Building an Inclusive and Diverse Remote Work Environment, with Richard Odufisan

Gabriela Molina

Richard Odufisan is the Chief of Staff Tech Strategy and Transformation at Deloitte UK. He specializes in working with the company leaders to build a culture that enables people to feel connected and motivated.

Richard Odufisan

Read the transcript

Luis:

Welcome ladies and gentlemen to another episode of the DistantJob podcast, your podcast about leading and building awesome remote teams. I am your host, as usual, Luis. And with me today, my guest is Richard Odufisan. Richard is the Chief of Staff Tech Strategy and Transformation at Deloitte, UK. Richard, welcome to the show.

Richard Odufisan:

Luis, thank you so much for having me. It is a pleasure to be here.

Luis:

It’s a pleasure to have you. So let’s dive into your experience with remote work for starters. What was your first, second, third formative experience, let’s say, with remote work and how did it affect your way moving forward in your career and your current work-life philosophy?

Richard Odufisan:

So the job I do, I started as a technology consultant. So a lot of our work was going to client sites and then usually would be Monday to Thursday on site and Friday will either be in the London office or would be at home. So that was kind of the introduction to it. Just realizing that, yes, you can be on site, but Friday you still get as much done. Is that true? I think Fridays back then were kind of your get to see people and de-stress. But the big shift to remote came, I think like with many people, at the start of the pandemic where suddenly… I think if I remember it correctly, I was on a project up in Glasgow and we traveled up on the Monday fully expecting to be there until the Thursday to travel back.

Richard Odufisan:

And Monday at 12:00, we’re on a call that says, “Okay, just be ready. It’s possible that we might have to bring everyone home and close all the offices.” And at the point, this was February 2020, everyone was still looking at it like, “Oh, it’s not that bad, surely not. It’s not even here. It’s not affecting us. We’re going to stay.” And Tuesday at 10:00 AM, we got an email through to the whole UK firm that said, “Wherever you are, whatever project you’re on, go home now.” So suddenly everyone’s scrambling to work out, “What does this mean? How do I get home? Are there any flights available? Am I catching a train? What’s going on?”

Richard Odufisan:

And obviously that lasted for two years longer than everyone really expected it to. And I think the first few months of that are probably the most challenging working environments I had been in just because no one knew what it meant. What did it look like? How do you go from everything being set up for face to face and in person engagement to suddenly having to try to adapt the work that we were doing to this new virtual world, this remote working?

Luis:

So what was that adaptation like, right? What worked for you and what didn’t work? What were the biggest challenges and what kind of solutions did you and your team find?

Richard Odufisan:

So I think in the immediate aftermath, I think there’s two periods for me, the immediate aftermath where we hadn’t really switched our thinking to what it means to work remotely. So my way of working was always very much, “I don’t need to bother people with emails and spend every day going, this is what I’m doing. This is what I’m going to do. This is what I’ve done, blah, blah, blah,” because you will normally have seen me in the office and I will be moving from table to table. I’ll be talking to people, I’ll be running sessions. That all changes when you’re remote because you’re still doing the engagement with your team. But when the leadership teams or the client are trying to understand what it is that’s happening and see progress, my approach wasn’t working. It absolutely didn’t work because you can’t stay quiet in remote work. Silence is scary, particularly when people are depending on you or are trying to build up the trust in you to say, “I trust that this person who I’ve only known for a few weeks is doing the work they say they are.”

Richard Odufisan:

Comparing it to where we are now, I think I’ve had to learn a brand new style of communication, a brand new style of engagement that still works for me because I’m still not the person who’s going to be, “If you don’t need to know you don’t need to know.” But I am a lot more transparent in saying, “Okay, start of the week, here’s the regular checkup session. This is what we’re going to do. This is what we’re going to do. If you do need to ask me anything, here’s how you contact me,” so that I cater to their needs as well as my own. Which I think is a really important space to be in, particularly as I’m managing, not just the team working for me, but those people that I report up to as well as the chief of staff. So I think it’s been really important to flex that, to understand not just how I like to work, but also what those around me need for them to be successful.

