establishment of procedures around meetings and meetings, developing practices that are effective at a distance and in different time zones."

The two companies have something in common: an established focus on remote work. All GitLab employees work remotely, and AngelList has its own remote work committee. This is a great example for those companies that will have to catch up.

Facebook also recently hired remote director Annie Dean. In the future, the company plans to make remote work a permanent option. Annie has a lot of experience in promoting flextime for women from her previous position at Werk. Prior to COVID-19, Facebook didn't pay much attention to remote work. Now it has become obvious that in order to bet on the remote format, a remote work manager is needed. Today, many software developers are following this path, and the need for specialized specialists in the IT market is growing.

It's only a matter of time
Remote work manager for companies

Whether or not you need a telecommuting manager depends on how serious you are about telecommuting. Not all product teams plan to offer work from home as a permanent post-pandemic option. But now that everyone has experience working outside the office, they are in the minority.

Work will inevitably become more flexible in the future, so forge while it's hot. Now all companies have a unique opportunity to successfully start remote work.

At some point along the way, outside support will be needed. As the need grows, you will notice more and more signs that you need a subject matter specialist. Check the situation in your company and consider hiring a telecommuting manager that suits your company's needs.