When you consider hiring a remote chief of staff, one of the first questions you may ask is “what work can a remote chief of staff do?” The good news is, the answer to your question is “a lot!” You’re most likely in the market for a chief of staff because you need to delegate competing priorities off of your plate. A remote chief of staff is capable of taking on many different aspects of your workload and since so much is happening digitally nowadays, hiring a remote chief of staff is a sensible choice.
The better question to ask is “what work can a remote chief of staff do for me?” It’s important for you to take a 30,000-foot view at everything you’re doing. Review your inbox, calendar, to-do lists and meeting agendas from the past month or two. Which items are taking away from your top priorities? List them out and prioritize them by asking yourself two questions:
How easy is this task to transfer to someone else?
How much of my time will this free up?
Anything that falls into the “Easy to transfer/lots of time freed up” and the “Easy to transfer/not much time freed up” are tasks you should be handing off to a remote chief of staff. Here are some examples:
Keeping up with daily communications is a grind that is often an inefficient use of a leader’s time. Responding to emails, keeping up with Slack messages, and good, old-fashioned phone calls are all things that need to be maintained, but take precious time away from more important projects. Enter your remote chief of staff. They are completely capable of taking over in this realm and alerting you if any messages are high priority, requiring your immediate attention.
As a leader, you are likely regularly scheduled as a speaker or presenter, within your own organization or outsourced to partner organizations. While in most cases you should be the one giving the actual presentation, you can turn to your chief of staff for organizing and handling all the dirty details involved surrounding the presentation. They can handle the scheduling, communicating with sponsors, and even pulling together and writing the first draft of your presentation or speech for you (or revising what you may have already worked on). They can also follow up by surveying attendees or CRM if that is something you need.
Again, once you have taken a broad scope of the projects you’re involved in, you may find that many of them can easily be handed off to your chief of staff. Even if you need to maintain your role as the big-picture, higher-level brainstorm person, your chief of staff can still easily step in and take over on the details--taking notes during meetings, assigning project-related tasks out, and communicating to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Budget Creation and Management
With so many digital platforms available, even budgets can be created, adjusted, and collaborated on virtually. If you’re in a large organization, your chief of staff can be a liaison between the office of the CEO and the finance department, helping lay out the expenses and headcount for the coming year. Within a smaller organization or start up, a chief of staff often manages the entire budget creation process, working with different team members on the planning, and then can work with an accountant to reconcile the expenses and monitor revenue on a monthly basis.
Hiring and HR Systems
Let’s face it: while many of us were still meeting candidates face-to-face, carrying out in-person interviews and on-boarding, the pandemic has taught us that the hiring process can most certainly be streamlined online if need be. While you should still be present for the Zoom interview where you ask the heavy-hitting questions, nearly everything else from vetting resumes to scheduling interviews to following-up with candidates to on-boarding new hires can be seamlessly handed off to your remote chief of staff to be done virtually.
All of this begs the question “What does a virtual chief of staff typically not do?”
Rarely do we see a virtual chief of staff sitting in on all of a leader’s meetings in a virtual setting. What they can do is debrief with a leader on a daily or weekly basis, going over the meetings the leader has done to ensure proper follow up, and also to plan for upcoming meetings by sending out materials to attendees in advance. We also don’t see virtual chiefs of staff taking a CEO’s place or acting as a surrogate in meetings where they might make decisions for the leader. They may help stand-in during low-stakes meetings which are more about updates, then giving the leader a synopsis afterwards. We also rarely see virtual chiefs of staff managing a leader’s team, though they often manage the assistant or others in the office of the CEO.
The world of remote work appears to be a long-term reality, so why not leverage the advantages that come with doing things digitally? Hiring a chief of staff not only frees up your time to focus on your true priorities, but opening up the position remotely widens the candidate pool and diversifies the talent you’ll come across when you’re looking to find that right individual to be your right-hand person.