Luis:

Yeah. Setting a style of communication where… I usually say that remote work goes to die in silence. When people wonder what you’re up to, that that’s when things aren’t going go according to plan.

Richard Odufisan:

It was so weird for me, I couldn’t get my head around it because the team I was working with, so managing downwards, everyone was like, “Yeah, Richard has given us the instructions. We know where we’re going as a team, we’re checking in regularly.” But the client product owners and those who were responsible and accountable for the success of the project who weren’t in those daily meetings, who weren’t seeing how all of the pieces were moving, they panicked. Absolutely panicked. It was like, “Are we sure? Is it definitely happening? Are we sure? Do we trust this guy? What’s going on? It doesn’t look like we’re moving. Change, everything needs to change.”

Luis:

Yeah. I mean, I have that version of it. When I onboard new people for my team, I always tell them because we have… I like to take a very hands off approach to managing. It’s a marketing team, so there’s no critical stuff being worked on. I usually tell my bosses, and they got angry at me sometimes, but I usually tell them, “There’s no emergencies in marketing. There’s nothing that can’t wait until Monday. It’s marketing for God’s sake.” So I’m in a bit of a nicer position than you where, things can break for your team in a way that they can break for mine. But still I usually tell, “Look, there’s only a problem… ” I tell this to my employees when I’m onboarding, “Just don’t make me guess what you’re working on. You can work at your own pace and you can set up your own goals and PPIs. I don’t need you to over commit to anything. Just don’t make me guess what you’re up to.”

Richard Odufisan:

Exactly. And this is why I’m pretty flexible as well with my time in my day. It would be lovely to have all the time in the world to do things but I know there are always going to be people who have a question or want to have a chat. And in the new remote world, a two minute chat has become a 15 to 30 minute meeting. But what I am very deliberate on is that even if every other meeting moves around 20 times, check-ins and daily catchups, the ones that allow me to know not just what you’re doing, but what you need from me when you’re in my team, those don’t move, that is my red line for things that cannot be moved.

Richard Odufisan:

Nothing is more important than the check-ins because it also enables me to support their development properly. In this new world, it’s so easy to lose sight of how difficult it can be to learn as a more junior team member when you’ve not got people around you constantly that you can absorb things off just by virtue of being in the same room. So I am so intent that when you leave my team, because eventually you will, we’ll move on to different things, I want you to feel like you’ve gained something and that you are better at the end than you were when you started.

Luis:

Yeah. That makes all sense. And it helps you as well. I found that the hardest time was when we were a small team and the mentor was me, I was the mentor. But now that the team has enlarged a bit and the people that I was the mentor of, a couple of fantastic ladies that I was the mentor of when I was building the team, now they mentored the other people. So I find myself with a little bit more time to and room to breathe. But, but yeah, when you are the person that needs to be mentoring the remote workers, it’s tough because what I found is… I was answering a question about this today. The term I used was tactful knowledge, that just get passed around when people are in a room.

Luis:

That doesn’t really happen in remote work. You need to actually have the intention. You need to be intentional about people learning how to work, where you are working. I mean, I have a remote work podcast. I work at a remote work based recruitment agency. So I consider myself a remote work evangelist, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t have costs. I happen to think that the benefits outweigh the costs, but there’s definitely a big cost in energy and intentionality when onboarding people.

Richard Odufisan:

Absolutely, yeah. And that point you make about the tacit knowledge that’s being passed down. People forget just all the things that are what we used to call soft skills. But I think the non-technical skills about how you speak about different topics, whether it’s a meeting with a CEO or a team meeting, how do you change the content for the right context? Do you know what I mean? Even those little things, understanding that the way that you… I mean, as a consultant, a lot of our work is just giving clients the confidence that we know what we’re talking about, even when we don’t. And that’s a lot of time. When you’re new to this, or you’ve not had that opportunity to learn the confidence and how to kind of bat away a question in a way that’s professional, but doesn’t commit you to something like you forget just all of these little things that play a big part further down the line. I think that intention is so important. Being able to say, “This is why.”

