Distributed systems are hard. Distributed systems of people are harder

As the cost of living in traditional technology hotbeds like Silicon Valley become increasingly unaffordable, companies are finding it attractive to become remote-friendly, if not outright remote-first. Notwithstanding the pushback from companies like IBM or Yahoo!, I believe this is a trend that promises to accelerate in the coming decades. Cities like Detroit, with a large concentration of talented people and a strong urban infrastructure, are well-positioned to take advantage of this trend. But how do we design companies to become high-performing, remote-first organizations of the future?

In this talk, I’ll cover Chef’s experiences with being a distributed company, with roughly 34 of the company not working at Seattle headquarters. I’ll also share some observations about trends in urban planning, including the role of smart cities, in providing a suitable fabric for highly-distributed companies to succeed. Finally, I’ll sum up with my own recommendations for designing the company of the future that can function effectively across multiple timezones, with employees spread out all across America and beyond.



Julian Dunn

Julian is a senior product manager at Chef & started his career at Chef in professional services. He has over fifteen years of systems administration & software development experience at ...