Track: Leading Distributed Teams

Location: Mountbatten, 6th flr.

Day of week: Wednesday

Remote and distributed working are increasing in popularity: not least because businesses have experienced the benefits in terms of greater productivity, less wasted time, and lower overheads.  

In one recent survey, 91% of business owners said they supported remote work, while 99% of respondents said they would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.  

But many organisations underestimate the challenges of remote, especially the challenges facing leaders. Those business benefits don't happen by magic!  

How can you make sure remote employees are fully included, event when they are in various time zones? How do you build company culture with office-based and remote employees?  

In this track, you'll learn from those who are leading remotely, effectively.

Track Host: Judy Rees

Remote Collaboration Consultant

Judy Rees works with senior leaders, operational managers, teams, coaches, and all kinds of “change professionals” to develop advanced communication skills. Her specialism is supporting highly diverse teams to connect effectively, even when members rarely (or never) meet in person. She facilitates online meetings, workshops, conferences and unconferences and teaches great-in-the-room facilitators and trainers to do their thing remotely.

As a former news journalist and media executive, she’s been working with geographically distributed teams since long before it became mainstream. She’s the co-author of the specialist bestseller Clean Language: Revealing Metaphors and Opening Minds as well as a number of ebooks and online courses, including Virtual Leadership Secrets. A former journalist and media executive, she is based in London.

10:35am - 11:25am

Tough Call: Handling “Difficult” Remote Conversations Like A Pro

All leaders have to have difficult conversations, with individuals and with groups.  Whether you’re supporting a team to have “robust discussions” to collaborate on a high-stakes problem; resolving disruptive personality clashes; or telling someone they aren’t getting a promotion the role of the leader is challenging.

And when those conversations have to happen remotely, online… there’s a whole other level of complexity. In this session you’ll learn tricks and tips that have worked for distributed-working pioneers, and find ways to apply them for yourself.

Judy Rees, Remote Collaboration Consultant

11:50am - 12:40pm

Remote Working Approaches That Worked (And Some That Didn’t)

C4 Media, the company behind InfoQ and QCon, is the second all remote company I’ve worked at, but the first one where I felt that remote working genuinely works as well as it would if the team was co-located. Drawing on these personal experiences, and also on discussions with a number of friends working remotely, I want to share some lessons I’ve learned so you can spot common pitfalls and avoid them.

We’ll look at topics including:

  • How to decide if remote working is right for you
  • Common pitfalls of remote working and mitigations you can take to avoid them
  • Specific techniques for managing remote teams
  • How C4 Media creates a shared sense of purpose with an all-remote workforce

While primarily aimed at remote workers and managers, I hope the talk will also contain helpful advice for anyone in a management/leadership role, even if you aren’t dealing with an entirely remote team. Although I think that remote working amplifies some challenges, many of these exist in non-remote environments too.

Charles Humble, Head of Editorial

1:40pm - 2:30pm

Scaling Distributed Teams Around the Globe

In this session, you'll hear about how one distributed organization (with bases in two Indian cities, and in Australia) has applied distributed systems patterns to scaling distributed teams' processes and further improved them by paying attention to human parts like trust, cultural differences, communication, and many others.  

You'll hear examples of what went right, what went wrong, and what we've learned as we've built a network of effective distributed teams across multiple countries, in multiple timezones.

Ranganathan Balashanmugam, CTO @EverestEngineering

2:55pm - 3:45pm

3 Disciplines for Leading a Distributed Agile Organization

Modern organizations are digital and distributed worldwide.  How can you lead people you may never see in your distributed organization? Your personal operating system drives your leadership and guides your organization.   While your distributed employees may rarely connect with you beyond a video screen, phone call or chat message, you can model that personal operating system that helps you and them navigate the complexities of a distributed agile organization.   In this talk, we will explore three key disciplines composing your personal operating system for leadership: manage change through experimentation, amplify communication and collaboration, and focus on principles over practices.

Mark Kilby, Distributed Coach/Mentor & Community Cultivator

4:10pm - 5:00pm

How to Be a High Performing Distributed Agile Team

Working from a distance comes with its own set of challenges. Distributed agile teams need to combat the "out of sight, out of mind" mentality and learn how to build trust in new ways. In this interactive presentation, we'll explore how digital nomads, virtual entrepreneurs, and global organizations are reaching through the screens to collaborate seamlessly at a distance. You will walk away with new ideas for what it means to be “present” at work and how to create that sense camaraderie even when you're virtual.

Lisette Sutherland, Author of Work Together Anywhere


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