Luis:

So that’s interesting. So tell me a bit more about what ways you’ve found to give off that impression, to build that trust between yourself and your team and your clients virtually because that’s not something that is talked about a lot and you’re right, it’s very important. I used to joke that playing a lot of World of Warcraft prepared me to do remote work. But the reality is that when it comes to social mores, when it comes to how you’re social in World of Warcraft, if you try to have that behavior with a client, or even in a business, you’d be out of the door pretty quick because there’s just something about you’re much less formal. And certainly you say a lot more of stuff that you shouldn’t do on that kind of more comfortable setting. It’s like you can’t act at work as you act in the pub.

Richard Odufisan:

No. And learning those skills is something that isn’t necessarily taught, you don’t get taught it in lessons. And I think if I look at how we were when we were full time on the ground because we’ve moved to more of a hybrid model now where you can go into the office, you can go into client sites, or you can work from home. It’s more to do with where you feel you work best. But a lot of it, particularly when you are dealing with situations that you don’t know the answer to, is having that confidence to know the difference between, “I don’t know,” And “Well, this is what I know and this is how I’m going to fill the gap.”

Richard Odufisan:

So I remember coming in as a fresh graduate it and I had all of the confidence that I was like, “Yeah, I’m never going to say I don’t know.” “Can you do X, Y, or Zed?” says the client and I’m like, “Yes, absolutely. There is nothing in the world that would stop me from being able to do this.” And then my manager’s like, “What are you talking about? We can’t do this, this isn’t [inaudible 00:13:36] scope. Why are you saying all these words?”

Richard Odufisan:

And now what I try to do with my team members is, number one, be more transparent when they ask me questions that I don’t know and just get them comfortable with the fact that sometimes the answer is, “I don’t know, but I this person will know. So I’ll have a conversation with them and come back to you.” Or, “Actually this is the answer I’m really confident on.” Or, “To be honest, I don’t know. And I don’t think it’s important but I’m happy to follow up if you still do.” Modeling more the behaviors that I would like them to develop is a key part of my approach to leadership, to enable people, to feel comfortable with not being perfect because I feel perfection and that chasing after perfection is probably one of the worst things when it comes to the development and opportunities to learn because if you are worried about being perfect, you usually stop, or you don’t take a step forward. You don’t try. If you are worried that it’s not going to work.

Richard Odufisan:

People have a habit of letting fear of imperfection stop them from moving. So I, as a leader, think is really important for me to model those behaviors, but also bring them into conversations where they’re not necessarily needed but, again, it’s just a great opportunity for them to learn more about, “How do we do this? How do we answer these kind of questions?” And if they have questions from the meetings that they’re in but didn’t contribute to, we talk about it afterwards to say, “Okay, let’s go through what didn’t you understand? What would you like clarifying?” And just bringing back that sense of being in the room, even when we’re not in the room.

Luis:

Yeah. And I agree, it’s very important to get people to understand that it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” And it’s really hard. I’m learning that myself. I still sometimes feel that need when someone asks me something to actually have something to contribute. Which it’s just dumb because no one knows everything. Most people don’t know most of the things, we’re all very limited in our… I mean, the amount of knowledge that we can accrue over our lifetimes versus the amount of knowledge that exists to accrue, that’s just an unwinnable battle.

Richard Odufisan:

Exactly. And it’s funny. I think it is very funny that there are still leaders out there who go on the arrogant… I call them the arrogant leader. The one who has to appear to know everything. And so just gives the fear that, “If I want to be a leader, I have to be like this. I have to know everything. And if I don’t, I’m no good.” So we were talking before the podcast started about just the intelligent women I have in my life. I use them as a fantastic example because when I’m introducing myself to new members of the team and they are worried about stupid questions, I just remind them, don’t worry. I am the stupid one in my house. So stupid questions are my thing.

Luis:

That’s the place to be though. I usually tell my peers that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re doing something wrong. You’re certainly not hiring as well as you should be.

Richard Odufisan:

This is it. Keep learning.

