Program | 9a – 6p

Road-tested advice you can implement tomorrow, including:
* Collaborating
with remote team members
* Building trust at a distance
* Hiring, onboarding and training distant employees
* Managing across time zones
* Effective tools for video calls, group chat, brainstorming software and more
* The mechanics of productively working from home
* What virtual work means for our companies, our communities, our cities and our planet

Note: the times below are approximate and are subject to change.


Registration &

8:00–9:00 AM

Hot breakfast will be served in the Robertson Foyer.

Early Morning Talks

9:00–10:50 AM

  1. Opening Remarks
    Sarah Milstein Lean Startup Productions

      • The Three Modes of Collaboration–and What They Mean for Distributed Teams
        Teryn Rikert Steelcase
          • People on distributed teams often say, “Working remotely is great for heads-down tasks, but collaborating remotely–especially on creative work–is really hard.” You’ve probably said that yourself. So how can we improve distributed collaboration in virtual meetings? Teryn Rikert, a workplace strategist with Steelcase, will break down the different modes of collaboration, helping us understand the key behaviors, interactions and tools we can use to support them over distance.
          • Intense Remote Collaboration
            Joe Moore Pivotal Labs
            • Pair programming is a key approach to simultaneously increasing focus, improving code, boosting morale and generating team cohesion, among other benefits. But, like most methods of close collaboration, it’s predicated on the idea that two people are sitting right next to each other. Joe Moore of Pivotal Labs–a leader in pair programming–will look at how the human interaction elements of the process can be used to effectively integrate remote team members into HQ or co-located teams, and can thus be applied to many kinds of intense, virtual collaboration.
          • Alleviating The Chronic Pain Of Time Zones
            Cass Phillipps FailCon
            • One of the most common and pervasive problems we all face is working across time zones. Cass Phillips will share concrete tips for successfully scheduling, communicating and managing across time zones.
        • Group Q&A: Moderated by Heather McGough
        • Experiments in Connecting Offices Eight Time Zones Apart
          Christina Lucey Yammer
          • When Yammer established a new product group in 2013 with ten people in three different offices around the world, the team resolved not only to address potential communication problems, but to actively experiment with exciting ideas. With lessons from the bleeding edge, Christina Lucey, senior product lead, will detail what’s worked well, what hasn’t caught on and what they’ve learned about implementing new processes among far-flung offices.
          • Making Remote Workers Feel like They’re in the Same Room
            Paul Hepworth UserTesting
            • When you have a central office, remote workers can wind up feeling uninformed, disempowered and disconnected. But they absolutely don’t have to have those experiences. Paul Hepworth, VP of Engineering at UserTesting, an 87-person company with more than a dozen remote workers, will talk about the very practical things you can do to ensure that remote team members can “see” into the office and are as connected and informed as co-located workers. In addition to interpersonal processes, he’ll also talk about cheap hardware setups that make a big difference.
            • Bringing Lo-Fi to Wifi: Effective Brainstorming via Video
              William Donnell Sodium Halogen
              • Post-it Notes and whiteboards are basic office collaboration tools, supporting useful, well-established processes for group brainstorming. But when you’re not physically next to the same wall, the effectiveness of these tools crumbles. William Donnell, Founder of Sodium Halogen, an experience-design consulting firm, often works with groups of up to eight and will share the techniques he’s developed for ensuring lively, engaged virtual brainstorming.
              • Making Remote a Reality in Large, Established Organizations
                Jared Goralnick Department of Health and Human Services
                • Many of the human challenges of remote setups are the same no matter the size, age or type of organization. But large, long-established entities face particular issues in introducing and encouraging virtual-work arrangements. Jared Goralnick, Innovation Fellow at the Department of Health and Human Services, Founder & CEO at AwayFind, and as of recently, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft Lync, will discuss the key elements to focus on when encouraging distributed teamwork in an organization with thousands or even hundreds of thousands of employees who are accustomed to working onsite
                • How a Daily Meeting Can Transform a Distributed Team
                  Sieva Kozinsky StudySoup
                  • When StudySoup implemented a mandatory, daily virtual standup meeting for its team of {number}, it saw a monumental shift in both the relationships between team members and their progress on projects. CEO Sieva Kozinsky will explain how the calls are structured, how long they last, who talks, the system for taking notes and how it’s transformed the company.
                • Group Q&A: Moderated by Heather McGough

Morning Break

10:50–11:20 AM

Join us for coffee and networking in the Sponsor Hall.


