There is much (ongoing) talk about ‘the future of work’ or the ‘return to work’ and even ‘what to do with work’ given the evolving nature of the current socio-economic landscape we are living through.

And while there are also many conversations being had about how we are ‘all in the same boat’, the reality is that reality is what makes sense to you.


In a professional context, every business owner or leader needs to clarify what that reality looks like; for their business model, for their clients, for their employees.


When COVID sent us reeling back into our homes last year, I ran a series of online discussions with several leaders from all walks
of life, whether Tech, Health, Sports, Art or Business. One of those was David Darmanin. Co-founder of Hotjar – a “product
experience insights tool
” for your website. But it is more than that. It is an example of how, way before any pandemic came along, work should be a reflection of purpose rather than brick and mortar, punch clocks, hot-desks, or a four-day week.


In the conversation I had with David, he referred to their model as a distributed one, not remote. And this has got me thinking ever since.


If we recall the days where there was no internet connection, businesses still grew and expanded across countries and continents. No one referred to them as ‘remote’ locations, but merely as another branch, shop, or outlet. That would mean they are far, distanced, detached, aloof, probably a nuisance to get to.


Instead, they were viewed as new opportunities to connect with new customers, attract new talent, offer new opportunities.


So, what changed today that we use language in such a negative way?


Well, it is the fear of change to what we have become used to, our comfort zone. Anything that differs is ‘not normal’, so we use language that resonates with that ‘new’ state and the associated emotional connection.


What’s the point?


Well, the point is that given the already complex nature of our current context, language affects our emotional state, which in turn influences our behavioural patterns, affects our actions, and delivers results. If I am in a bad emotional state, then the result is going to be detrimental to me, as well as my workplace. This is going to cause additional stress which could easily result in burnout. A state where I no longer feel energised, motivated, encouraged, willing to do anything other than … well, nothing really.


Burnout is a brutal consequence of emotional overwhelm to a prevailing situation. This is not limited to work of course. The added strain of having to cater for family, pay bills, home school, care for elderly and all the rest, is no mean feat.


Leaders need to take heed!


So, why the reference to Hotjar?


Good question. The reason why I referenced the Hotjar case was that the business was not built (necessarily, I am going out on a bit of a limb here) on what we are to build, but rather on why we are building this company.

Their success was purpose driven. Their continued success is, yes, you’ve guessed, still purpose driven! This is reflected in behaviour and language, which continues to deliver great results.


That is was enables how we work.


I was recently working with another ‘digital’ firm, and we were discussing their modal shift, their new processes and I noted that they had it all wrong (I say this humbly, and purely for emphasis at this stage). They were trying to make the business fit a process, a system. When what they needed to do was ensure the system fit their purpose.


That is what Hotjar does so well.


Their purpose leads their growth, their development, their product and, most importantly their people. A further validation of this is the change in leadership at Hotjar. Co-founder and CEO (until the news broke yesterday) David, was stepping down from his role as CEO to pass on the reigns to, and I quote David directly here, “someone I feel is stronger than me in so many ways – but most importantly, someone who really represents Hotjar’s Core Values.” The language reflects the reason why Hotjar is so successful; the behaviour follows.


The lesson to ALL leaders is therefore, if you want to avoid employee, or even your own, burnout while trying to make sense of this distributed workspace, stick to your core values; your Purpose.

The way forward


Our Top 4 Assets for every leader and employee to hone and include in their business / life purpose that will help deal with, both working in a distributed manner, and burnout are the following:


#1 TRUST unreservedly

Without Trust no one will sign up to any purpose. As leaders, you need to earn the trust of those who will be joining you on the journey. Language, attitude, action are all a reflection of how you show trust. This will be rewarded by commitment, effort, and transparency.


#2 SERVE continuously

The role of a leader is not to sit pretty in a corner office with a view over the ocean. The role of a leader is to serve those who actually run the business: your people. Every business is about the people not the product or service. Without them there will be no product or service. Serve your people first, you will be rewarded with a more confident, competent, dedicated and happier business (and clients).


#3 SHARE openly

It is not unheard of that leaders do not share what is going through their minds with peers or colleagues for fear of showing incompetence or incapability. It is stigmatised as a weakness. On the contrary accepting vulnerability is a core strength every leader needs to embrace. Without accepting our weaknesses, we will never be able to remedy them or, in the case of our colleagues, empower them to take over, step in. Sharing is not just about failure though. Sharing is about transparency, openness, collaboration, and caring for each other. If we do not share, we will never know. So, be in the know.


#4 CELEBRATE loudly

In VUCA times it may seem like there really isn’t anything to celebrate about. How wrong we all are. Now is the time where we should celebrate the most. Every gain is cause for celebration. If we want to shut off our stress valves and enhance our achievement ones, then we need to celebrate, be thankful and recognise the efforts all are putting into the journey.



We wish David (and Mohannad) the very best in their new roles. May you continue to inspire many other Hotjarians across the globe.