Job: Remote-employee experience specialist
The role: The role of a remote employee experience specialist is to manage staff members who aren’t physically present in the office.
“My job is to keep a pulse on the beliefs, perceptions and values of our remote employees,” said Chivon John, a remote-employee experience specialist for Canadian e-commerce platform Shopify. “The goal and the mission of this role are to make recommendations, identify opportunities and implement initiatives that help us build and nurture a healthy remote working culture.”
According to a recent study by Regus Canada, 47 per cent of Canadian employees work from outside of their employer’s primary office for half of the week or more, 39 per cent work primarily from home and 11 per cent work exclusively from home.
Ms. John explains that almost half of Shopify’s 3,000 employees work remotely, with only 850 in the company’s Ottawa headquarters. It is her job to ensure that employees have the tools and resources necessary to be active members of the organization and its culture, no matter where they are based.
“Once you start offering flexible working opportunities, you need to make sure people still have that strong sense of connection [to the company] no matter where they’re working,” she said.
According to Ms. John, the role involves regular contact with remote employees using a range of communication technologies, quantitative and qualitative studies regarding the concerns and priorities of the remote work force, and relaying those findings to executives and decision-makers to ultimately shape remote-working policies and initiatives.
Ms. John adds that while the role is relatively new, it can be found in a range of industries and within companies of all sizes.
“There are some that have 100 employees and a strong emphasis on remote work, all the way up to companies with a few thousand,” she said. “What's common is that they have team members that are distributed.”
Salary: According to Ms. John, the average base salary of a remote-employee experience specialist ranges from approximately $50,000 to $70,000 annually. She adds that salaries typically vary depending on the candidate and the makeup of the remote work-force. “Educational background would be one factor, also the organization’s size in terms of complexity; whether it’s global or if all employees are concentrated in the same location,” she said.
Education: While there are no licensing or educational requirements for the role, Ms. John says employers typically value a background in human resources, project management or organizational workplace psychology. She adds that employers also look for candidates who can demonstrate strong research and communication skills.
Job prospects: Although the role is relatively new, Ms. John says Canadian organizations are acknowledging its value as they seek to manage an increasingly remote work force.
“There's a lot of opportunity because a lot of businesses are starting to think of this as an area to focus on,” she said. “They're starting to consider how to foster that sense of belonging once they've embraced remote work.”
Challenges: Maintaining a sense of belonging and cohesion among a geographically and culturally diverse group of employees can present a range of challenges.
“Since we’re a global company we are connecting with people across so many different areas of the world, and that definitely brings some challenges,” Ms. John says, explaining that simply co-ordinating schedules across time zones can present its share of complications. “Another challenge that comes up is understanding different cultural norms, ensuring that when we’re designing experiences that they aren’t specific to North American employees.”
Why they do it: Remote-employee experience specialists enjoy the opportunity to create a sense of belonging and cohesion for remote workers, who are often at risk of feeling disconnected and isolated from their colleagues.
“Remote employees and remote workers can have a lot of feelings of isolation, which is why it’s so important for a role like this to exist, because it helps ensure that we’re fostering that sense of belonging, and we’re providing support to ensure their experience is a strong one,” Ms. John said.
Misconceptions: Although nearly half of all Canadians work remotely, Ms. John says that there are still many misconceptions about the practice.
“When I let people know I work remotely they think it's very easy, and the reality is that remote work is not for everyone, and may not work for every organization,” she said. “This role really opens your eyes to how unique and challenging remote work can be.”
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