Highlights from our Better Together Summit 2021

Collaboration has always been at the heart of the way we operate at Dropbox — and in a remote working environment brought on by the pandemic, the importance of working together has only intensified. When our engineers, product managers, and designers work closer together and share better relationships and common goals, they ultimately empower each other to do their best work and create better products.

With the announcement of Virtual First, our new workplace strategy that allows Dropboxers across the globe to work where and how best suits them, we knew we needed to adjust how we collaborate as teams. We also recognized that many Dropboxers may have felt a sense of isolation, and of Dropbox culture loss. We saw this as an opportunity to bring magical moments back to everyone’s work life and relationships through hosting the Better Together Summit.

Our Better Together Summit (BTS for short, and formerly known as JS Guild) was organized by a team of volunteers and designed to build on our collaborative skills so that we can, in turn, share this power with the world. In the past, the JS Guild Summit was a summit that focused on engineering best practices and fostered our front-end engineering culture at Dropbox.

This year’s conference, held at the end of March, was experienced from the comforts of our home desks, and focused on the best practices and frameworks we can use to release new products this year in a more effective and efficient way — with our customers at the center of everything.

We wanted content to represent the excellence we have at Dropbox, so all of our speakers were internal. The conference was a mix of longer talks, lightning talks, panels, and more, all of which followed a set of guiding principles:

  • Diversity of ideas: We wanted speakers from different areas of the company (including engineering, product management, product design, research, UX writing, QA, analytics, and product marketing management) to share their knowledge on how to better build products together.
  • Representation: We wanted to ensure we had a balanced participation of diverse speakers, and a balance of experienced and new speakers.
  • Keep it grassroots: While some of the topics may align with the broader company vision, we wanted the content to uniquely represent how things are done on the ground.

Staff engineer Jamie Riedesel gave the most viewed talk of the summit, titled “Sneakily toxic workplaces, and getting over your own trauma from them.” She said of her topic choice, “I wanted to give the talk because recognizing trauma responses is something we simply don’t do as a culture, and by raising it, I hoped to bring Dropbox to a new level.” Her slides included definitions of different types of workplaces and tips on how to identify what kind you’re working in.

Here are a few other highlights from the week:

  • We had 574 attendees over the three days of the summit.
  • On average, each talk had 100 unique viewers.
  • The most viewed panel was “Turning Multi-Product Dreams into Reality: Collaboration and Practice” with Angella Derington, Emily Lutz, and Ping Ma, moderated by Jessica Sommer and Devangi Vivrekar.

If you want to be a part of helping us work better together too, you can check out our job openings here.

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