Remote UX workshops – a temporary trend or a new norm?

27 May 2020

Katarzyna Jezierska-Krupa

Senior Designer
Katarzyna Jezierska-Krupa
Remote UX workshops – a temporary trend or a new norm?

The remote model should be assessed from the perspective of challenges and opportunities it brings. Our experience, as well as, constantly developed and improved good practices, guide us from the first day of cooperation. Every day we prove to our clients that we can maintain the high quality of communication, and the distance separating us is not a barrier but often provides an opportunity to optimize costs. It also allows for greater involvement of all people who should participate in the design process.

Band-Aid or new powerful tool?

Remote workshops are a new trend that has emerged because of global lockdown. Hundreds of entries, podcasts, and video materials were created, in which the authors share advice on methods and tools that enable the effective introduction of remote workshops as an ad hoc solution during the isolation period.

At Mobee Dick, we don't look at remote workshops as a band-aid, but a method that, as a result of exceptional circumstances, has been popularized and will be used even after lifting restrictions, which makes us very happy.

Distance does not mean worse

Although the preparation of a remote workshop takes a bit more time and requires the use of additional tools, the benefits of such a cooperation model are worth it.

Your team acquires additional skills

When conducting remote workshops, we always try to expand participants' knowledge about good practices related to cooperation in a remote model, which they can use inside their teams. Such experience proves that remote cooperation is equally, if not more effective than a traditional workshop, and the knowledge acquired during its course is not only an important element of the implementation of a specific project but also becomes the resource of the entire organization.

Participants are more engaged

Proper online facilitation supports the involvement of shy participants, which is often difficult to achieve during offline workshops.

When participants work from a place of their choice, where nobody looks over their shoulders, nobody feels intimidated by more active participants. Thanks to additional moderation tools, e.g., giving a floor, each participant has the opportunity to share ideas.

To enable active participation for each participant, we combine individual exercises with group discussions. During individual exercises, each participant has the freedom to express their thoughts thanks to the use of digital post-it notes or a commenting function.

To keep the work of all participants synchronized, we use a visible to everyone timer tool.

The costs are lower.

We eliminate the costs associated with the digitization of documentation, travel time, and accommodation.

You gain a convenient, fully digital knowledge base.

We limit the use of raw materials, digital documentation simplifies the content search and returns to the most important insights.

After the remote workshop, the board we worked on is available to all participants in commenting mode. Because of that, we do not have to worry about sending additional workshop documentation to enable each participant to return to what we have managed to work out together.

Remote workshops in practice

Before the workshops, we will ask you for basic information about the participants and send instructions on how to register in the tools we will use. In case of any problems, we will arrange a video call during which we will help solve them.
All participants will receive information on how to prepare for the workshop – with workplace ideas and how to take care of their comfort during the workshop (e.g., headphones, drinks, and snacks).

Directly before the workshop, you can expect detailed rules and the most important information about technical support. We always have one person on board who is responsible for assisting in the case of technical problems. Participants can direct any questions to this person – our moderator will either answer them descriptively or, in the case of more complex problems, will use the screen sharing function to help solve it.

In Mobee Dick, while conducting remote workshops, we use Zoom, which allows us to see all participants at once. This increases engagement and helps participants stay focused.

A part of a board prepared for a workshop with an international retail company.

Our main workshop tool is Miro. It offers useful functions, such as a timer, voting, and presentation model. Always at the beginning of the workshop, together with all participants, we go through the available functions and discuss the previously prepared board in which we will work. We make it easy for each participant to find themselves on the board. After the introduction, we practice all the functions with participants to make everyone feels at ease while working.

Tools such as Miro or Mural, allow each participant to individually participate in creating and commenting elements in real-time on an online board. Thanks to this, everyone can work independently and see how others work.

Why workshops in general?

The workshops have been present in our daily work for a long time, we have conducted numerous kick-off workshops, for clients such as PLL LOT or Leroy Merlin, strategic, for frisco.pl, TUiR Warta, Diebold Nixdorf, and design with members of Credit Agricole, Banque Saudi Fransi, mBank, or STS.

For us, workshops are a tool to solve any communication problem and a platform for the exchange of knowledge, ideas, inspirations, and problems. They help us get to know each other and build trust, which we consider the foundation for the success of each project. Only, a well-designed and carried out workshop allows us to collect and process the data from each stakeholder involved. In just a few hours of the workshop, we can unify knowledge, define goals, and prioritize them. Moreover, often during the workshops, we generate initial solution ideas! Interactions in diverse groups, stimulate ideas generation, which would not arise while working alone, additionally, all participants complement each other's knowledge of the design requirements and constraints.

Should you be afraid of remote collaboration?

Remote workshops often require a change of attitude, opening up. They are more demanding, when it comes to organization and communication, but well planned and carried out, are often much more effective. No matter how dispersed your team is, you can equally involve all members. The workshop becomes inclusive, and its results are the effect of the work of the whole team, without any constraints.

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