While the rise of remote work has been decades in the making, COVID-19 has caused many of us to work from home rather suddenly. Having passed the six-month mark of COVID-19 stay-home orders in the United States, a large portion of the workforce has now experienced both the advantages and challenges of remote work.
At a time when our employees need support from employers, here are the top 15 remote work advocates and leaders. These inspirational keynote speakers have led large, entirely remote companies, written books and hosted podcasts on how to successfully go remote, helped refugees find remote work, and even practiced law remotely.
1. Laurel Farrer
Founder of Distribute Consulting & the Remote Work Association
The founder of Distribute Consulting and the Remote Work Association, Laurel Farrer is a global thought leader and renowned strategist on remote work and its successful implementation. She collaborates with the world’s leading businesses and governments to eliminate virtual worker discrimination and train company leaders in the best strategies for leading remote teams. Farrer is also a Forbes contributor, writing primarily about virtual work.
2. Darren Murph
GitLab’s Head of Remote & Author of “Living the Remote Dream”
As GitLab’s Head of Remote, Darren Murph leads remote work for the world’s largest all-remote company, with over 1,300 employees in over 60 countries. Murph, who has spent his career building remote teams and leading the transition to remote work, is also a published author with books including 2015’s “Living the Remote Dream,” 2012’s “iPad secrets,” and 2012’s “iPhone Secrets.” Murph has been featured in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, and Business Insider, and he has appeared on ABC, NBC, and PBS.
3. Tim Salau
Called “Mr. Future of Work”; Co-Founder & CEO of Guide
Known as “Mr. Future of Work,” Tim Salau is the co-founder and CEO of Guide, which helps remote teams and knowledge workers learn the skills they need to succeed in their careers. Salau is passionate about the future of work and helping employees stay connected in remote and distributed workplaces. Salau, who previously served as WeWork’s Chief Evangelist, is a prolific keynote speaker, having spoken at universities, conferences, and corporations including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, SXSW, and Microsoft.
4. Nadia Harris
Founder of remoteworkadvocate.com
Nadia Harris is the founder of remoteworkadvocate.com, which she launched in September of 2018, combining her expertise to enhance the remote work experience for both employees and companies. Prior to founding remoteworkadvocate.com, Harris worked remotely for many years and led geographically distributed teams. She is also an expert in strategic HR planning and international talent acquisition.
5. Lorraine Charles
Co-Founder & Executive Director of Na’amal
Remote work brings with it unique opportunities to help vulnerable populations, such as refugees. Lorraine Charles co-founded Na’amal, of which she serves as Executive Director, recognizing this potential. Remote work can offer a way for refugees and other vulnerable populations to find gainful employment where there might otherwise not be any due to legal issues, lack of necessary skills, or lack of available jobs. Vulnerable populations may not have the soft skills needed to succeed in remote jobs that they might meet the technical qualifications for. That’s where Na’amal comes in, filling that gap by providing training in those soft skills.
6. Wade Foster
Co-Founder & CEO of Zapier, A 100% Remote Company
The co-founder and CEO of Zapier, Wade Foster is considered a thought leader on remote work, having built a 100% remote company with over 250 employees from the ground up. Zapier is a popular workflow automation tool connecting the work apps people use every day. In a blog post, Foster stated that the main reason Zapier has always been 100% remote was that the best talent they found was located in other cities. At one point, they had five employees in three different cities in the United States, and it was working fine.
7. Tara Vasdani
Founder & Principal Lawyer of Remote Law Canada
People don’t often think of law as a profession that lends itself to remote work. Tara Vasdani, the founder and principal lawyer of Remote Law Canada, is turning that assumption on its head. In both 2018 and 2019, Vasdani was nominated for Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers, and in 2019, she was featured in Forbes. Vasdani, who has set both Canadian and international law precedents, uses legal technology and artificial intelligence to more efficiently serve clients. Although Vasdani takes on a variety of clients, she also helps businesses navigate the legal process of transitioning their workers to remote work.
