I see what you mean about putting too much distance between you and the employees your trying to help; however, it today's work environment, virtual meetings and conferences are increasingly becoming the norm. Working with employees virtually will still allow you to make the impact you would like to make.
This is a great question! With COVID-19, many workplaces have moved to partially and fully remote models of work. This means it is certainly possible for you to work remotely as an HR Manager! I myself work primarily remote and with employees across different states, so it can be awhile before I meet people in person. If you are working remotely, it is important to lean into digital tools (Zoom, Google Hangouts, Slack, etc.) to build relationships with employees. The best HR Managers have built up trust and strong relationships with their employees. This can be done remotely, but can take a little more effort. If you are remote, it's a goof idea to try and meet in person occasionally, even if it's just for social events.
I agree with others comments that it depends on the industry if the position is remote. As a general statement, it is very common since the pandemic that companies have a hybrid work policy with a mixture of work from home and going to an office. In the case of hybrid, companies are communicating the expectation and specifying the expectations of going to the office vs working from home.
That's a valid question! As others have said, it depends on the company (including size and culture) and the industry that you would be working for.
Due to the pandemic, a lot of workplaces have encouraged hybrid approaches (a mix of remote and in-person work), which gives employees the flexibility to go to an office or work from home whenever it works best for their schedules. Some teams have also encouraged certain days of the week to go to an office to work (such as only on Wednesday's, or Tuesday's and Thursday's). Is a hybrid model one that sounds interesting to you? If that is the case, then I don't envision that there would be problems for you being in an HR role and feeling disconnected from the employees. Some days you would be available in person, and others days you would be available through a video meeting.
If you are looking for an entirely remote position, I also don't think this would be a problem. Some companies promote video meetings, where you can engage with those you are working with from your home, but still be present via video for the employees. The pandemic transformed the way that employees connect and communicate - anything is possible!
I agree with @Tyler White. It really depends on the role, the industry, and the company you want to work for. For example I work in the global space so whether I am sitting in an office or working remotely I am interacting with colleagues across multiple states and countries. It also matters the culture of the organization and how easy it is to develop and maintain relationships virtually. If the organization that is mature in working in a hybrid space, or a virtual space it will be much easier for you to navigate and be an effective HR practitioner than one that is primarily driven in face to face interactions.
I would recommend asking questions about the culture of the organization in the interview process and as part of your evaluation when choosing where to begin your career.
Racheal Noble, Ph.D., LMFT, LPC, NCC
Yes, there are positions to work from home as an HR manager. When you are looking for employment, you should identify which companies have a position that is work from home and the criteria for that position as well. Work from home positions may require a different set of standards and rules, so be sure to think about this along with the travel /distance concerns you have regarding employment.
It is also vital to ask the employer if they offer work from home position, when doing an interview, as oftentimes, some companies may list a job, and not update the job analysis or job descriptions, which can be a turn-off; however, they may have had to change the standards give the recent hype of the pandemic along with understanding how much has changed with employee satisfaction and performance. Be open to discussing and negotiating hybrid situations as well. Although distances is a "con" for you, being flexible is a valuable trait that gets you in the door.
As the world is changing and more roles become remote (Even HR roles) we need more people coming in to the workforce that are thinking about how we improve remote management in general. Good luck with your future endeavors!