Running Remote 2019 Recap: Decentralized, Distributed Workforces of the Future

the people behind Running Remote

This is a very short recap of the Running Remote conference that happened in the last days of June in Bali.

A very short one for a few reasons: firstly, I was not physically present at the event, secondly, there was very little time for me to familiarize myself with the people and the event before it actually started. Nevertheless, I gathered some of the greatest images from the conference, spent hours reading the event’s Twist channel, interviewed a few people, and combined all of it in this article, which is my humble attempt at sharing what I learned. I’ll braid my writing with lots of pictures because they speak a thousand words anyway, right?

First of all, let me say a few words about the conference. Running Remote is the world’s largest remote work event that’s been around for a couple of years already; and this time, gathered as many as 400 attendees from 35 countries.

Among those 28 speakers who debated, talked, and presented at the event, were Zack Onisko, the CEO of Dribbble, Amir Salihefendic, the Founder and CEO of Doist, Marcie Murray, the Director of Support at Shopify, Andrew Warner, the Founder of Mixergy, and many more! If the abovementioned list of people doesn’t ring a bell, then, perhaps, you’re above 60, which is highly unlikely (just kidding). Anyway, the lineup of speakers was truly impressive.

Everyone more or less understands that Bali is a special place. What comes to your mind when you think of Bali? A frameless scenery of a sandy beach, clear blue sky, barefoot dancers, or all three? Without going much into descriptive details, let’s just settle with Bali being an ideal place for conferences: a warming breeze, flaming sun, ocean of various cyan shades, verdant hues of blossoming trees — all of these galvanize the need for interaction and communication — perfect for networking! So this year’s Running Remote venue totally made perfect sense.

sunrise in Bali, in case you wonder how it looks

The conference started with networking in the heavenly beautiful garden and then an opening ceremony with Balinese girls dancing in authentic costumes the color of gold and burgundy. There was a welcoming note from Tammy Bjelland from Workplaceless, thanks to whom, all attendees received their learning plans for the event, which neatly broke down every talk into several sections, including a place for jotting down your own takeaways from presentations. (Something to keep in mind, in case you plan to organize conferences in the future, a learning plan is a fantastic idea.)

Balinese girls

After an opening talk from Liam Martin from Time Doctor, the stage was taken by storm by Andreas Klinger, previously the CTO of Product Hunt and currently the Head of Remote HR at AngelList, who talked about building, managing, and scaling engineering teams.

There were a couple of workshops, afterward: the first one on finance by Edmund Lowell from Flagtheory, the second one on hiring internationally and avoiding governmental bureaucracy while still complying with local regulations by Tim Burgess and Duncan Macintosh.

Marcie Murray from Shopify talked about her practical experience of building a distributed team and shared a few important lessons on tapping into a global talent pool.

Marcie on stage

Andrew Warner smiling at something funny, obviously

Several people I talked to and interviewed were especially impressed by the presentation given by Ilyas Vali, the CEO and Founder of rLoop, the company in charge of the HyperLoop. Ilyas talked beautifully on how he integrated remote work into such a gigantic and ambitious project. As always with break-through technology, everyone was amazed by the rWing personal flying device simulation on screen, which Ilyas showcased during his presentation.

Ilyas talks future

The second day started with Ken Weary, the VP of Operations at Hotjar, who talked about his decision of going remote first and gave advice on how to tackle common bottlenecks associated with remote employment.

Ken Weary rocking on stage

Zack Onisko from Dribbble talked about how he managed a community with tens of millions with a remote team of under fifty people. Zack is the person who broke the Silicon Valley rules by starting off without venture capital and using a fully remote team to build a super successful business that everyone’s in web development has heard of.

Zack Onisko and his three principles: We have three principles 1) Stay Connected 2) Do Great Work 3) Have Fun.

The second day was also especially memorable due to Jonathan Ranzio being its mastermind. Jonathan is the CMO of Trainual, the company he co-founded with his brother. Being an adventure athlete, motivational speaker, and a philanthropist, he had a lot to share about his own experience of growing a hybrid team and infusing it into their process documentation and methodology that could be readily used to maintain and scale any other hybrid team.

documentation and methodology are keys to successful remote work management, according to Jonathan Ranzio

Amir Salihefendic from Doist and Nick Francis from Help Scout held a closing discussion debating asynchronous and synchronous communication and conferring their different approaches to building their equally successful remote teams.

Nick discussing the approaches to building remote business

It’s worth closing this little recap with a quote from Zack Onisko, who, during his presentation, said:

“Most people want the possibility to work wherever they want. Allowing them to do so is powerful.”

Remote work should be one of those few indispensable rights bestowed upon humans at the time of birth. We should probably have more events like this to spread the power and flexibility of remote employment and popularize its benefits en masse.

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