Leadership in a Remote Work World


John Healy: All right. Excellent. Hi everyone. I'm John Healy. I'm the Vice-President at the World Employment Confederation organization. That's focused on ensuring that we have healthy labor markets across the world. And from what I can see in the feed we've got a lot of people attending today. This is great.

John Healy: I appreciate everyone being here. If you have questions during the course of the session, please feel free to drop them into the Q/A. I'll make sure that we can jump to those, try to bring them into the panelists as we go forward. And we've got four great panelists for you today to try and make this a fun conversation.

John Healy: Our topic is pretty straight forward. We've got this on leadership and a remote work world. So we know that things have changed quite a bit. So I'm gonna kind of ask our four panelists to introduce themselves. And I'm going to ask you each to tell us the number one learning moment you had while working remotely during the pandemic and no one used the simple, easiest, obvious one so that my house was not set up for remote work. My kids interrupt me. What was that aha moment that they kind of caught you by surprise that maybe you weren't anticipating along the way. So, Jon, I'll start with you.

Jon Beck: Sure. Hi John. Thanks for having me on the panel. I'm John Beck, I'm the founder and CEO of Ursus . We are a staffing company focused on technology and creativity to power digital transformation. We actually have been a remote company for five of our seven year history. So we were doing it before it was cool.

Jon Beck: And I made the decision. And did I answer your question about what I learned? I probably learned less than five years earlier than maybe some that the opportunity to find talent in other places beyond a 10 or 15 mile radius from an office location was possible and doable with the technology that exists to manage.

Jon Beck: And that lesson was exacerbated during COVID when there was no choice to go travel and meet people. And half of our company was hired in the last two years and had never had a chance to meet each other along the way. So, that's what we're going to get into in terms of the management responsibility, things that we've learned over those five years.

John Healy: Cool. Thanks Sam. 

Sam Pessin: Thanks John. My name's Sam Pessin, I'm one of the co-founders and President of a company called Remote Year. We offer work and travel programs to remote working professionals all over the world. Take them to various countries around the world for anywhere between 1 month and 12 months at a time.

Sam Pessin: And most recently we actually offer retreats, including company retreats, which we can talk about maybe a little bit later. Similar to John we've been doing remote work since, before it was cool. I think it's been seven years now. And I think the lesson that really sort of came out for me during COVID that I already believed, but really hit home was working in my third bedroom is just not good enough every day. You know, I think there's so much more that we need as humans to do our best work and to connect with others. And while I'm a huge believer in remote work, I think it altered the way that I've been thinking about it and also altered the way that we work as a company.

Sam Pessin: I think in person is really important. I think also even when you are working remotely, having different kinds of surroundings and inspirational places that you can be is just so important when you're working. So that really came out for me when we were all just stuck in our houses. 

John Healy: Cool. Thanks Sam. And Steven, you want to give an introduction? 

Steven Talbot: Yeah, thanks. Sure. So my name's Steven, I'm the co-founder and CEO of GQR. We're a global search and staffing firm. So we've been in the US for, it will be a decade to the ship and around the world for 12 years. So we're currently in full continents, think about 15 countries at last count.

Steven Talbot: The US is our largest and in the US we're in 32 of the 50 states. So a pretty distributed team. And we have been for a long while. We really accelerated like everyone else, our remote programs in February two years ago. And then not lessons. And I think probably the biggest one is that, you know, this trend is not going anywhere.

Steven Talbot: It's ending accelerating, but probably the more important one within that is trust. I think we all value trust in our personal lives, in most of our relationships in business, probably not as highly as we should have. And it's really important that managers trust their team members and team members trust their leaders and the organization as a whole.

Steven Talbot: So I think the importance of trust in business, And how important that is for every stakeholder, every participant. I think that's the biggest lesson for home again, independence. 

John Healy: Excellent. Thanks for that, Steven. And Adam, you want to provide us with an introduction from the top.

Adam Hawkins: Hi John? Hi, everyone on the panel.

Adam Hawkins: Hi, the audience greetings from London. So for everybody my name's Adam Hawkins. I work for LinkedIn and I lead our EMEA and Latin America search and staffing practice. Been with LinkedIn coming up to three and a half years. And prior to that worked in industry for about 20 years internationally, as it relates John, to your question about learnings during the pandemic.

Adam Hawkins: I think there are so many probably one that has probably the most prominence is probably an obvious one is there's no one size fits all. I think what we've seen during the pandemic, people tend to talk about leading their team or organizations. In reality the pandemic showed us that there's just so many subcultures within the teams.

Adam Hawkins: You know, some parts of your organization at times, it probably is some of the most troubling moments. Some of your team just needed to tell them what was the one thing they needed to do today. Whereas others, as Steven talked about, needed full trust and flexibility and empowerment. And I think now that's really transcended into this hybrid working world now where, you know, leaders have to move up and down the scale.

Adam Hawkins: They have to sub-segment organizations. We've got new people, we've got tenured people. And I think as long as the business is clear on the productivity and success metrics aligned to the cultural tenants and values of the business you avoid that sort of disenfranchised type structure, which I think we'll talk a bit about today.

John Healy: Excellent. Thanks Adam. So, for the 124 people in the audience today, I'm going to apologize that we don't have gender diversity in this group, but we do have other forms of diversity. If you think of a couple of founders of staffing organizations who have been out here looking at the market in different ways and organization that, that focused on building remote from a cultural perspective from the beginning and LinkedIn, who we all know is an organization that has helped transform the way that we connect with individuals and that individuals connect with opportunities in the marketplace.

John Healy: So I'm hoping that we're going to have a little bit of fun. I've encouraged all the panelists to challenge each other. If they see something different, if they have something that they feel is controversial or an alternative position, we want to get that out there. And again, a reminder to ask any questions in the Q/A session.