8. Darren Buckner
Co-Founder & CEO of Workfrom
Having recognized the potential and opportunities of remote work early on, Darren Buckner co-founded Workfrom in 2014. Workfrom, of which Buckner serves as CEO, is a platform that helps remote and distributed workers find alternative spaces to get work done, such as coffee shops or public libraries. Buckner aims to help remote employees have a social aspect to their workday even when they don’t have a physical office to go to. Prior to founding Workfrom, Buckner had a wide array of work experience, from being a bouncer to serving as an application developer at the NFL.
9. Danny Page
Host of “Running Remote” Podcast; Former Sportscaster
If you’re looking to host a panel or moderated discussion on remote work and need an emcee, look no further than Danny Page. A former sportscaster, Page is a passionate remote work advocate and the host of the “Running Remote” podcast. He also serves as the emcee of the annual Running Remote conference. In his full-time role, he works as an Operating Partner for Enduring Ventures and COO of one of its properties, UpCounsel, which is a 100% distributed company.
10. Tammy Bjelland
Founder & CEO of Workplaceless; Expert on Remote Learning and EdTech
Tammy Bjelland is the founder and CEO of Workplaceless, a training company that teaches remote workers, leaders, and companies how to work, lead, grow, and thrive in distributed environments. Prior to founding Workplaceless in 2017, Bjelland taught Spanish, including online, at various institutions of higher learning. Bjelland believes that the same technologies that allow workers to thrive remotely can also lend themselves to educational settings, as many students and teachers have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
11. Hoyin Cheung
Serial Entrepreneur & Founder of Remo
Hoyin Cheung is a serial entrepreneur who founded Remo in 2018. Remo is a tool that provides a virtual workspace for remote and distributed teams, fostering engagement, collaboration, and connection among coworkers, much as an in-person office space would. Cheung has built three companies from zero to multi-million dollars of revenue, becoming an expert in growth marketing and product management along the way.
12. Karen Mangia
Author of “Working from Home;” VP of Customer & Market Insights at Salesforce
The VP of Customer and Market Insights at Salesforce, Karen Mangia is the author of the August 2020 book “Working from Home: Making the New Normal Work for You.” Of “Working from Home,” Arianna Huffington, co-founder of the Huffington Post, said: “This compelling book is a roadmap to learning how to thrive in a new context. Regardless of your starting point, applying these insights will help you navigate your new work-from-home world with less stress and more resilience.” If you’re looking to keep your employees connected and motivated during this period of remote work, read “Working from Home” and book Mangia to speak to your executives and employees.
13. Kaleem Clarkson
Co-Founder & COO of Blend Me, Inc.
Kaleem Clarkson is the COO of Blend Me, Inc., a consultancy that helps companies improve the experience of their remote workers. Clarkson has almost two decades of experience in operations and event planning and he has long been passionate about improving employee experience. In addition to being a prominent advocate of remote work, Clarkson is an evangelist of the free, open-source CMS platform, Drupal, currently serving as the DrupalCamp Atlanta project lead.
14. Sara Sutton
CEO & Founder of FlexJobs
Known as “the Queen of Remote Work,” Sara Sutton is the CEO and founder of FlexJobs, a website that helps people find remote employment, either part-time or full-time. The World Economic Forum named Sutton a Young Global Leader in 2014 for her work combining the employment and technology sectors. Sutton believes that remote work is truly a better way to work for both employees and employers, as well as families and the environment.
15. Greg Caplan
Founder & Former CEO of Remote Year; Serial Entrepreneur
Greg Caplan is the founder and former CEO of Remote Year, a program in which participants get to travel the world and work remotely for a year. The idea for Remote Year came to Caplan after he wanted to travel with friends who didn’t have the necessary work flexibility to do so. A serial entrepreneur, Caplan founded the fashion company oBaz prior to founding Remote Year. Caplan is currently serving as the interim CMO for Cameo.
Whether your company is looking for tips for managing your employees while they work from home due to COVID-19 or is planning to make a more permanent shift to remote work, these remote work advocates and experts can help your organization transition. Contact AAE Speakers to book one today.