“Design thinking workshop” brings to mind a room full of whiteboards covered with sticky notes and people in deep discussion, coffee cups in hand. Don’t despair, it’s still possible! You look after your coffee, we’ll bring the rest – virtually.
For many of us, this sudden shift to remote work has been a massive adjustment. Among all the other challenges, the natural, easy benefits of co-located teamwork that we took for granted are no more.
But the show must go on, albeit with physical distance.
Working With A Remote Team
We’ve all had to adapt to the current situation and our working sessions are no exception. Luckily, we at ConvergentIS have been working with a geographically distributed team for a long time. So, we’re well-practiced and well-equipped to help you get the most out of remote workshops.
We run remote design thinking workshops much like our in-person workshops, where everyone’s full attention and participation are expected and encouraged. They aren’t like your typical conference calls where you can put yourself on mute and catch up on emails while you half-listen.
Instead, we strive to bring over everything that makes in-person collaboration so effective and satisfying – a clear purpose, meaningful challenges, face-to-face connections, interactivity, creativity, energy, and of course, fun.
Top Design Thinking Tools
With the proliferation of online collaboration and communication tools, there’s never been a better time for remote co-working. We use two main tools to recreate the in-person experience:
A digital whiteboard (we like Miro) – Allows us to brainstorm and collaborate in real-time. Like a real whiteboard, all participants can simultaneously write on sticky notes, draw, diagram, vote, and see what everyone else is doing. If you’ve been to one of our workshops before, you know that we rely on the Time Timer to keep the meeting moving along. Remote workshops are no exception, and Miro has a timer built-in. We also use the digital whiteboard for presenting slides, so there’s no flipping between screens.
Video conferencing (we like Zoom) – Allows us to see and hear each other. We encourage everyone to have their cameras on throughout to increase the feeling of community. Zoom also has breakout rooms feature that makes small-group work and focused discussions easy.
By interacting with each other and contributing to the same digital space, virtual collaboration becomes tangible. Those are the basics, but depending on your unique requirements, we’ve got lots of other tools in our kit.
Enlist an Expert Facilitator
If this all sounds a little daunting, don’t worry. Our expert facilitators will steer you through it!
Every session has one. Just like an in-person workshop, the facilitator’s job is to set the pace and structure to ensure your goals for the session are met. Our facilitators carefully design each exercise and frame each discussion to maximize participation and efficiency. This means that it’s always clear who is supposed to be talking, which is especially important over video calls where audio can quickly become jumbled with different voices. The facilitator also ensures everyone understands what they are supposed to be doing and how much time they have.
On top of all that, our facilitators go the extra mile for remote workshops:
Short “pre-flight” calls to make everything go smoothly – The facilitator meets with your team individually, makes sure they’re on the same page, helps them get set up with the tools, and works out any technical difficulties ahead of time. We find this makes everyone more comfortable and productive during the workshop itself.
Prepare the digital whiteboards – Starting from a blank slate can be intimidating, so we make sure the materials and instructions are already there, broken into manageable, screen-sized chunks.
Keep track of progress – It can be harder to see the big picture when you’re staring at a small screen, so the facilitator takes extra care to call out the purpose of each activity and how it tracks towards the overall goal.
Ensure no one is left behind – The facilitator keeps a close eye out for any participants who are struggling with the tech and is prepared to help out (with backup plans just in case).
Break when it’s time – We find giving regular breaks to stretch your legs and get away from the computer keeps everyone engaged and accountable during a virtual session.
A Word From Participants
Hear what remote participants in a recent design workshop had to say about the experience:
"Working through the remote workshop platform was pretty seamless. The workshop required a significant amount of collaboration and visual media so that we could do it just the same remotely, or arguably even better than in-person, is brilliant." — Mackenzie, remote workshop participant
“The pre-work on getting the tools set up and explained was great to ensure we didn’t get hung up at the outset. The pacing was overall really good. The facilitator did a great job of keeping a virtual design session engaging and enjoyable.” — Brad, remote workshop participant
Try A Remote Workshop Today
Design thinking is a flexible process. With some careful planning, effective remote collaboration is totally possible. Our methods may be slightly different, but the high quality of the results and the experience remain the same.
Give our remote workshops a try! Perhaps you’ll find that you prefer remote work.