John Healy: You have your opportunity to kind of upload on that question so that we make sure that we get additional things. So Jon, I'm going to start with a question for you. You wrote a blog on the great resignation and you put a focus on the need to become a better manager. So as I read it I almost felt like there is a little bit of a rant going on in here, Jon, there was something personal that came in about the reaction.

John Healy: That's come, you know, so tell us a little bit about what you got from, you know, your internal organization, but also from the people who follow you on LinkedIn and who read this and reacted and responded to it. 

Jon Beck: Yeah, John, the, if there was a ramp response to it, I guess it came from some of the frustration from our clients that were, are still insistent that employees need to come to the office every single day.

Jon Beck: And I believe that they're putting themselves at a distinct disadvantage. And when I hear the follow-on reasons for why. They think it's important to be there. You know, you hear things like, well, I need to see my employees. They need to be close to me. And I would argue that, you know, whether you're three feet or 3000 feet away from somebody you have with the technology that exists today, the opportunity to interact and to have meaningful conversations and to understand who they are and to build trust with them along the way.

Jon Beck: And some of that you know, we hear it in the introductions around metrics and things to provide guardrails for your employees. But a lot of it, you know, it COVID has really given us the opportunity and the challenging us to become better managers. You have to be more attentive to your employees culture, which is an incredibly overused term in the corporate world that has to be promoted.

Jon Beck: It has to be developed. It has to be defended. When things go wrong, because invariably they will go wrong. And you know, when COVID first hit two years ago, that challenged all of us. How are we going to respond to this and keep our teams together? And sometimes that's about telling them what they're going to do that day.

Jon Beck: Sometimes it's about giving them a virtual hug and encouragement. And sometimes it's about having harder conversations about how they can work remotely or find alternatives given their unique personal environments. And so I think the challenge for all managers is just to become better with COVID and an opportunity.

Jon Beck: There's new ways to interact with our employees that we didn't have before and fantastic technology and tools, some of them, which I cited in the blog post that give us a chance to really build that culture and build those relationships with our employees. 

John Healy: Cool. Really appreciate that. Anyone who feels like they want to jump in on this issue in terms of being a better manager, has anything kind of stood out Adam or Sam or Steven.

Adam Hawkins: I think I agree with Jon's point. I think there's another thing going on in the wider business world, which is, you know, LinkedIn certainly viewing as actually the great reshuffle because we're seeing from a data point of view there's equally, if not more people actually moving jobs within organizations.

Adam Hawkins: You know, so that's absolutely, you know, going on in, in the working world right now which I think managers have to be massively cognizant of. I won't make a provocative statement, but I will talk from experience that, you know, I've been in the industry over 20 years and I certainly was driven on a culture of presenteeism.

Adam Hawkins: And I think, you know, many cultures in the recruitment businesses are often deemed off the back of that. And I think that's similar to Jon's posts, which I fully agree with is that, you know, leaders have to mature and evolve their thinking because culture and, you know, good leadership can be achieved, you know, remotely.

Adam Hawkins: And I'll talk a bit later about how I think we can do that, but it's just about approaching the situation differently, but we can't drive on presenteeism because actually candidates will make other choices and they will go elsewhere.

John Healy: Okay, good. I want to maybe pick up on a piece that was referenced in there. You talked about or Jon talked a little bit about the tools and the technology. Sam you've started a company that was about learning about remote and experiencing remote long before COVID ever came about. And we'd heard of that word along the way.

John Healy: So can you talk to us about some of the tools that have been used to maybe that aren't necessarily just the new hot one that we've heard about, but that have really transformed the way collaboration is taking place. People are able to stay connected with their teams and how that's worked within the Remote Year community.

Sam Pessin: Yeah, definitely. And I think just to start, if anything, I imagine everyone is feeling over tooled, not under tools, at least that's how we feel. And I think it, it actually is less about the actual tools that you use and more about the systems that you build within the organization to communicate and use those tools effectively.

Sam Pessin: Like I think about it in sort of three buckets, there's synchronous communications like this there's asynchronous communications, and then there's what I'll call it just personal work time for people to actually not communicate, but rather it's sort of do their own work. You know, and there's a different tool set for all of those that we can talk a little bit about.

Sam Pessin: But at the end of the day, if you're too far in one bucket and you know, you're just having meetings for everything and every little issue, then your team feels, you know, zoomed out and just fatigued from that. At the end of the day, they've had seven hour long, you know, zoom meetings in a row and they're just sort of ready to put their computer down.

Sam Pessin: And similarly if async is actually too much of the time that people are just getting 50 slack messages a minute and they don't know what to do with themselves, and they actually ended up spending two or three or four hours of their day, just monitoring and responding and reading all the slack, chaos that's going on.

Sam Pessin: So I think it's really about a balance and setting expectations within your organization about when you use this kind of communication, when you use that kind of communication, how you can build time for yourself in the day to actually get done what you need to get done. You know, we use the normal video tools, zoom or Google meets that everybody else uses.

Sam Pessin: We've also tried to do a little bit more audio recently. I do think that there is a good use case to use audio for certain meetings and actually get up and maybe walk around. Actually my co-founder from Remote Year started a company called Spot, which is basically an audio meeting companion for meetings like that.

Sam Pessin: Where you can keep meetings. From your cell phone is productive, just as if you were taking notes at your computer. I think for async there, there are some creative ones that people don't think of that often. Voice notes are really interesting. In other parts of the world, it's very common to replace an email using a voice note on WhatsApp or some other platform.

Sam Pessin: Slack has the now as well. We use those all the time and I think it's a really interesting and quick format to just get an async message to somebody else. Using platforms like notion to create sort of an internal company Wiki or you know, central point of where you can find things within the company, like where you can find your benefits and where you can find key documents and key reports and stuff like that.