11:20 AM–12:40 PM

  1. Where Is Everyone? Tools You Can Buy and Tools You Can Build for a Connected Team
    Patti Chan Intridea
    • Being part of a kickass team is one of the great benefits of distributed work. But it’s hard to keep track of things like what everyone else is working on and who’s out on vacation, let alone tackle how you can get more done together. In this talk, Patti Chan will share insights from Intridea, a 50-person, 5-year-old, 100% distributed company that uses a number of third-party apps–but has also built its own internal communications tools. She’ll explore: What’s best left to third-party products? How do you know you’ve hit a wall with third-party apps and need to build your own? How do you think about developing tools if you’re not a dev shop? How do you ensure internal buy-in for new tools?
  2. The Craft of Group Chat
    David Yee Editorially
    • Engineering teams commonly use group chat for shared communication. But it’s not limited to developers at all and can be super-useful for any team. David Yee, Co-Founder of Editorially (and author of numerous chat-bots, both useful and pointless), will talk about how his companies have used group chat and a surprising benefit to it for distributed teams.
  3. Tool Talk: Trello
    Anuj Adhiya PlanitWide
    • Anuj Adhiya will show how PlanitWide, a 3-person startup, uses Trello-rather than email–for tracking task management internally.
  4. Tool Talk:
    Kailey HowellMcBeard Media
    • Kailey Howell will show how McBeard Media, a 50-person, fully distributed creative agency uses to collaborate on content creation, including workflow, copy, graphics, layout and more.
    • Tool Talk: Popplet
      Nicholas McGill Heroik Media
      • Nicholas McGill will show how Heroik, a consulting firm, uses Popplet for collaboration among up to 25 people.
      • Group Q&A: Moderated by Melissa Tinitigan
      • Tool Talk: Dashcube
        Peter Armstrong Dashcube
        • Peter Armstrong, founder of Dashcube, will show us a new communications tool.


12:40–2:10 PM

Hot lunch buffet courtesy of Automattic. Join us in the Fisher Banquet Room.


