Rethinking remote hiring with David Dawoud from Demo Desk

In this week’s episode of More Beach Meetings, we sat down with David Dawoud, Head of People at Demo Desk. David manages a team of 50 employees scattered across the world and has proven that a hybrid structure can and does work. By combining flexible work conditions with face-to-face meetings, Demo Desk are enjoying the best of both worlds.

During this chat with David, we dive deep into his remote hiring process and discuss his less-is-more approach to retreat planning. He also reveals his secret method for balancing cultural fit and competency!

Listen to the podcast below, or read on for some highlights from our conversation.

Listen More Beach Meetings on iTunes or Spotify.

Rethinking remote hiring

Once you’ve decided to broaden your hiring process to include a global talent pool, the question of where (and how) to begin looking can quickly come to mind. For this David recommends taking a tiered approach. First, consider if it’s a unique skill. Is it something specialized that only select people can do? If that’s the case, you might want to think about letting go of geographic restrictions to give yourself the widest reach during your search.

However, perhaps you need them to be in the same time zone. If they’re working closely with specific team members or dealing directly with customers in a given area, it may be more important for you to fix your search in a more dedicated region.

Once you’re able to determine those factors you can turn inward to determine what you want and what your culture goals are for your company. “You need to be comfortable making bold decisions,” David shares, “you’ll always be better off being outspoken about what you want from your future employees. [If you do that] you’ll find people that want that too.”

Culture vs. competency

Another key consideration, David notes, is the concept of a culture fit versus a competency fit. Striking a balance between the two is often key to finding the best hire for your organization. Someone whose a 70% skills fit for a role and a 30% culture fit is always going to blend better with your company than someone who is a 90:10 split either way.

Understanding behaviour and how an individual’s interpersonal skills fit within the company will be central to making the right decision, not just for you but for your employees as well. The more a team is able to connect and get to known one another, the more they’re able to grow together and work through challenges.

A less is more approach to retreat planning

And a huge part of that team growth comes in the moments when you’re able to spend time with one another, face-to-face. For that, offsite experiences are becoming increasingly important, especially for companies with remote-first work structures. 

At Demo Desk, retreats are an annual thing and the focus is always two-fold: having fun and team-bonding. In David’s opinion, the less you organize the better. While it’s vital to have goals and some form of structure to your retreat, avoiding overscheduling and taking a more fluid approach to the planning process can invite more opportunities for team members to build natural, spontaneous connections. 

There’s been a reduction in the focus on work during offsites — instead concentrating on engaging employees more casually and giving them options for how they choose to socialize and connect. It’s about extending social life into the office and giving people a space where they feel free to show up in a way that works for them; whether that’s exploring the city, grabbing a coffee or having that brainstorming session they’ve been putting off for months. Set people up with options, trust personalities to be able to figure out themselves and let your team handle the rest.

And David’s final piece of advice when planning an offsite? Consider hiring a partner to help coordinate details and mitigate any issues that arise. Surf Office worked with Demo Desk on their last retreat in Lisbon, assisting with booking venues, setting up events and making reservations. “It takes away all of the worry so that you can focus on content, making sure everyone is animated when they get there. [...] An agency [like Surf Office] really allows you to focus on that moment,” David shares. And it’s those moments that really bring your team together.

For more from David Dawoud, you can listen to the full episode up above, check out the Demo Desk website, or follow along with David on LinkedIn, here. Catch more stories on remote work, retreats and company culture on the next episode of “More Beach Meetings.” Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.

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