Sam Pessin: Tools like notion are really effective for that. So that's just some of the stuff. 

John Healy: Anyone else have to have tools that have just really stood out to them or even thoughts around cadences of what communications work well, when, you know, for that daily huddle versus for that quarterly strategy meeting, you know, anyone found one tool or one sequence of tool use worked better than others at this stage, 

Jon Beck: I would agree with Sam, by the way, we're really mindful of cadence and overwhelming people with slack and zoom meetings, I can tell you too, John has been really successful for us and they're asynchronous.

Jon Beck: One is a, just a simple widget that sits on slack, which sets a coffee date for our employees every week on a Monday. And we're a relatively small company of 50 people, but the fact that we're having, you know, two people talk to each other who may not normally do that in their daily work life. And miss the opportunity of being in a break room together has proven to be immensely popular.

Jon Beck: And it's not about, we don't talk about work. We talk about what happened over the weekend, or, you know, the score of a sports game, whatever the case may be. The other one is a tool called Bonusly, which again, puts power back in the hands of the employees where they can acknowledge their fellow colleagues when something they have done they're appreciative of.

Jon Beck: And it's a point system based and they can reclaim those points and it promotes our culture and what we're doing, and it's totally out of the hands of managers. So it's peer to peer recognition, both would be really successful for us. 

Adam Hawkins: John, I'd love to sort of pose this back to Sam. You know, it's really interesting.

Adam Hawkins: Some of the things he shares about, you know, general engagement through platforms, but what we've seen is. You know, we've gone from everybody's remotes, you know, we had phases of people going back and actually, you know, talk firsthand, you know, we're in a blended world right now. But actually it's really interesting to see how does tech evolve to, you know, where you've got partial groups in the office, but you've also got, you know, people dialing in and actually, you know, one of the biggest things is that you don't want to make people feel, you know, you know, not engaged like the how before, because when you're talking to everyone on camera, you can build your strategies.

Adam Hawkins: But if you're sitting in a boardroom and you've got a camera on the end of the room, and it's still quite easy to default back to the way you operate. And I think there's that sort of present presenteeism bias that is going to come into the conversation. And, you know, I actively think about this now, if I'm in the office and another person's in the office, but I've interviewed someone for a role or for an opportunity, you know, they've been remote.

Adam Hawkins: Am I giving them the same experience? So I don't know what you think Sam, but love to think about it. Because that is going to be the world that we operate in. I feel there's some gaps there as well. 

Sam Pessin: Yeah. I think everyone's experienced that, right? Like in the one person who's dialed in or potentially been in the room and sort of had a hard time hearing or interacting or engaging with the person who's dialed in or the people who are dialed in.

Sam Pessin: I, to be honest, I have not seen that work super well. And so what we've done at Remote Year is we created what we called the all or nothing rule. So it's exactly what you just talked about with your interviews. Either everybody's in person or everybody's digital and there's nothing in between.

Sam Pessin: Like we don't do meetings where five people are in a room and three people are dialed in. Because we have found exactly what you said is true, which is it's not equal, you can't contribute the same way and it ends up creating sort of the wrong perceptions and outcomes. So literally even in the early days of Remote Year, Five of us were running around trying to run the first program and a couple who were scouting future locations.

Sam Pessin: And we would just dial them in on WhatsApp. We just give them a call and put them on speaker phone in the middle of the room. And after a few meetings, they said they just literally couldn't engage in any meeting that we were having. And so instead we all went to separate corners of the same place and just got on our own computers, one person per screen, everybody was equal.

Sam Pessin: And you know, there's a lot of tech tools that are out like the owl, for example, that are trying to fix that problem. I personally haven't seen one that works well enough to actually solve. 

John Healy: Cool. I just threw a poll out. I'm curious about any reaction to the all or nothing. So we'll let the audience try to respond to that.

John Healy: Feel free to drop into the polls. See what's there, we'll pull it up on stage as we go forward. But I think it's fun to give an opportunity to get some feedback from a hundred and now 44 people who are out there. So I want to move us along a little bit, Steven, and turn to you. You recently posted something about the benefits of mindfulness.

John Healy: I think it was the seven benefits and the article really got me thinking about the impact that mindfulness can have on the employee experience and the base value proposition between employers and the workforce that they engage in. And I'm specifically saying employers in the workforce. They engage not necessarily their full-time employees, but maybe the independent contractors that they engage, the gig workers, they engage the full-time employees kind of everyone.

John Healy: So can you talk a little bit about the value proposition and how it's shifting within your organization? And then as well between your organization and your client customers as well in this whole remote working. 

Steven Talbot: Yeah, totally. 've counted about 16 questions in there. John

Steven Talbot: On the last one as well. I think technology isn't a substitute for everything. And it's about leveling the playing field when there is technology. So Sam talking about, you know, moving to different corners of the same room you know, it feels counterintuitive, but this is what you've got to do is that it's not lack of parity between people that causes a lot of the problem.

Steven Talbot: I'm just seeing that the all or nothing poll pop up as well and interesting. Well, I'm gonna, I'm going to vote. So I think. I'll try and break down the first part of the question again about the value proposition of an organization, it has changed drastically. Adam was talking about, you know, present presenteeism and people being valued based on presence.

Steven Talbot: And I think that's something that's changed massively is this the, you know, the superficial measures full of people's money and contribution. A lot of those have been eradicated. You know, how early in the office, how late you stay, these things were invisible now or at least should be. And for the most part, it's changed.

Steven Talbot: So we thought deeply about what an organization should be. What, why do we actually exist? What is our value proposition? And we came up with these three things that were broken out into five and we use an acronym called Pegler. So people pay on what we think our purpose as an organization is to bring together and surround people with other good people that share similar aspirations and similar ideals, and want to achieve different things.