Luis:

So yeah, that makes absolute sense. Okay. So taking the segue from the very smart women in your life, I want to take the chance to do a podcast no-no and talk a little bit about diversity and I know that it’s a no-no because I know from stats that whenever you say the D word, the audience just drops away because, let’s be frank, it’s usually a very annoying conversation. But I think we can do something fun with it and something interesting with it. I know that you also know one of my favorite people to talk about diversity, which is Sheree Atcheson. She’s been on the podcast and everyone loved it. So I started this, regular listeners know that I was as a dental surgeon and I dropped it partly because I had some people in my life that were disabled and they were really good at their jobs, but they wouldn’t get the time of day from recruiters and companies.

Luis:

And even though technically in Portugal it’s illegal to discriminate for people having a physical handicap, the reality is that if you don’t want to hire someone, you can find a reason not to hire them. That’s just the sad reality of things. So instead of fighting that, which I really believe is a losing battle, I decided to create opportunity. And that’s how I joined DistantJob to evangelize remote work. That was the origin story. I wanted to work in an industry that was providing a bit more opportunity to people that were differently abled. The people that had problems, handicaps, that just made it harder to be considered for positions. So I know that diversity is a huge part of what you do. You’re involved in a lot of initiatives promoting diversity. And I wanted to ask you, honestly, and maybe the answer will be no, and we can talk about that, but my intuition is that to move to a more remote workspace has made it easier to find diversity. I’m saying this in a very privileged position of having a company that the workforce is 70% female. So I realize that we’re still the exception. But-

Richard Odufisan:

you very, very, very, very much the exception. That is so cool.

Luis:

Yeah. But, look, I do think that being remote has something to do with it. I wanted to ask your thoughts on that.

Richard Odufisan:

So I think, I think it provides the opportunity absolutely for better diversity. But, like you said, the decisions are still within the control of those who are in hiring teams, who are in recruitment positions, who are taking the interviews because what you have is a removal of barriers to entry for a lot of people. And when we consider particularly disability and neuro diversity, what being able to work remotely does is it provides spaces that are already safe for them to work in. So they will be in their homes. They are more likely to have the provisions they need to have an effective workspace. However, there are still plenty of places that, I mean, the conversation’s happening already about people trying to drag us back into offices and bring back the old ways of working. I think, again, that comes from a big fear of change for a lot of people, a lot of companies.

Richard Odufisan:

The reason why I hesitated though is I’m always a bit wary about diversity being the primary ambition. I think diversity is a start point. Inclusion and belonging are the more important parts. I say this because a lot of companies are focused on diversity as their ambition and their goal to recruit lots of people and get more women in, get people from different socioeconomic backgrounds in, from different ethnicities in. But once they’re in, you find a culture that either requires you to fit a particular mold or you find a culture where all of your differences are hammered out of you. The diversity of thought that they brought you in to bring, they remove it by trying to make you as standard as they can.

Richard Odufisan:

Or even worse, it’s used as a reason to not progress you. You come in and you stay where you are, your career slows. I would say that diversity is important. It cannot be a soul, standing alone piece of your strategy without the inclusion, without that culture of belonging that enables people to actually make use of their unique experiences, it’s a pointless exercise. And that’s probably the only time that I would say don’t bother with diversity.

Luis:

Yeah. I want to plant the flag there and go back to that. So I’ll make a note here, but I do want to talk a bit about the geographic and distributed nature, because, I mean, let’s be frank, If I was opening a marketing department where I live and I was holding interviews, nine out of 10 people… I would’ve because it’s marketing and most marketing graduates in Portugal nowadays are female. I’d have a decent percentage of females, but nine out of 10 people would be the vaguely Latino/Caucasian/a little bit Arabic that Portuguese are. And then that would be nine out of 10 people. If I did so in Lisbon, I would probably get some people, some small percentage of people with more African roots, but still very low.

