‘Team leader anywhere’ and other job titles for an uncertain time

Here’s a sneaky sign of shaky times: longer job titles.

The last few years have plunged companies into chaos. Millions still work entirely from home, while many others are picking up their commutes in fits and starts. Most people whose jobs could be done remotely were still out of the office as of the beginning of this year, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

“The number of outages we’ve had has shaken every aspect of the business,” said JT O’Donnell, professional advisor. “What’s exciting is not just the number of startups and new ideas, but the number of new types of jobs.”

Job titles have always changed with the times. The growth of new technologies in the 1980s gave rise to chief information officers. The flow of political figures into technology turned everyone into chiefs of staff. The competition for talent in recent years has transformed human resources managers into chiefs of staff. Now, the rise of remote work has given way to new positions, whose lasting power has yet to be tested.

“People will try a lot of titles,” added Ms. O’Donnell. “Some will fail because they will be too far away. But eventually you will see a lot of changes.”

LinkedIn has seen a 304 percent increase in titles referencing “hybrid work” and a 60 percent increase in titles related to the future of work since the start of the pandemic. Far-reaching undercurrents of unrest, coupled with labor market turmoil, have also led to the creation of new jobs focused on boosting morale, though workers are often skeptical about what they can actually gain from those focused roles. in feelings.

Here’s a look at some of the new jobs coming out of the office turmoil, especially in tech and other companies that have embraced remote work.

Atlassian is a company that makes collaboration software, so when the company went remote in 2020, its leaders felt pressure to keep the collaboration engines running smoothly. Six months ago, the company hired an “Anywhere Team Leader,” a title that refers to the company’s stock symbol, which is TEAM. Annie Dean, who is in the role, recently oversaw the opening of a “focused anywhere team office,” which, in fact, is located somewhere (Austin).

Instead of sterile desks and cubicles, there are sunny event spaces, soft seating, a chef’s kitchen, and whiteboards on wheels. “The old model is focused on productivity,” Dean said during a video call from his family’s East Coast beach house. “Our new model focuses on experience.”

With mental health issues on the rise, employers are struggling to find ways to provide support, especially given the gaps in actual mental health care. Claude Silver, for example, serves as “director at heart” at the VaynerMedia agency, a position she has held for years, though it has become more necessary during the pandemic.

“Instead of doing red tape at a desk and being a ‘no’ person, you need a lot more people in the company who can say ‘yes and,’” he said.

Ms. Silver’s daily efforts run the gamut. Every evening at 1:37 p.m. she helps organize online shows for staff, whether it’s an interview with Novak Djokovic or a chat with an employee about homemade hot sauce. She sends out a staff newsletter called Heartbeat and also leads “brave conversations” where employees talk about challenging events in the news.

“You’ve noticed that I’ve said the word connection about 20 times,” he said. “It’s so crucial to psychological safety that everyone, regardless of whether he’s young or old, needs right now at a very anxious time.”

Some companies have been rigid in their thinking about workplace flexibility, weighing a full return to the office or a commitment to being fully remote. Samantha Fisher, head of dynamic work at Okta, a cybersecurity company, wants employees to feel like they can choose the routines that work best for them. “A less binary approach, either you’re remote or you’re not, is what we’re going to end up with,” Ms. Fisher said. “What people want is flexibility. It’s not necessarily ‘I don’t want to go back to the office’”.

One of Okta’s projects was to set up a work-from-home store, so employees can order office furniture such as standing desks or ergonomic chairs, an acknowledgment that its hybrid setups are permanent solutions rather than Band-Aids.

Remote work is clunky enough that many companies keep the relevant job title simple: remote boss.

However, his reasoning behind the roles may sound more grandiose: “If you had a skyscraper, you would definitely have someone in charge of making sure the physical building worked well,” said Darren Murph, who serves as head of remote control. from GitLab.

Mr. Murph sees his own role as something like workplace maintenance; it’s just that the workplace is not physical. “Remote companies also have a skyscraper,” he said. “You just can’t see it.”

Mr. Murph took over as GitLab’s head of remote control before the pandemic normalized working from home. In 2019, the company was holding an in-person conference on how to make remote work effective, and someone encouraged the team to identify a leader focused on that project. Mr. Murph is a strong believer that work can happen anywhere. Just the other day he arranged his schedule so he could spend the afternoon meeting his niece and watching an Outer Banks sunset: “a year of wonder” compressed into a few hours, he said.

About five years ago, the manufacturing company 3M, which makes items like adhesives, laminates, orthodontics, and masks, conducted a survey that yielded some worrying results: Public enthusiasm for science was low. The company decided to appoint a leading advocate for science, Jayshree Seth.

Dr. Seth tackles any project that encourages people to learn about science: planning events with astronauts, making a documentary about women scientists. With the onset of the pandemic and a divided political moment in which many have questioned the expertise of her public health leaders, Dr. Seth has found herself especially busy. Or as she put it: “We like to say that science is having its moment.”

Meghan Reibstein, who heads product management and flexible working initiatives at Zillow, wants more companies to appoint people to positions like hers, which she describes as struggling with the question, “How do we change the way work is done?” appears in our lives?

Your company went remote in 2020. A given workday might include Ms. Reibstein’s team planning retreats, weighing up office renovations, or advising colleagues on how to make the most of their meetings.

People you meet are often intrigued to hear that your work focuses on making work from home effective. “When people hear that I spend a lot of time thinking about it, they’re a little surprised because it’s something that happened in the world,” she said. “If you’re going to build something with a big vision and a lot of complexity and a lot of unknowns, you have to find resources.”

The leaders of Gtmhub, which makes management software, had a problem: None of them spent time being the face of the company, which, to be fair, isn’t exactly a household name. So they decided to appoint someone to be their “product evangelist,” Jenny Herald, who describes her role as a professional brand obsession. She hosts a podcast about Gtmhub, writes social media posts about Gtmhub, boosts internal morale, and chats with customers.

“I can’t tell you how many times people are like, ‘Jenny, I listened to your podcast, it was one of the reasons I wanted to join Gtmhub, I feel like I’m talking to a celebrity,’” Ms Herald said. “Every company needs someone to advertise what it stands for.”

Roles like “chief evangelist” tend to raise questions, but Ms. O’Donnell, the career coach, argues that’s a positive: “People ask, ‘What does that mean? What are you doing?’” she said. “That’s why we changed the titles.”

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