Steven Talbot: There's room for different personalities, different traits, backgrounds, diversity has contributed to this but largely people that enjoy and want to accomplish the same things. But these stand for an environment which is used to the physical environment. We used to play a lot into that and it doesn't anymore.

Steven Talbot: G stands for growth over opportunity and I for impact, and the first three have changed massively. And during the pandemic, the benefit, the relatedness we get from being surrounded by other good motivated people. Is it a disadvantage when we're all in separate physical locations, the environment has changed entirely.

Steven Talbot: Inequality is not the center for the first few months of the pandemic. You have people crouched over coffee tables and sat at the kitchen counters without proper setups. Growth for me is one of the most significant variables that we need to consider. The opportunity for growth and learning so much happens by osmosis, just by being surrounded by people and absorbing what's going on.

Steven Talbot: You think that most of the cultural cues, how to interact with people, candidates, clients, other people in the work place, how to express empathy and understanding that's much more difficult, let alone the, you know, the formalized learning and career development and talent identification that happens in passing.

Steven Talbot: So those are the big things that are changing. So what we've had to do is be a lot more conscious and intentional with all of those things. So when it comes to the environment, we fund the home setup. People provide the computers that they want, stand up tables, big screens, all of the equipment that people have, you know, comfortable, sustainable.

Steven Talbot: I've been on the environment, the people element, we had a jet set program. We've had lots of offices around the world. Traveling, experiencing the world in different cultures was always a big thing for us. So we had a jet set program. Every cool it's that the chill value adds in a team would be awarded a jet set and go travel to a different office.

Steven Talbot: So we now have that university for the entire organization. So four times a year one of our people will come to one of our hub offices. And that's about it from 10 up to $40,000. For regional people to travel, there was massive cultural loss. If you can't transmit and transfer those ideals That don't occur.

Steven Talbot: So, and then the other thing is learning programs. So instituting learning programs so that people can continue to develop, going to gain knowledge outside of the organization and bring that back in. That's been the big focus for us. So doubling down on our value propositions to provide a good environment, still being surrounded by good people in person and remotely and then opportunities for growth.

John Healy: Cool. Intrigued with the learning aspect of it, one of the big knocks on Uber is that they miss the opportunity where they had so many drivers sitting waiting to pick up their next ride and never used that as an opportunity to promote upskilling and development of the workforce.

John Healy: And I feel like in many cases in the staffing industry, we have a similar situation where you have people who are, you know, maybe they're, they've been looking for work for a while, or they're just not happy with the types of opportunities that are being presented in front of them. And that opportunity for upskilling and learning to, to kind of elevate their position, certainly represents an opportunity in the marketplace for everyone to think about.

John Healy: Adam, I want to come over to you and talk. You talked about culture and subcultures early on in the introduction. So you wrote it was the reinvention of company culture and can you maybe take us through what you've had to do to develop the culture at your organization in this remote world now, how has that been, you know, clearly had to be personalized in many ways but what's been unique for you as you think about company culture inside LinkedIn, such a large global organization, but also very local teams.

Adam Hawkins: Yeah. I think John, I can share some of that, but I also share some of the observations that we're seeing, you know, with a large number of people on the platform. It's really interesting to see some of the trends as well. I think when we talk about reinvention of company culture to remote work, I think the first thing to call out is we all gravitate to.

Adam Hawkins: The pandemic, but the reality is that it's not just the pandemic, that's driving this, you know, we've seen a material shift and, you know, there's a rise of millennials and gen Z or gen Z entering and reshaping the workforce that we have today. So that is going on as well. And there's, you know, I think as John said, you know, we've got record numbers of people leaving their jobs internally or externally finding new employees.

Adam Hawkins: And I think businesses really need to align their culture now to what employees want, because ultimately the power is with the employee or the candidate. And people that don't figure that out will not secure the best talent. I think there's four areas that I think are really important to think about.

Adam Hawkins: And we certainly see in some I've certainly felt if I start with a first one and I agree with Steven on this. You know, the nine to five does not exist anymore. You know, the conventional structures of employment do not work. So after two years remote, nobody wants to work nine to five. Ultimately, the headline is employees want freedom of flexibility and we've really moved from.

Adam Hawkins: The material shift where working remotely with flexibility was like a deemed benefit. We've quickly adjusted like the workforce, you know, policies, but ultimately, and again, Steven mentioned this, we're operating now with freedom, but ultimately what I determined is the trust contract, you know, empowering people to decide where they do their best work and how they do it.

Adam Hawkins: So that freedom is essential. The second point. And it talks a bit to mindfulness that Steven mentioned is that good work-life balance is absolutely the highest priority for employees and job hunters. You know, our data will absolutely tell you that, you know, demonstrating your culture and your go to market proposition.

Adam Hawkins: That includes work-life balance will is a much higher priority in many cases to excellent compensation. And that's from, you know, a 2021 survey that we did. So when I look at things like Flexibility and work-life balance, if we don't offer that, people will walk away because they've got ultimate choices.

Adam Hawkins: Now, I think where we were probably six months ago is there was still the fear of, you know, last in first out, I think, you know, the great reshuffle has really resonated and people are not afraid to walk out if they don't get the work-life balance, they want I think being a little bit flippant, but people expect a lot more than yoga and health insurance now mental health is massively important and people need to have a clear support structure and mechanism around that.

Adam Hawkins: And I think what we're talking about today, John, in terms of leadership is that. Very simply work is one to feel like the people that work for their bosses care about them and taking time and attention to do that, which I think is I think one of the benefits from you know, the pandemic and work intentionally is that people are asking, how are you a lot more?