Luis:

But when I recruit from my marketing team as DistantJob, as a global company, most of my team is from South America, but I also have people from Asia, from India, I get applicants from everywhere. And that has to count for something, I think, because I was being interviewed and I don’t even remember where, and people were asking me, “How did I manage to get the 70% female radio?” And I’m like, “I really didn’t try that hard. It was fruit of the selection. The people that appeared to me, I got to pick the best. I got to pick the ones that I liked the most. And the reality is that if the majority of the people showing up are female, then the majority of the people you recruit will be female.”

Richard Odufisan:

Exactly. And a lot of it comes from creating the space where people feel like they actually can be successful. So it speaks to the culture where you are. The culture you’ve crafted at distant jobs clearly is giving people the confidence that, “This is the type of firm where I’m not just going to be a number. I’m not just sitting back and going nowhere with my career. I’m not going to be turned into a Luis clone,” for example. “This is a place that values me and the opportunities.” And where remote working benefits, particularly women across the world is the fact that a lot of the unpaid social labor, which is things like house care childcare, elder care still falls societally on women.

Richard Odufisan:

So in more typical roles, they have to make that decision between, “How far do I have to travel for work? What does that mean in terms of childcare? What does that mean in terms of the responsibilities I have” Whereas being able to work remote takes away that burden. You are closer to the things you need to be and it doesn’t impact the work you need to do. So I agree that remote working provides those opportunities and helps to act as a leveler where more traditional roles may not.

Luis:

Yeah. We have our own code name for that in DistantJob, which we call the mother load, because we found that it’s one of the most untapped recruitment slices. It’s the people who gave up their career, their physical in location career to become mothers that could be highly skilled but they just don’t want to have the commute or et cetera, et cetera. And then they can actually have both things. That’s a pretty good point. So let’s talk a bit more about culture and how to put people more at ease being their selves. I have this joke that I joke with my American friends, sometimes it gets them so worked up, but I have the good fortune of being a fair amount of distance from them. So they have to figure me.

Luis:

Which is that they talk about diversity going on in their companies. And I’m like, “Yeah, but diversity for your company really means just Americans of varying colors. I have real diversity in my company, which means a person from Ecuador, a person from Argentine, a person from Mumbai, a person from Portugal, a person from Kyiv.” I’m like, “Well, we actually think different. We don’t just look different.” So how do you promote that especially coming from… I mean, I guess that in some sense, you’re based in London, so that is European melting pot. So it makes it to some degree easier. But companies that don’t have the benefit on being in a city that just is such a melting part of culture than people, how can they create this culture that attracts this diverse talent?

Richard Odufisan:

I think you need to take a deliberate interest in your people. Like you said, diversity isn’t just about how we look different. It’s that diversity of thought, diversity of background, diversity of experience. And you want people to bring all of that to your business to help feed the growth. So if I think about, like you say, London is a really good example. But we have a huge cohort of our people that I work with in TST who are from India, who are from South Africa, have recently immigrated from Australia as well. We have people from all over the world because of our remote work hybrid model and the ability to support migration, who are able to come through and say, “This is it.” And what I like to do, what’s really important, regardless of whether it’s a business of 500 people as we are, or 5,000 people, however big you want to get, it’s understanding the backgrounds of your people.

Richard Odufisan:

And I suppose using the American example, it doesn’t matter necessarily that you’ve all come from similar places in America, but with different shades of American. “What is the difference in your heritage, your background? So when we’re talking about ethnicity, how does that impact the way you think, the way your values are built and delivered, where priorities are personally, as well as professionally? And how do you use the differences between us to fill our blind spots?” I think that’s important thing for me when it comes to building culture. It’s not so much about trying to create this blob that is really gray and basic. And you just focus on what the things are that are the same amongst us to try to connect people that way because what that creates is all the same blind spots, where things that you didn’t think about or perspectives that you don’t have get lost. By getting to know our differences, we fill in the color in the spectrum.

Richard Odufisan:

We fill in all of the different spaces where person A would say, “My experience is only here. I’ve got this 10% of reality that I know.” Person B goes, “Oh yeah, I share 5% of yours, but here’s another 5% that you didn’t have.” Person C again. And suddenly you’ve just got this huge web of experience and information and knowledge and value and interest to fill in and get people connected and thinking differently. And I think that is how you build a culture that everyone contributes to and gains from. I think those are the two parts of support. It’s not just about what you get from it. It’s not just about what we can get from you. But how do we do both? How do we give you something that you want to be a part of and help you feel like your contribution is a core part of building the culture?

