Prior to the pandemic, remote work didn’t rank all too high on the organisational calendars. For Bullhorn, less was true — but they still saw a 30/70 split before the impact of COVID-19. “That is now right around 50/50”, Ginger Maseda, responsible for leading Bullhorn’s global talent acquisition, said during ToTalent Live 2021. “But as we aim for the future, 90% of our current open roles are permanently remote. It’s all part of a real shift we’ve seen in the workforce.”
“I always need to allow my team to get to know me as a person. To put my heart on my sleeve, so to speak.”
Before Maseda moved to Bullhorn, she held top recruiting roles at Amazon Web Services, Align Technology and Electronic Arts. Throughout her career, she has been known for being a ‘culture driver’, wherein she drives performance, engagement and experience for remote teams. “I’ve never met a member of my team”, she said. “So I always need to allow my team to get to know me as a person. To put my heart on my sleeve, so to speak. I’m a gamer. I met my husband playing video games — so I felt that the team should know.”
Combatting the storm with transparency
Maseda’s metaphor for the dire situation is an apt one. “We’re all going through the same storm, but we’re all doing it differently”, she said. “We’re all in different boats. The first pillar for leaders is empathy towards your teams. Seek to understand and make sure you’re opening up your mind, and really putting yourself in their shoes. Acknowledge the storm they’re going through — and lead the way.”
“You don’t have any water cooler conversations while working remotely, so you need to take on that humanity factor from afar.”
To combat that storm, trust and transparency are a must, Maseda said. “It is going to be unacceptable to not be transparent”, she continued. “Demonstrate to them that you’re listening and supporting them. You don’t have any water cooler conversations while working remotely, so you need to take on that humanity factor from afar. Virtual happy hours are great, but there are better ways.”
So the onus is on leaders to make a difference — and Maseda sees a variety of small things that can make a big difference in the long run. “When I worked with Amazon, I implemented Office Hours. One day a week, for one hour a day, I would open an office hour where I would have my conference on for people to pop in and pop out to ask questions. It minimised the total amount of meetings in a week.”
“Recognition and reward is so important in recruiting. Sometimes it can be a thankless job, so we want to make sure we create happy moments for our recruiters.”
“But you could start with setting big team goals — and getting creative with it”, she said. “Get every head turned in the same direction. And celebrate wins, even the small ones. Recognition and reward is so important in recruiting. Sometimes it can be a thankless job, so we want to make sure we create happy moments for our recruiters. Keeping up morale is important, so organise trivia games or create relay races — where a project is based on true collaboration.”
The end of micromanagement?
Her words come during a time where some large enterprises have already made a U-turn with regards to its remote workforce strategy. Namely: Google, who recently announced that if employees want to work remotely fore more than 14 days per year, they’ll have to formally apply for it. Nevertheless, remote work will undoubtedly be here to stay — and Maseda’s lessons are applicable in any scenario.
“In your next 1-on-1, I urge you to zip it, and listen to your recruiters, rather than dictating the agenda. That’s being a leader in the remote working era.”
She saw her team become more productive because they felt bonded. “I’m a big believer in the greater good”, she said. “I’m not micromanaging my team, because they know their goals and I trust them to get there. Quite frankly, I don’t care how they get there. Mirror your culture, live your values — and make sure you’re open to their struggles. In your next 1-on-1, I urge you to zip it, and listen to your recruiters, rather than dictating the agenda. That’s being a leader in the remote working era.”