The Remote Talent Manager

If there is a job where personal relationships are of vital importance, then those working in HR definitely finish in the top three.We had a discussion with Anikó Takács, the Talent Manager of ALLWIN, about how personal relationships had changed during remote working as well as the advantages and disadvantages of virtual company life.

As a Talent Manager, your work is all about personal relationships. How big of a challenge did remote working pose to you?

It was exciting to get to used it, but that resulted from the unusual circumstances rather than my job. In March, we could not predict how long the virus would last and how it would transform our operations, so we continued recruiting developers and doing interviews, except we did it online. When it became obvious that the pandemic was not a short-term affair, we terminated these processes and focused on the onboarding of new colleagues.

How can you introduce a new colleague to the company life virtually?

Under normal circumstances, on the first day, we show the new person around the office, introduce them to everyone and then they get acquainted with their superiors and the CEO during lunch.

Naturally, these introductory events had been hold off lately, but we have managed to make up for them during our online programs, more or less. The current situation has its advantages, too. Newcomers don’t have to remember 48 names on their first day, and seeing all the names in email addresses and video calls makes this process a lot easier.

remote talent manager board game pandemic

While most companies are familiar with remote working to some extent, certain processes are always done personally. Was it difficult to migrate to this new setup?

We have come across difficulties because everybody prefers different platforms, so we had interviews on Skype, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. Sometimes the camera didn’t work or a cat walked into the picture. However, such funny situations just help lighten the mood. At times like this, we make extra effort to be friendly and nice with the interviewees, because we are aware that during a video call, we face difficulties on both sides of the screen. Whether somebody has the necessary skills for the job is recognizable virtually, too, and the same goes for professionalism and personality. This setup must have been more challenging for applicants, because they could not see or experience first-hand their future work environment.

From a Talent Manager’s perspective, what do you think the future will bring? Is there anything you’d like to keep doing as you did during the lockdown?

I hope that the quick communication and the smooth availability will both stay the same once we return to the office. When it comes to the future, I am an optimist. During our halt, we received plenty of CVs from great experts, with whom we would like to seek collaborations.

What do the colleagues think about being away from the others and having to work from home?

Most of them are used to remote working, and we have the assets to make it work, so the quarantine was trouble-free. People handled it well mentally, too, as many longed for home office even prior to the restrictions. Based on the feedback I received, lots of people would gladly continue to work from home.

remote talent manager team building goat cheese

In recent years, team-building events have become widely popular – nobody questions their importance and positive impact. What were the ALLWIN team-buildings like before the restrictions?

We have the so-called “Second Thursday of the Month” initiative within which we organize a program for the team on the second Thursday of each month. Before the restrictions, we went go-karting and dragon boating, we made cheese at a goat farm, and we also visited some special restaurants together. The “Second Thursday of the Month” has become a real tradition, but this year we added a twist to the story. Each month a different team takes up the baton of organizing it. What’s more, we also have self-organized events, for example airsoft plays and board game nights, but some used to go to the gym or played squash together. Also, ALLWIN’s birthday is coming up in November, which means a 3-day-long retreat with lots of eating, drinking and wellness. I hope that we do not have to cancel it this year, as it really strengthens the community spirit.

How did these events change in the light of the restrictions?

We certainly do not do sports together, but I hope this will resume. In addition, we have “digitalized” our team-buildings: we played board games online and had virtual beer parties and quiz nights.

Sometimes we have a coffee or lunch together online, and we have also come up with a challenge game, within which we try to transfer our informal daily office chats and interactions into the virtual space. There were daily individual and group challenges and by accomplishing them, participants collected points and the winners got rewards at the end of the month. Tasks varied, as we received lots of suggestions from the team – sometimes playful, at other times more thought-provoking ones. All of this came alive in a Microsoft Teams channel that functioned pretty much as a virtual kitchen. We had the conversations we were used in the office and we also got to know sides of each other that we haven’t seen before.

remote talent manager online board gaming

How do you feel personally nowadays? Has it been mentally stressful for you?

It was difficult at first, because I am not a fan of home office. I love chatting with my colleagues and it is also part of my job. At home, I had to come up with a new system. It took me about three weeks to be able to focus as well as I do in the office and not feel absolutely useless. However, the good news is that I have a lot more time for things I haven’t had time before.

A big drawback of home office is that your work and your private life seem to merge together. What does your experience tell you about that?

I have been careful from the beginning to set boundaries. I dedicated a spot for work and once I am done for the day, I put everything away that doesn’t have to do anything with leisure time.