Luis:

Got it. So I want to go back to a little bit of what you said in your reply about the variety of people in your team. You mentioned you have some people in India. Interesting to know how you, if in any way, how you modulate your way of communication to people that are used to different work cultures? Because what I’ve found out is that people from different countries, and especially from different continents, it’s like they’re running different OSs. It’s like switching from Windows to Linux to Ubuntu. Sure, I can take a boiler plate communication approach and speak to the people in South America, the same way I speak to the people in India. But it’s not going to be a good experience for anyone involved.

Richard Odufisan:

No, and people will receive messages differently. So I think what’s really important is we have a tool in Deloitte called our ways of working framework. My good friend, Olivia Redmond, I will give her a big shout out so that she knows she’s been called out, helped to develop this where part of it is taking the concept of The Manual of Me. So if you’ve not heard of The Manual of Me, it’s looking at the start of every engagement. So every piece of work, whether it’s a client project, whether it’s a new team internally, and it just says, “This is me. These are my strengths. These are my weaknesses. These are the best ways to communicate with me. This is how I work best. These are my responsibilities.”

Richard Odufisan:

So for example, if you do have childcare, and it means that you can’t take meetings before 9:00 or after 5:30, or specifically between 3:00 and 5:00, anything like that, and being really clear and just making open at the start to say, “Here are my red lines. There is nothing you could do to move this. Here are the things that I’m maybe a bit more free with, we can move. Here’s how I communicate best.” And when everyone understands all of those different elements of each other, it means that I know I’ve shared with you that I’m the type of person who I’m a big ideas person. I like to find the details through exploring. If you expect me to have the detail right at the start, you are widely mistaken.

Richard Odufisan:

But if I’m working with someone who is more detailed orientated, so from the messaging point, I know that I come to that session knowing what they need to know. And when I communicate it, I can tell them, “Cool. You know I don’t have all of the detail, but for the bit that you need to understand or the bit that you need to work on, here’s your information at a level that works for you without necessarily having to push myself wildly out of my comfort zone either.” But it’s the give and take again. And that person who’s receiving it knows, “Cool. You’ve given me this information. I may need more, but we’re going to find it through exploring because I know that’s how you do it.”

Richard Odufisan:

And that way everyone is speaking in their own languages to each other, but I’d call it broken English. So if I was speaking Yoruba, which is where my family are from, there’s definitely a lot of times where because my brain processes in English, but I know that some people only speak Yoruba, I’ll say the Yoruba that I know, mix in a bit of English and together we work together to find the message within it.

Luis:

Yeah. I can definitely relate to that because, I mean, my native language is European Portuguese, but then I’m married to a Brazilian woman. So there’s the Brazilian Portuguese. And then I deal so much with English on a daily basis that sometimes I remember the term in English, but I can’t translate it to Portuguese. So it’s just this weird mix of stuff.

Richard Odufisan:

It’s a beautiful mix.

Luis:

Yeah. It’s definitely the case. All right. Well time is flying by. I want to be respectful of your time. This has been a lot of fun. I want to wind down with a bit of more boiler plate questions, but please feel free to answer them in as short or long as you want. First, I want to talk about what does your virtual office look like? By virtual, I mean the stuff that lives in your computer that allows you to do your best work. When you sit down at your computer to do your work, what’s the app setup like, what do your browser tabs look like, what does it mean when Richard sits down on his computer to do his work?

