By: Laurel Farrer
You’ve probably heard us say that the job responsibilities at a distributed company are exactly the same as at a co-located company. Most of the time, that is true. For many roles, the work doesn’t change whether the employee is sitting in a cubicle or in a hammock. However, for two specific titles, it most definitely is different. A lot different. When these employees lock the office door, their responsibilities grow much more than they or their bosses anticipate. Who are they?
1. Human Resources Director
In any company, the HR Director or People Ops Manager is the hub of all things team: recruiting and staffing, performance management, compensation and benefits, and policy development. However, in a distributed company, vital components of employee relations like culture and communication aren’t organic like they would be if your team were together every day. Instead, they require intentional goals and actions.
For example, your team isn’t going to be bonding by the water cooler every afternoon, a retreat needs to be hosted to build unity. If a big deadline is coming up, you don’t just ask everyone to stay late this week, you need to make travel arrangements for an on-site sprint. And who does all of that planning fall to? You got it…HR. Not only that, but communication strategies, benefit packages, and salaries aren’t standardized for distributed teams, so they all need to be continually strategized, researched, and evaluated before implementing.
When the HR Director locks an office door to work remotely, they also instantaneously become a travel agent, event planner, organizational behavior manager, and economist, in addition to the usual responsibilities.
As the person who manages the numbers of your company, it’s a no-brainer that this is someone you want to pay fairly. But the truth is that you still may not be paying them enough. Tax season is always a headache - sales tax, property tax, and income tax. Oh my! It’s enough to make our heads spin.
Now, multiply that headache by the numbers of employees and clients that you have, because when they are location-independent, so are your taxes. Taxes need to be calculated for each state that you made a sale in or that you have a team member residing in. Ouch, right? As if that weren’t enough, asset management, employee stipends, and exchange rates are also unique to distributed teams, so I think we’re well past the “migraine” level and are now volunteering for an MRI. A bit of respect is due, to say the least.
So, how can you support these overworked team members? Start with acknowledging and appreciating how much they do for your company, then get them some help! Hiring a retreat planner, PEO, and/or a virtual assistant will be sure to ease their burden. After all, the workload of three people should be distributed among three people! Oh and a nice end-of-the-year bonus and a handwritten note probably wouldn’t hurt either. 😊