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Apr 19, 2022

In this episode of the EMEA Recruitment podcast, we speak to David Burkus, bestselling author and keynote speaker on how teams can do their best work.

“It’s what you do, at a senior level, to help individual team leaders have a positive culture – that’s what’s going to matter much more.”

David tells Paul Toms about the stress experienced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, as his wife is an ER doctor. Although he was “really freaked out at first”, he feels his family has been a lot luckier than most people during this period.

Spending more time with his two sons at the start of the pandemic was an “incredible blessing”, which highlighted to David how people used to squeeze family time in around a nine-to-five job. He also realised by summer 2020 that businesses would not be going back to the office the way they did pre-pandemic. 

For David, working from home was not new; he’d worked mostly remote since 2016. However, he’d never worked from home with his two children around. He introduced new boundaries that enabled him to be completely focussed on work when he needed to work, and completely focussed on his children when he was with them.

David discusses the difference between balancers and integrators, and how integrators were much more prepared for disruptions caused by the pandemic than balancers, who had previously escaped to the office to focus.

During the pandemic – in just eight weeks – David wrote Leading from Anywhere, which explores working remotely on a team level. He saw that many leaders had become remote managers without asking for it. He is concerned that most leaders still don’t grasp the flexible/from anywhere way of working. However, he is clear that managers should work with their teams to come up with a system that works best for them. 

We find out two key activities that leaders can introduce to come together and create bonds within their teams, which David believes is still possible in a virtual world. 

For David, he’s back to working on the project that he was researching before the pandemic, but now with a renewed focus. 

We end the episode by finding out the key people David has around him, which he calls his “board of advisors”, including some of our previous podcast guests, Daniel Pink, Roger Martin and Whitney Johnson. He also has a charming, yet unusual, answer for his favourite motivational quote.


If you’re looking for a particular part of the episode, use the timestamps below:

01:33: How David dealt with COVID-19
04:47: Spending more time with the people you love
07:24: Setting boundaries when WFH
10:03: The difference between balancers and integrators
13:24: The last thing that made David smile
16:05: Writing a book in 8 weeks
25:20: Retaining top talent in a hybrid world
32:30: Frank Van Massenhove’s approach
34:22: 2 key activities leaders can do to bond teams
42:29: What’s in the pipeline for David?
48:47: The people on David’s board of advisors
53:00: David’s favourite motivational quote
56:19: How to reach out to David

You can find out more about David and his work at 


We’re proud to support international medical charity Operation Smile through the EMEA Recruitment podcast. Please help us raise vital funds and awareness for this cause at


The EMEA Recruitment podcast is hosted by Paul Toms, our Founder, and Rose Jinks, Senior Marketing Executive. 

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