Richard Odufisan:

Okay. So restarting the computer. I’ve got a few startup apps. So Google Chrome is automatic. But I am horrible for tabs. So I’ve got three windows open at the moment. One has one tab, one has two tabs, the third one has maybe 20. Then I’ve got Teams and Zoom and Skype because for some reason we have all three and different people like to use different ones. I’m not fussy. So I make sure I’m on all so people can reach me. Outlook opens up as well. That’s a default one because you’ve got to at least pretend that you’re going to get through the emails for the day. And then OneNote, OneNote is my… It’s almost the heart because I have a notebook. I’ve got a physical notebook that I use but I am terrible at marking what everything is. So I could jump from a meeting about our financial plans, to a meeting about our new communications and engagement model, to planning a trip to our Glasgow office to meet people. And it’ll all just go page to page to page, OneNote is my actual organization of all of these scribbles.

Luis:

Yeah. We were talking about not being perfect a while ago. I am fantastic at note taking, I’m terrible at note organizing.

Richard Odufisan:

Yes.

Luis:

All right. I don’t often get to do this, but I get to say pounds 100 pounds. Let’s say that you have 100 pounds to buy something for each person in your team. So 100 pounds per person. And the rule is you can’t give them the money or a cash equivalent like a gift card and you need to buy the same thing for everything. So we need to buy in bulk. Why are you going to give them? Could be anything from software to an experience to a physical thing.

Richard Odufisan:

Oh, absolutely experience because I think the reality is products, they’ll break, they’ll stop working. Team experience where we could all go out and create the memories, that’s what I’d go for.

Luis:

What’s your pick of experience?

Richard Odufisan:

I like outdoor and I like just team fun. What would I do if it’s a work thing? Because if it was personal, I’d I’d be like, “Yeah, let’s go rock wall climbing. Or let’s go bungee jumping for fun. Why not?” If it’s a team thing, why not travel out and book a space in the outdoors, but close to a city. So you can go out, you can do things like orienteering, ax throwing would be great. That would be-

Luis:

Ax throwing, that’s something new.

Richard Odufisan:

I keep seeing it and I want to do it. So if there’s a hundred pounds, let’s make it happen.

Luis:

There you go, ax growing. I enjoy that. I enjoy that team building.

Richard Odufisan:

As long as they don’t cry, I think.

Luis:

Sounds great. That’s actually a great suggestion. So what about money you’ve spent in yourself to improve your work setup or your work-life balance? Basically, what is the thing that you’ve purchased in the last six months to a year that has most improved your work situation?

Richard Odufisan:

I think it’s my whiteboard. It kind of gives that feeling of creativity. I like the creative and idea generation. And doing it at a laptop, sat down typing, don’t really get that full range of motion. I think I’m a full body creator. So I like to walk around. I like to write ideas down, work it out, and having a whiteboard helps me be a bit more full body in my work.

Luis:

Nice. That’s interesting suggestion. Okay. Let’s talk books. I don’t know if you’re a book giver, but if you are a book giver, what are the books you give the most?

Richard Odufisan:

Oh. So, I mean, we mentioned her earlier. I feel like if I didn’t call out Sheree’s book Demanding More, that is absolutely –

Luis:

I have it somewhere around here. I just moved. So many of my books are in boxes or stuff like that, but I have my copy here. We talked about the book. Man, I’m amazed at the level of craft that she put into that book.

Richard Odufisan:

She’s so good. From the time I’ve known her, the insight you get in the book is exactly the person that you get in real life. What was the other one that I’d want… ? Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed, which is a fantastic book on that diversity of thought and looking at how cross pollination of disciplines and experience is the best way for creating new ideas and growth and actually finding solutions that are innovative. Innovation comes from cross pollination of disciplines. It doesn’t make sense to just find experts in your space if you want new ideas. I think that. And a third one would be Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez. I think we spoke about the mother load, to use your terminology. That book goes into great detail about the impact of a lack of representation of women in society and how it all just comes together to impact the potential for success and development of women.

Luis:

Yeah. That true. And back to the point, there’s something about the online space that seems to get… Not that permission should be needed, but that it seems that the online space gives people more permission to apply for jobs that maybe they wouldn’t. So I’m a fan of that for sure.

Richard Odufisan:

100% percent. We need to create spaces for people to enter.

