I was speaking recently with Arie Ball recently about her tracks at #trulondon and what might be interesting to attendees about the Sodexo story. I know the story quite well, it is a fantastic case story of implementing social recruiting on a vast scale. The part of the story that is very different however is that the Talent Acquisition team that Arie heads all work virtually across the States.

When you talk about virtual teams and working from home, you get very mixed reactions, largely around a fear of how you can get a team to work together when they are so far apart, as well as questions over whether people really give 100% when they are sat at home.

This is Arie’s thoughts on virtual team working:

Nothing but the best, and cats on keyboards.

Last week, as I shared my #TruManchester experience, I mentioned I would also share how my team has been so successful in a virtual environment. I am often asked what it is like to lead a virtual team of nearly 100 who are recruiting for over 4000 managers and professionals each year, across the US. I am a huge fan of a virtual work environment, not just because I don’t have to deal with sitting in traffic, hunting down a close parking spot, or bad hair days. And while many companies tout Casual Friday’s, when we are not traveling, every day is a Casual Friday for our team—we call it Recruiter Casual. The real reason I love the virtual workplace is that I can hire the best people, regardless of where they live, and still focus on a building a performance culture and producing business results.

When we formed the department, we believed that staffing with home-based employees would offer a number of benefits beyond recruiter casual. It allowed us to provide better and more flexible support with the natural ebb and flow of our multiple businesses. And of course, we were able to reduce expenses—an undeniable advantage.

To have a successful virtual organization, we need the highest levels of engagement and a team that gives 120%. Our mission, vision and values are clear:

We value our customers, team work and innovation, and celebrate best practices while measuring and rewarding results.

We also need to be deliberate and intentional about building engagement and facilitating communications and team relationships to prevent some of the feelings of isolation and being disconnected that can occur when working remotely. Our culture of recognition is best illustrated by the huge number of appreciation cards and other forms of recognition team members give to one another.

Enter the water cooler. When you work in a brick and mortar environment, you have water cooler time to catch up with colleagues. Working virtually, we have water cooler time too. As part of our weekly meeting, we connect virtually and share news and pictures of life events and personal stories of interest—the birth of a new baby, or training for a half-marathon, or even running into President Obama on a vacation to Washington DC. Have you tried a virtual baby and wedding shower, or a virtual holiday party or even recognition celebrations? Our team likes to party. A themed “Party-in-a-Box” delivered to each doorstep whose contents is always a surprise adds to the fun and games we enjoy together via an interactive team webinar experience. As we are laughing together through the games, yummy snacks, raffles, and prizes—for a moment it is easy to forget that our team is located in 38 different states across the country. And best is that the dress is Recruiter Casual, fuzzy slippers, optional.

While it’s natural to connect to one another in a live workplace, you have to be very intentional in a virtual environment. It takes more effort, but it is certainly possible to have the same, if not a greater, level of engagement.

Oh, one other thing. Most offices don’t allow pets in the workplace, but in your home office, roaming animals are a force to be contended with. I have not yet come to grips with Max, my cat, who loves hanging out on my keyboard. If you do have tips on how I can take back keyboard ownership I look forward to hearing them when I come to #truLondon.

I’m really looking forward to joining Arie’s track on virtual working. There is a lot to learn from this story, and I’m really keen to explore how you can make it work. Hope you can join us on the 16′th – 18′th Feb.


Arie Ball

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