We’ve all been attending dozens of online events for the past two months, but on April 23rd, there was one virtual conference that woke us up from our Zoom fatigue. Hosted by Distributed Valley, the Remote Startup Expo was the world’s first innovation conference created exclusively for the remote work industry. From around the world, startup founders and venture capitalists gathered to network with one another and reveal to the world the latest and greatest technology that will enable the future of location independent work.
A remote work advocate and Principal at Cota Capital, Joe Blair planned the event with the goal to showcase cutting edge thought leadership and tech in the remote work industry. “Since coronavirus, interest in remote work has skyrocketed. We saw this as an opportunity to promote the visionaries who have been building and innovating in this space for years.” Blair says. “We believe this remote work movement has the potential to create a new paradigm for work that is superior to both traditional office work and digital nomadism. The goal is to combine the best of both worlds, manifesting a future of work that is more productive, profitable, and fulfilling.”
And that is exactly what happened. Tool demonstrations, virtual networking, and thought leader interviews all combined to create an inspiring guest experience that revealed a clear direction for the future of telework. Each visionary brought a unique perspective and solution, but through it all, a few common threads emerged and gave us a glimpse into the future of work-from-anywhere enablement.
Workplace — We may not need to go to the office anymore, but work still needs a place. Virtual workplaces like Tandem, Graphy, Pando Health, and Threads give workers the ability to manage team information, simplify toolkits, and access office resources, assignments, and coworkers from wherever they may be working from, and from any device.
Head of Remote — Already spotted in leading companies like Hubspot and Microsoft, an executive role to manage the operations and training of virtual team members is quickly gaining popularity, and Distribute Consulting has done the dirty work of finding and vetting credible remote work experts to fill the roles.
Events – During quarantine, our entire social agenda went online – work, school, family activities, religious worship, and even entertainment. There’s only so many webinars that one can endure, so brands like Hopin, and the expo’s host, Remo, are designing more interactive ways for us to gather, regardless of location.
Leadership — Without environmental cues and nonverbal language, it can be tough for managers to anticipate the needs and engagement levels of their team members. By adopting tools like Kona and Elin, supervisors can collect these critical insights without scheduling yet another check-in call.
Asynchronous Communication – When teams are distributed, their work can’t be dependent on a location or time. Communicating in ways that aren’t real-time are critical in remote work, and tools like Loom are making it happen.
Coworking — The infamous fall of coworking giant WeWork has cleared the path for underdogs like Codi, WorkChew, Switchyards, and BeyondHQ to rise up, representing that the future of the coworking industry may require less new or dedicated real estate than originally anticipated.
Meetings — The world has fallen into a love-hate relationship with Zoom and it’s virtual meeting room competitors. Luckily, brands like Grain, Miro, Fireflies, Prezi, and Jamm are helping us wake up from our video call fatigue and collaborate with creative interactivity, stronger agenda efficiency, and reliable record keeping.
Freelancing — Gig networks are leveling up from marketplaces into dynamic, supportive communities like Contra and LifeWork that compassionately support the needs of freelancers, instead of just providing work opportunities.
Education — Businesses aren’t the only ones that had to embrace remote work overnight. Companies like Workplaceless, Parker Dewey, Acadium, Distribute Consulting, and Symba are working tirelessly to ensure that the academic and learning and development industries are prepared to close the gap between the future of education and the future of work and build the bridge to remote employment, including leadership training, instructional design, and virtual internships.
Payroll & Benefits — Human resource, expense, and compliance management in teams spread across multiple countries and time zones is a headache, to put it mildly. Brands like Remote, Mistro, RemoteTeam, Firstbase, and Deel are swooping in to save the day with single-platform solutions that simultaneously coordinate transactions in a variety of places.
Innovations like these will be critical in enabling professionals to work from anywhere, and will only continue to grow as remote work becomes part of the new normal. Andreas Klinger, keynote of the expo and founder of Remote First Capital, predicts, “Coronavirus, remote work, and rising costs in the Bay Area changed the startup game. All of a sudden, global teams get funding from top-tier venture capital investors. This trend will continue and accelerate. Global talent working on global opportunities.”
When workers are empowered to work in any location, massive socioeconomic benefits result, like diversity, environmental sustainability, and economic development. But what this event signifies is something even more impactful — innovation isn’t locked in Silicon Valley anymore. These founders were located all over the world, some even in isolated regions. What we witnessed at this event is not just the expansion of workplace, but the distribution of startup opportunities. The future of work is here, and it brought international equal accessibility with it.