Adam Hawkins: And I think people are a bit more cognizant that people are walking in and out of calls and then they go into their life and their life is intertwined as well. So I think that will remain and is very important. The third area is about how working culture evolved. And I think one of the panelists mentioned, this is you know, when we've been pulled maybe on a cultural presence is, and we've also had a bit of a culture of like the 1:00 AM hero.

Adam Hawkins: It's no more, it's very much, you know, you've got to make room for work-life balance employees. Re-evaluating where, when, how they do their best work for companies that offer that flexibility or getting ahead. If I think about positioning out to market and winning the war on talent, you know, companies really need to refine their employee branding and they need evidence that this is living in their business as well.

Adam Hawkins: The final thing, which I think is a real positive out of the pandemic, but also I think it's, this is definitely something being driven by the millennials and genZ. One thing that's happened while working from home is that many of us have reduced their commuter time. You know, we've suddenly had two hours, you know, I traveled the tube every day to London or I'm on a plane, you know, I've got effectively two hours back, you know, if I'm smart around that and I don't jam it with more meetings what do I do with that time?

Adam Hawkins: So actually what people have actually done is invested in what's important to them from a personal purpose. Now let's be very clear. Gen Z do not need a company anymore to help them define their purpose, but they are looking for businesses that have a complimentary purpose agenda to them. And actually what we're seeing now is candidates employees looking for companies that support what is different, the finders, the side hustle, you know, can I pursue my personal project, whether it's non-for-profit or revenue generating, but will you allow me to develop my interests, which I've had time to do during a remote work.

Adam Hawkins: Now, you know, companies also need to be very clear on what they're asking, but that trade off in trust again, between allowing me to develop what's personally important to me and complimentary to the business, I think is very important. And I think you'll see a lot more John, on, on the working agenda around like dual roles, flexibility, you know, condense weeks to allow people to pursue that.

Adam Hawkins: And I think companies are comfortable with that sort of coexistence of personal projects and side hustles. Again, are the people that are going to understand that the employees need flexibility and balance. 

John Healy: Thanks Adam. So you're hitting on some real points of personalization in leadership that I need to know about the individual workers, I can't just kind of type cast them or your Bucket A Bucket B, Bucket C but that the relationship has become highly individual along the way.

John Healy: So I want to maybe shift back to each of you, you've all been in leadership roles in your organization for a while. Again we've got three founders on the line who have built something. I think that speaks to an element just within the industry in and of itself. But what are you personally doing to prepare yourself to lead differently as a result of this?

John Healy: Is there any particular learning or education process that you're going through different process that you've set up for yourself that may have proven to be effective or ineffective for you? Along the way to maybe help the other leaders on the line out there. I'll leave that for any of you to chime in on 

Jon Beck: John. Can I go? I'll start. 

Jon Beck: Cause I want, I don't want to miss responding to one of Adam's points about. You know, promoting and accepting the side hustle and the different, you know, environment that we live in today. I'm in total agreement with Adam our politicians and legal system, at least here in the states, is not necessarily following suit.

Jon Beck: And so as a business owner, there are third rails surrounding us everywhere. And it's even worse here in California, where we have to be really mindful of how we're paying our people, how we're keeping all the things that a staffing company wrestles with and has potential exposure. Let's be honest, it is really challenging.

Jon Beck: I think the way to respond to it while the political and legal system catches on. Is to be as a leader, more accepting and creating an identity for the business, which is in line with what our employees are asking for and giving them a voice, whether that's social responsibility causes or diversity and inclusion initiatives, all the things that this generation thankfully is more mindful and wanting.

Jon Beck: We want to give them an opportunity to use the business as a way to carry that message forward. That's the first step. All the other tactical things behind it to support the side hustle and worker classification, whatnot. We have to play within the legal bounds and do what we can to support, you know, along the way without hitting that third rail.

Jon Beck: So it's challenging. And that's one of the things that I look at is how can we promote this as our, as part of our culture and the way that we do things while we stay within the lines. 

John Healy: Cool. Just as we go on and I'll let others respond, but I just saw another poll out, just asking, does your organization encourage your workforce to have side hustle?

John Healy: And by that I'm specifically saying promote it like that. It's a good thing versus having to hide it. So for the audience, go ahead and respond out there. But in the meantime, anyone else want to speak at some of what they're doing to kind of develop their own leadership style in dealing with more remote workers?

Steven Talbot: Yeah. So I think a practical thing that we did is that we've been in hyper-growth for a decade. So in every 18 to 20, 21 months, we doubled in size. So we reorg continuously. And then during the pandemic, at the beginning of the pandemic, coincided with our you know, organizational planning sessions, when we realized there's so much legacy infrastructure that is geographically tethered most reporting lines were geographic, regionally focused.

Steven Talbot: And that's just irrelevant. Now for most organizations. 90%, fully remote whoops, and partially and 6% on the site. And that those are people that choose generally everyone, everyone can be a funny agreement, but the mechanisms of leadership and accountability emotionally based on geographic systems and move out, dismantling those and rebuilding those.

Steven Talbot: You don't realize one of the gaps and particularly for people that the Balsam joint joining the organization, they don't know who to go to, where to go to get answers, accountability, and all those sorts of things. So redesigning an organization totally ignoring geographic location was a big thing that we've continuously done.

Steven Talbot: And we're still two years later finding things that are actually innovation on geography, which is now no longer relevant. So that's important, making sure that those are invisible digitally, but when you're in a physical space, The hierarchy is visual. You can see it about space and that doesn't exist anymore.

Steven Talbot: So we've particularly our management teams, we've reorganized around where all of the organic interactions happen. Your managers and mentors should be the people that you are interacting with consistently because you're working on similar projects, initiatives, and similar clients. So we're trying to reinforce that opportunity for osmosis that has evaporated in the last couple of years.

