Photo by Kelly Sikkema

What we’ve learned running a remote workshop

Maria Kougioumoutzi

Corona has suddenly forced us to do things differently. Some are positive, like spending more time with family. And some are less positive, like not seeing or hugging our colleagues. As a UX designer, you have to manage to facilitate efficient remote workshops. And you know what, remote work works!

Recently we held a physical one-day workshop for a client in our office in Stockholm. We managed to keep people engaged and in a good mood throughout the day. The feedback we got was that there was a nice flow. Templates for sketching concepts were highly appreciated along with arranging nice social opportunities.  

I believe that the setup and preparation was one of the reasons for people having a positive experience, but social interactions and sweet chemistry between the participants added a lot to that feeling.
  
So how do you create a successful remote workshop? 

Our colleague Sofia came up with the idea of testing both the setup and the experience of a digital workshop with Miro internally, before facilitating workshops with our clients. The theme for the workshop was “Best tips for working from home”.

Before 

We decided to have two moderators for a 1,5-hour workshop. Preparing a workshop, regardless if it´s digital or physical, requires some amount of preparation and we spent a few hours to prep the scenery.  

We created a board with the free version of Miro. Since it does not include the full functionality, we opted for Google Meets as our video channel along with Miro’s built-in text chat. 

After gathering some inspiration from other designers that had posted tips for working with Miro, we created the meeting agenda inside the board and divided the workshop into tasks. One of us moderators kept track of the timed sessions and the other one kept an eye on the Miro chat room.  

For each task, we created a separate frame to keep things organized, while each participant got a separate frame as a personal working area where they could work with the individual

During

Defining the workshop goals and setting clear workshop rules is important even in physical workshops. And it is a good idea to have that in writing available for everyone, including for people joining in late, with instructions on where to start. 

 

The moderators were always seeing both the participants on video and the board, while the participants mainly focused on the board but could always hear the voices of the video feed. Asking the participants to mute their microphones while doing tasks and using chat for questions was a good setup for us. 

We also used a “curtain” element, a rectangle that covered future exercises. It helped setting focus on the current task, and as we went along we just easily resized it to reveal the next one. 
 

 

The warm-up exercise – “draw what you would bring with you to a deserted island” – was useful for letting people explore the tools. If a brainstorming session is part of the workshop, it’s a good idea to choose a warm-up exercise that includes both brainstorming and clustering so people get used to it. Choose any theme, but a fun one boosts creativity and engagement. 

We wanted to try out brainstorm both in a group and individually, which meant first brainstorming together inside the same frame. For the next task, we generated ideas inside our frames first, and afterward moving them into our common frame. We recommend writing your sticky notes inside the individual frames and coming back to the common frame for clustering since all participants appreciated working separately. 
 
When it comes to clustering it is a good idea to set up some “Lorem ipsum” titles on the board. Participants can edit and move around when finding common themes. Also, unlock and adjust the size of the frame if needed depending on the amount and size of sticky notes or other elements.  

Time for silent voting! We used the free version of Miro, therefore the voting functionality was not available. But we just used dot voting the same way as in a physical workshop, allowing five dots for each participant.  

We realized that voting with dots took some time for people to copy and move dots around. We could have done that in advance in the individual workspaces to save time. But the main thing is that it did the trick of giving us a heatmap in the end. The integrated voting in the paid version is probably more optimal. 

Finally, we opened up for a discussion where all participants could reflect on their experience and whether the workshop had met their initial expectations. 

 

 

After 

The last task was asking the participants for their feedback, any time later during the day with a predefined column for the positive notes as well as the challenges we experienced. 

All in all, this was a fun experience and our participants felt energized and became inspired to continue learning about this tool.  

Of course, a remote workshop experience is different as everyone collaborating in one place. But when you need to get things done with a remote team, this is a great option! And as we try new things, we all learn and become better. The second time you run a digital workshop you will do it better than the first time!  

Tips to make your first remote workshop a success: 

  • Start the workshop with a short introduction to the tool, especially when participants are not designers and might not have used visual tools for drawing before. Show them around the collaboration board and teach them simple ways of working, like Ctrl+D or Alt+drag for duplicating elements.
     
  • Don’t forget to include breaks in your workshop agenda. Decide if participants are allowed to go get coffee or similar after finishing a task, or if everyone is to stay tuned all the time. 
     
  • Lock frames and information related to the tasks on the board to prevent participants from moving things around by mistake. 
     
  • Decide and communicate which channel is used for what so that you can all keep track. (And as a moderator, don’t forget to keep checking text chats during the session.) 
     
  • Save your workshop board as a template, with placeholders for agenda, rules, task frames, individual frames, etc. This way you get a flying start for your next workshop. 
     
  • Optional teambuilding tip: Ask people to personalize their boards with a pic of their favorite animal/food/movie etc. 

 

 

 

Lämna en kommentar

2 kommentarer

  • Irene Sternhagen

    Tack så mycket för råden. Jag ska notera.

  • Anton Linder

    Tack för att ni delat detta! Kommer komma till användning under vårt kandidatarbete nu när allt sker på distans. 👌