• Sandra Wagner, Manager |

Keyfacts

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the establishment of digital work processes to enable employees to work at home.

  • To meet the demands of the new hybrid world of work, companies need remote work leaders.

  • This new leadership role combines knowledge in the areas of tax, law, IT and human resources.

The Covid-19 pandemic is forcing the world to change their work habits.

Companies are faced with the task of enabling their employees to work from home. For this, they need new digital work processes. 

What does this change mean for companies? How do they have to change to meet the challenges and survive in the working world of the future? 

One of the answers to the hybridisation of the working world is a new job description at management level: the "Head of Remote Work". Especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, companies are introducing this new leadership role. An international technology company was one of the first to announce the appointment of a "Director of Remote Work" in September 2020. This followed the announcement that all employees would be allowed to work from home in the future. Other large tech companies followed suit.

New demands on personnel management

For companies, hybrid working means more than just providing the necessary mobile equipment. A sustainable change in work processes also requires further development of human resources management. New requirements are arising especially in HR, such as virtual onboarding and virtual personnel development. In addition, companies should also be establishing corporate guidelines and internal guidelines for working outside the office.

Tax implications and legal issues

Regarding taxation, a wide range of questions arise: What are the implications of hybrid working on issues such as permanent establishments, transfer pricing, income, or payroll tax? Companies should review the fulfilment of their tax obligations to minimise the tax compliance risks that may arise from the changed work processes.

When cross-border homeworking is added to national homeworking, there are further legal questions. Which reporting obligations must be fulfilled, when does the labour law of the sending country apply, when does local law apply? How does permanent work abroad affect the application of social security law? In addition, a distinct understanding of corporate cultural contexts at national and global level is necessary. 

All these questions, and the need to address them in a compliant manner, make it advisable to implement a person responsible for them, i.e. the "Head of Remote Work". Strategic forethought and a generalist perspective are required for this management position. The multitude of requirements, from communication and personnel development to corporate culture and IT, show that the scope of work brought about by the change in the hybrid working world could be too extensive and the required competences too specific to be integrated into an IT or HR manager's area of responsibility. 

One fundamental challenge of the future of work is to lead the organisational transition to a hybrid world of work in a strategic and methodical way, with the aim of preserving the existing corporate culture and integrating new talent. 

Preparing for the new world of work

Companies should ask themselves: Are we prepared for the new world of work? Is the introduction of a new management position worthwhile? The larger and more global the company, the greater the complexity of hybrid and mobile working models.

The working world will continue to change. The implementation of additional controls is required to ensure maximum compliance with a decentralised workforce and to meet the needs of employees. This ranges from the provision of technical equipment, appropriate group policies or guidelines on remote working, to the creation of opportunities to stay in contact with each other formally and informally. For this reason, companies should think about establishing a management position dedicated to remote working or at least entrust existing managers with this task. The job title "Head of Remote Work" may be new. It creates a new level of responsibility within the corporate structure and stands for transformation in corporate management.