2:10–4:10 PM

  1. Lessons from the World’s Biggest Distributed Company
    David Casali Automattic
    Lori McLeese Automattic
    • Really big companies usually have workers in offices around the globe. But Automattic, the company behind WordPress, has its workers in home offices around the globe–with no central headquarters. At more than 230 employees in 30 countries and growing fast, the company is leading the way for fully distributed teams and has lessons for us all. Davide Casali, UX Redirector, will look at the key elements Automattic uses to support remote collaboration–not just the tools, but the way teams are organized and make decisions, all of which have evolved as the company has grown. Lori McLeese, HR Lead, will talk about the unusual, in-depth process that Automattic uses to hire people and ensure they’re a fit for a fully distributed team. Their talks will be followed by a joint Q&A with attendees.
  2. Hiring and Onboarding Approaches that Work
    Frazier MillerArticulate
    • Hiring and onboarding new employees in person is among any company’s biggest challenges; doing those things remotely adds in several layers of difficulty. Frazier Miller, COO at Articulate, a 120-person, fully distributed e-learning software firm, will talk about what his company has learned in their 10 years of bringing on new employees. From screening candidates to establishing connections on a new employee’s first day, he’ll discuss specific steps you can take to ensure these critical tasks flow smoothly.
  3. Deconstructing HR for the Distributed Workforce
    Steven Yee Gravitate Training
    • Is having a distributed workforce just a matter of letting people work wherever they like?  It’s tempting to think so. In fact, once you let employees work remotely, the risks of legal employment, financial, and work-related misunderstandings amplify. Steven Yee, with more than 16 years of HR consulting and training experience, will talk about effective approaches and will provide examples of HR solutions redefined for virtual teams.
    • Group Q&A: Moderated by Heather McGough
  4. Build Culture, Establish Trust
    Cheryl Contee Fission Strategy
    • Cheryl Contee runs an established consulting firm and a new startup, both of which are fully distributed. She’ll touch on what’s different between the two and dive into processes her teams have refined over time to build culture and establish trust.
  5. Connecting Knowledge Silos, Overcoming Conflict, and Building a Healthy Organizational Culture
    Sadie Honey CivicActions
    Aaron Pava CivicActions
    • Sadie Honey and Aaron Pava will share how CivicActions, a 20-person firm, has built a culture of safety and trust, specifically addressing ways to overcome conflict avoidance and knowledge silos, both which can undermine distributed teams. They’ll provide specific techniques any team can use to deepen relationships and increase flow, along with advice for experimenting with new tools on an established team.
  6. The Key Elements of Effective Remote Communication
    Everett Harper Tetherpad
    • Distributed teams require a higher standard of communication than co-located teams. Everett Harper, who leads customer development for Tetherpad, will focus on the example of sharing customer feedback with coworkers and will show how being explicit, embedding information appropriately, and providing habitual updates allow remote workers to stay connected over important issues–even when they aren’t time-sensitive.
  7. Team Communication Tactics That Work
    China Brotsky SumOfUs
    • Many aspects of running virtual teams are deceptively self-evident: Of course you need conference calls and some kind of water-cooler interaction. But as so many of us know from inefficient team calls, awkward long-distance introductions and other common problems, the obvious needs of a distributed workforce don’t often have obvious solutions. China Brotsky, director of operations and finance for, a 20-person non-profit with team members stretching from California to Tel Aviv, will cover the particular tactics that her organization has refined for effective, satisfying communication.
    • Group Q&A: Moderated by Heather McGough
  8. The Secrets of Successfully Working from Home
    Lynne d Johnson
    Elisa Batista
    Raina Kumra Juggernaut
    Keith Fahlgren Safari Books Online
    • What happens when your “remote office” is a corner of your living room, and your colocated coworkers are a large mutt and a four-year-old human–or you have no colocated coworkers at all? This panel will explore approaches that make working from home actually work. From physical setups, to social arrangements, to personal productivity and more, this discussion will plumb topics that many of think about every day.

Afternoon Break

4:10-4:40 PM

Join us for coffee and networking in the Sponsor Hall.


4:40–6:00 PM

  1. No More Downtowns? What Does It Mean When We Work “Anywhere”?
    Laura Crescimano SITELAB urban studio
    • By nearly all measurements, remote work is growing rapidly. At the same time, leading companies are building new headquarters to bring their workers together. What do the trends of “work anywhere” and “everyone work here” have in common? And what are the implications for the places we work and live in? Urban designer Laura Crescimano will look at the trends for and questions raised by an increasingly distributed workforce.
  2. Inside a *Really* Distributed Workforce
    Lukas Biewald Crowdflower
    • We’re all familiar with the idea of remote, outsourced functions like customer service and web development. But a growing number of companies match workers around the globe with microtasks, allowing for a massively distributed workforce. With five million contributors from 208 countries, CrowdFlower is a leader in this area. Lukas Biewald, CEO, will share perspective on what it takes to work with millions of people you’ve never met.
  3. The Purpose of Purpose on a Virtual Team
    Chris Byers Formstack
    • In any workplace, people need belonging, affirmation and meaning. But organization values and employees sense of purpose are even more critical for increasingly virtual teams. Chris Byers, CEO of Formstack, a 32-person company with 11 remote workers (including Chris), will explore why purpose is so important for distributed workers and will talk about how that’s played out at Formstack.
    • Group Q&A: Moderated by Melissa Tinitigan
  4. A Conversation with Bob Sutton and Eric Ries
    Bob Sutton Stanford University
    Eric Ries The Lean Startup
    • Bob Sutton’s new book, Scaling Up Excellence, explores the challenge of building a growing organization. In this conversation with Eric Ries, we’ll look at the particular issues of scaling up on distributed teams and a range of principles that leaders can adapt for successful growth.

Official Reception

6:00–8:00 PM

Official Reception hosted by Bloomberg Beta. We know our attendees want to meet and learn from each other. Thanks to Bloomberg Beta, you have a chance to do so after the talks. Share drinks and snacks with people you’ve met during the day, and connect with people you’ve been hoping to meet.