The very first hire at our SaaS startup was (surprise!) not an engineer.

It might seem counterintuitive, but the first person on board at Wingback was a Fractional Head of Remote — and it was the best decision we made.

My co-founder, Torben Friehe, and I knew we wanted to be an asynchronous, fully remote company, and we intended to grow fast. Sure, our first hire could have been a backend engineer or a sales guru. But we’d never attempted to lead a remote team before — our first startup together was entirely in-person. What if we mismanaged our first employees simply because we had no idea how to run a virtual company?

Saying, ‘Please confirm by end of day’ means nothing when everyone’s work days span different hours.

If you have experience leading remote teams, having someone dedicated to remote work processes might not be necessary, but for anyone else, it’s hard to overstate how critical this role is in helping ensure your employees are rowing in the same direction: It’s particularly true for founders and startup CEOs, whose time and mental energy is stretched thin as it is (not to mention our communication skills can be, well, lacking).

As an early-stage founder, your most important task is focusing on your product and making sure you hire the right people, not spending your time making sure each team member has gotten their vacation time approved or has read the company policies.