Steven Talbot: So that's something very practical. And then from an education standpoint you know, learning how to lead and particularly generational gaps in understanding people's motivations, what they're really here for has been a big focus for us. I'm sure we'll get onto the cultural motivation stuff later as well.

Sam Pessin: Yeah, my, my 2 cents on this one is as a leader, I just try to focus on three things, which is connecting everyone to the mission or the company, connecting them to each other, and then connecting them to me and the rest of the leadership team. And I think something Steven said earlier in one of his points was around how much you invest in, in person meetups and in-person time.

Sam Pessin: And for me, that's the easiest number one way to do it. I think remote only works. If you have some cadence of meeting up in person at a regular, you know, three months, six months or potentially 12 month increment. I think if you do that, everything about remote becomes so much better. You know, you use that in-person time for personal bonding and conductivity, as well as strategic planning and goal setting.

Sam Pessin: And, you know, you're already miles and miles ahead. I think of how most companies operate in a remote environment. So that's one big one. I think the other one for us is around goal setting. And how important that becomes in a remote environment. I think teams can really get motivated by seeing clear goals, having direction of how they connect to those goals.

Sam Pessin: Like what is my part in these, you know, five organizational priorities for the year, and then on a monthly basis looking back and saying, Hey, we did these three. We, you know, we nailed it. And these other two didn't quite get there and let's talk about why and how we're going to fix it. I think that the whole goal system and performance review needs to be so tight in a remote environment.

Sam Pessin: And so well thought out and, you know, like the amount that we prep for those types of meetings with our team is so much greater than you know, other roles I've had in the past where you just all get in a room and sort of talk about it. So I think you just need to be really intentional with how that works and it has the ability to really.

Sam Pessin: Everyone to the organization and to each other. So I, those are probably the two most important things in person time. And then when you're, when you are remote, having those systems built for sort of operationalizing that plan that you came up with and you built together in person at a, at an offsite.

John Healy: Cool, Adam. 

Adam Hawkins: Yeah. Is it just a few and try to keep it quite practical and simple? I think if I think about personal ownership, it's, you know, everything I said is like walking the talk. So, you know, you know, not sending that email at nine o'clock at night, cause it fits me, you know, actually just delaying the timer of sending that out.

Adam Hawkins: I think as a business we've committed to, you know, a cadence of no internal meeting Fridays, for example, just to give employees to breathe, you know, obviously, you know, you know, does everybody, is everybody able to confirm that? Not always, but. If the best outcome is that people get some breathing space on a Friday afternoon or Friday morning to do some stuff.

Adam Hawkins: That's been working really well and been really well received. Obviously client meetings, sort of, are very important. I think investing in wellbeing, you know, again, walking the talk around that, you know, giving people the space to talk, communicate, I think from a practical point of view. And I mentioned it in my opening, John or around sort of, you know, one size doesn't fit all, you know, we've had to think very cleverly around, you know, what is, what do people need?

Adam Hawkins: So, you know, especially when, and it was quite an interesting epiphany when. I spoke to somebody that joined the organization and they have never been in the office. And I was like, how's your onboarding? And they were like, there's a lot to go through. And actually the hardest bit is that it's taken me 45 days to have 30 copies, you know, online, which I could probably have done in one week in the office.

Adam Hawkins: So it's about, you know, segmenting your business and thinking that actually, you know, some of our people that were maybe living in a flat one bedroom flat in Canary Wharf, you know, are really struggling and they need to be in the office and they are missing opportunities to learn by osmosis, all the stuff that can go in an onboarding manual or an instructor led, know, session through zoom.

Adam Hawkins: But actually there are many people that have gardens and actually are embracing the remote environment where they do have the freedom, because they've got knowledge of the business they're already attached to the culture. So we've really thought about, you know, trying that and ultimately I think what it sort relates to.

Adam Hawkins: You know, what does the office become as well? You know, I've had a sort of mindset that I don't come to the office to work. I come to the office to connect and collaborate. So our spaces need to be different. We need to think about that. And it's okay to say I'm going in just to meet people, because I think Sam mentioned it is like, you know, people value that.

Adam Hawkins: And if you can come with this sort of, again, you can't run a team of developers in San Fran, the way you could run the sales team in Germany. So what leaders have to do is build in the right cultural tenants, things like team norms. So like what works for us as a team, you know, you know, does it work to come in every third, Tuesday?

Adam Hawkins: Can everybody get in? And is that a good time for us to connect and actually appreciate that we're not all going to come in and just work on a laptop. We're actually going to speak to each other. We're going to learn, we're going to share. And I think that's the way, you know, it's trial and error, working, getting feedback and talking to the teams and going back to the point of like listening as a boss to what's important for you.

John Healy: Cool. Thanks for sharing that each of you and I added one more poll on how many, no meeting days per week, does your organization have seen a recent study on it that showed that the optimal impact in terms of worker engagement was at three for organization. So look it up on LinkedIn. I'll see if I can find the post ping me afterwards.

John Healy: I'm sure I can track it down for people, but I'm curious about where organizations are there and then I'll go back to the previous poll, which was about whether or not organizations promote side hustle. 60%, no, 30 or 40%, yes. Inside an organization. So we're still in that mixed side of things right now.

John Healy: So I want to kind of come back to that aspect of a side hustle. You know, we've all seen the rise of the gig workforce, the emergence of this open talent marketplace, where we don't want to call it the passionate economy. Or that the creator economy that's out there, we're still seeing about 60% of people that are operating in that marketplace are doing it on a part-time basis versus a full-time basis.

John Healy: But they're clearly indicating I want to do more of it along the way. So as you know, I guess, for anyone who wants to respond, having your employee population working remotely. Has to have changed the perceptions of how you engage your external workforce, you know, do we still give out different color badges for internal workers versus external workers?