Luis:

Yeah. And the great thing about the digital world is that the space creation is infinite. You can create as much space as you like based around ideas and values rather than physical location. So that’s a definite interesting thing. Okay, so back on track, I have the final question, which is the dinner question. So let’s say that you are hosting a dinner. You are inviting people from tech companies from all over the world, real decision makers, people in impactful positions. And here’s the twist, you’re hosting the dinner in a Chinese restaurant. I hope you enjoy Chinese food. I personally love it. And as the host, you get to pick the message that comes inside the fortune cookie. So what are these people seeing when they open their fortune cookies?

Richard Odufisan:

Wow. This is a great question. So they’ve finished dinner, we’ve had a great time. And I think the message that is in fortune cookies is focus beyond what you can achieve now to what you can leave behind when you’re gone.

Luis:

Got it. That’s inspiring. Good fortune cookie. Thank you. All right.

Richard Odufisan:

That was a fun question.

Luis:

Yeah. Well, thank you. I appreciate it. That’s why I save it for last. This show doesn’t this show is a free flowing conversation. Not a lot of premade questions, but I do like to end on that one. So thank you so much for being a guest. This was an absolute pleasure. Now I do want you to tell people where can they follow up, where can they continue the conversation, how can they find you, and be a part of the projects that we have? We didn’t even yet to discuss the podcast. So please plug that.

Richard Odufisan:

Yeah. So you can find me on LinkedIn at Richard and I think in brackets it’s BabaTunde [inaudible 00:44:14] Odufisan. And I think my name will be in the show notes. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram at tftp_tunde, TFTP stands for Tales from the Plantation, which is my podcast that we do, that talk about a lot of social and political and just cultural issues from the lens of four middle class, black, British people, which you can find on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, everywhere that you find podcasts. So we’re there as well. The podcast can be followed on Twitter @plantationtales and Instagram @talesfromtheplantation.

Luis:

All right. So you will get links to all of this, as I said. Thank you so much for being a guest, Richard. It was an absolute pleasure.

Richard Odufisan:

Thank you so much for having me. This has been great.

Luis:

Yeah, same here. Ladies and gentlemen, this was the DistantJob Podcast. I was your host, Luis, in this podcast. That’s all about building and leading us on remote teams. And my guest today was Richard Odufisan, the chief of staff, tech strategy and transformation at Deloitte UK. See you next week.

Luis:

And so we close another episode of the distant job podcast. And if you enjoyed the episode, please, you can help us out by sharing it on social media. That would be great. It’s how we reach more listeners. And the more listeners we have, the more awesome guests I can get in touch and convince to participate in these conversations that are a joy to have for me. And I hope they’re a joy for you to listen to as well. You can also help a lot leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice. Reviews are surprisingly helpful in helping the podcast get to more listeners. Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to distantjob.com/blog/podcast, click on your favorite episode, any episode really, and subscribe. By subscribing, you will get a notification whenever a new episode is up and whenever we get the transcripts of the episode up, so you can actually peruse the conversations in text form.

Luis:

And, of course, if you need to find a great employee for your team, a great remote employee, you should take the whole world into consideration and not just look to hire locally, not just look to hire in your country, look around the whole world because that’s the talent pool that contains the best talent. And to help you with that, again, distantjob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who you need, and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate 40% faster than the industry standard. And with that, I bid you adieu. See you next week on the next episode of the DistantJob Podcast.

In the race for being more diverse, companies tend to forget that diversity isn’t only about belonging to a different race or background. It´s also about thinking differently and giving space to innovative ideas. And without building a sense of belonging and inclusion, diversity doesn’t have any impact on teams.

During this podcast episode, Richard Odufisan shares how remote teams can become more inclusive and insights on building a remote culture that attracts diverse talent.

Highlights:

  •  How to build effective communication processes
  • Building trust with remote teams and clients
  • Why remote teams need to be transparent
  • How remote work provides a space for diversity
  • Why inclusion and belonging are more important than diversity
  • How to create a remote culture that attracts diverse talent?

 

Book Recommendations:

 

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE so you won’t miss all of the other interesting episodes that we have coming up every Monday!

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