John Healy: Do we say people aren't allowed to come to a meeting because they're not on our salary payroll. Yeah. Some of those barriers have shifted and changed along the way. So I'm just curious, you know, particularly if I look, you know, for Steven and John, as leading companies that are assigning your workforce out to other customers, are you seeing how they engage your workers as part of their teams changing in a material way or is that co-employment paranoia that has been out there for so long?

John Healy: Is that still a cornerstone of how your workers are being.

Steven Talbot: Good. And you only, if you want to go, 

John Healy: I mean, 

Jon Beck: Yeah,

Steven Talbot: Exactly. And I wish for emotionally good answers. It's interesting. So we co-developed a motivational profiling framework with a group of behavioral scientists a few years ago. And we focused on being a high-performance organization. We wanted to see what, you know, environmental and personal factors went into that. We also allow most of our clients to use it and sometimes, you know, complete full campaigns to assess the motivational state for workforces.

Steven Talbot: It's based on something called self-determination theory, which maybe I'll S I'll save that for another time. But frankly, no, for the most part there is still a lawyer that lines, you know, permeable and changing depending on the type of the organization. We do a little business in health and with hospital systems.

Steven Talbot: And for example, in nursing, there's been a significant trend tools, travel nursing and away from permanent nursing, particularly during the pandemic nurses have been incredible. They'd be moving across the country, across the world to go to these areas of demand. And there are the same lessons that staffing organizations are learning and or organizations are learning about themselves.

Steven Talbot: These big hospital systems that have done things the same way for decades and are being forced to reckon with the way that they treat their staff and the differences between, you know, permanent contracts. So. Well they're finding that there are a lot of benefits now that the staffing and contract providers have that they don't provide internally.

Steven Talbot: So I think with helping each other, providing that internal competition to raise the game and particularly in supply constrained talent areas, to make sure that we were providing fulfilling careers. I think my general answer is not yet. There's still a distinction. But it's heading in the right direction because of Goodwill, good intentions, but market forces health.

Jon Beck: Yeah, I would agree with that as well, from what we're seeing. I think a lot of it depends on the job function too. You know, if you're a graphic designer you're probably less of a threat to have access or steal intellectual property versus a software developer. That being said, we're seeing a lot of our contractors come forward with, you know, their own incorporation and paperwork, frankly to come back to us and to the clients that we represent and say, I do work on multiple projects.

Jon Beck: I do have the proper insurance to account for it, and I'm going to operate under the assumption that you have the right guard rails in place to ensure that I'm not having access to information they shouldn't see. So I think the workers are driving a lot of that behavior as well, which we encourage, we think that's a good thing.

Jon Beck: There's not enough people on the planet to do the work that's required right now. And if people want to work 18 hour days and split that up into six hour shifts, then.

Sam Pessin: Just from the inside on my side. I mean, I would say a thousand percent to your question, John, like you, if you were in a meeting with five of our full-time employees and three independent contractors who we work with on, you know, SEO and design and maybe one other function you'd have no idea who was who I think there's the, it's this it's the same concept is what I was referring to earlier with the all or nothing rule everybody's sort of an equal on those meetings.

Sam Pessin: Right. And of course you know, there's different comp and benefits and everything behind that for different types of staff, but at the end of the day I think one of the benefits of remote work is that it ha at least for us has normalized that sort of gig economy work staff that, that helps us with a bunch of different projects all the time.

John Healy: Cool. I appreciate the timing there. I think so. You know, see the size and the level of engagement of open talent coming into more and more organizations. This idea of having walls between the types of workforce based on the employment contract that they're under is going to be more and more difficult for organizations to try to impose and coming up with a way to deal with that is something to look at.

John Healy: I, I encourage and apologize for the quick rant sidebar, but it's where we all have a responsibility to stand up and advocate for. What you know is right to make a workforce operate effectively for our clients and for our own organizations. Don't be silent on this, speak up and talk about what's right.

John Healy: Talk about what's important and leverage the power of your relationship with your workers who are telling us the answers to what works best there and what causes them to be part of the great resignation when it's simply not worthy. So, interestingly in the poll, I'll, I'm just going to just pop this up on the screen of the how many, no meeting days per week that we have.

John Healy: And we're 75%, 76.9, 2% that are in the zero to one. I'm guessing a lot of those are probably more on the zero side than the one. And I'm going to just go ahead in the chat posts, an article that I referenced it's from MIT Sloan that did some work on this to really look at and explore the implications.

John Healy: And if you're not having meeting free days particularly if you're operating in a remote environment, I would encourage kind of taking a look at it. Maybe sharing this article with some people inside your organization. Maybe just think a little bit differently of what's there and where productivity comes into play.

John Healy: So, we're at about 10 minutes left. If you've got a specific question that you want our panelists to answer, please add it into the Q/A. I'm going to kind of hit on one additional topic that has really come up a lot in the early part of the conversation. I think every one of you, as panelists as you either provided your introduction, or as you talked about where learning was, or some of the implications of what was going on, use the word trust.

John Healy: And as we were preparing for this session, I had put a question out and, you know, to, to people who followed me asking them questions that they wanted to ask them. One of the questions was to talk a little bit about the impact on trust, both horizontally. And vertically, so horizontally amongst your peers that are operating in a remote environment that maybe you hadn't operated remotely in the past, but then vertically up and down inside your organization on the implications of trust and why it matters most.

John Healy: So I'm not asking you to repeat what you've already covered, but if you've got another element that just really speaks to the importance of trust and maybe some of the techniques to develop that trust that have been important to you in your organizations,

Adam Hawkins: I'm happy to kick off John. I think trust and compassionate leadership is one of the most important things today and going forward, I think Sam referenced it around, you know, productivity and performance measures as well. I think, you know, you know, having a sort of a basis or a viewpoint of I'm going to lead with trust I'm going to empower my organization to.

Adam Hawkins: Decide where they work, how they work. But they've also got to be very clear on what works for the organization as well, because I think the fear from some leaders is like, do we just then generate and degrade somewhat the culture because we're allowing people to do what. So I think there's two points to that on the basis of leading with trust.

Adam Hawkins: You've got to be clear on what performance and productivity looks like and what success is in the business to hold people accountable. And the great thing is when someone knows better than I, you know, you've got technology to drive accountability. And I think the fear pre pandemic was, can we do that?

Adam Hawkins: The reality is absolutely we can't. I think then it's about what is the fabric and culture and the DNA of a business and what are those cultural values and tenants that hold us together as a combined organization. And I think that's the clever bit and the hard bit to get. Right. You know, because I think there's going to be a trade.

Adam Hawkins: You know, here of what a business wants to stand by it and what it wants to be known for and what its purpose is. And, you know, some businesses may gravitate to be more present. They might have more flexibility around things like no meeting days, but I think the company also has to take some level of stance and you, as a leader of what you think is going to deem acceptable, have listened and cared and learnt from your organization.

Adam Hawkins: And I think, you know, I call that, you know, when I've been speaking about it is about establishing this trust contract, you know, and if people are then not conforming and they're not delivering, then you've at least got that contract. That's been formed on the basis. And I think that's what businesses are working out, but they're also working that out per team and peril per sub organization.

Adam Hawkins: And I think getting that right is where the conversation is right now, Jon. 

Jon Beck: Yeah. Adam, I love the term, the trust contract as well. I think it takes time to develop that contract. I think to Sam's point and Sam, we'd also spend a lot of time preparing for how we're going to communicate our corporate goals and deliver those to the individual and what it means to them and how they're contributing to those.

Jon Beck: And along the way, you may get there different ways by employee buys, teams and departments, cause not one size doesn't fit all. You're seeing the same thing happen in, in coaching of athletes. More coaches are now understanding that different personalities are going to respond to different types of coaching.

Jon Beck: And it's absolutely true with employees as well to some people you want to leave alone so they can have the space to do their things. Other people need a lot of guidance in particular, in a remote world. And that takes effort and time. And back to the original comment around becoming a better manager people are not reshuffling and taking on new jobs necessarily because of money, although that's some of it, but it's really about am I in an environment where I feel.

Jon Beck: Like I am valued where I feel like I have an opportunity for growth and that people understand how I am going to get to where I want to go. And that it's not entitlement necessarily. That's investing in your employees.

Steven Talbot: What are you going to get? Sam, you go, thanks.

Sam Pessin: I'll keep it quick. But I think the unique thing about a remote environment is that you really need to lean on work to build trust more so than you know, typical personal relationship building that you can do more easily when you're in person or in an office environment.

Sam Pessin: And I think we try to especially in the early days of somebody starting, which is really when you're in the trust building phase to just going back to the goals and goal setting goal cascading that John and I have talked a lot about. To give people really clear cut priorities and really clear cut accountabilities early on.

Sam Pessin: They can then deliver on, is an incredible trust building exercise, right? Like that first time that somebody new starts on the team and you say, Hey, I need this report by Wednesday, that has XYZ. And they deliver the report, you know, on Tuesday night. And as everything you were looking for that's trust, right.

Sam Pessin: That builds so much trust when you're working on something together and you can deliver results together in a remote environment. And so I think that the question is, you know, how do you create moments like that and how do you create culture and communications that enable that to happen between many people on the team.

Sam Pessin: And also of course, between you and your leadership team and everybody else at the company. 

Steven Talbot: Yeah, I think so. Well, so well said trust and transparency go hand in hand. So we'd go setting, okay. All frameworks, those sorts of things. Very good. And then. I think the foundation is a, you know, an abundance mindset that sets off a positive link, where everyone's appreciative and grateful for each other.

Steven Talbot: They can trust each other and give each other the freedoms to be able to autonomously and what will, 

John Healy: All right. So as we get ready to close up I want to ask one final question for everyone to answer and we'll reverse order. So Steven, you're going to go first and then we'll get Sam and Jon and then we'll get Adam to, to finish us off.

John Healy: Is this remote work and work from anywhere phenomenon that we are all living with today? Is it here to stay or is it a fad? Steven 

Steven Talbot: Is Here is still Its not going anywhere. 

John Healy: Sam 

Sam Pessin: Agreed. Not going anywhere, 

John Healy: Jon. 

Jon Beck: A hundred percent. Yes.

John Healy: Adam?

Adam Hawkins: Yeah, definitely new normal. And as I said, it's not just because the pandemic is because of the integration of millennials and gen Z into the workforce.

Adam Hawkins: Absolutely. Here to stay. 

John Healy: Excellent. Well, I want to thank the audience, the 121 of you who are still here with us who have participated all the way through for the conversation and dialogue that's been going on in the chat for the questions that were submitted ahead of time to Jan and the team at candidate.ly Who put together this event, you know, let's just look at this simple aspect of it.

John Healy: We talk about leadership and we talk about a change. This is an event that we used to all have to get on a plane to go to only a select few were able to be there. And instead today we're seeing. The last number I heard was 9,300 people registered for the event over the course of the week to kind of tap into the sessions that are really meaningful to them.

John Healy: So congrats to Jan and his team for pulling this together for another year. Steven, Adam, John, Sam, thank you for joining us today. Appreciate it. And thanks to everyone on the line.


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John Healy

Adam Hawkins

Jon Beck

Sam Pessin

Steven Talbot




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