Covid-19: How can collaboration be maintained and enhanced despite social distancing?
Surviving a pandemic, social distancing, containment, flattening the curve, FFP2 vs N95 masks ... The last few days have seen the emergence of new words and concepts that are often anxiety-provoking, but above all synonymous with change. Both in our private and professional lives. Remote working where possible has become the norm, children are at home, and new rules are being imposed on our daily lives. This global health crisis is forcing us not only to rethink the way we work, but even more so the way we collaborate. With our teams, our partners and our customers. It is essential to keep in touch, to exchange ideas and to continue to work together in good conditions. The ekino Design Team, like all the other divisions of the agency, must be inventive and reactive to compensate for this imposed distance. Here are a few tips and tricks to answer this essential question that many companies must ask themselves: How can we support business continuity, work efficiency and team mobilization in exceptional circumstances?
Adapt quickly by working differently
This is the time to innovate, to think about tricks that make life easier and take into account the reality of work: empathy, innovation and collaboration are at the heart of these devices. Beyond the right tools, it is necessary to set up a good organization for efficient remote work. It is a question of rethinking several aspects and optimizing the time spent together according to the needs of the projects and those of the company. As a digital player, ekino had already anticipated these issues, and as designers, we are used to constantly adapting our methods and tools to offer the best devices to our customers to meet their needs. Exceptional situation or not!
We've all been working remotely for a week already. In spite of this imposed distance, we have maintained the planning of our various projects by adapting our methodologies and relying on the collaborative tools on the market. Depending on the different project phases and the capabilities of our customers and employees, we are able to offer the right system to support our customers in the continuity of their business, whether in synchronous or asynchronous mode. Here are a few examples of solutions we have already implemented.
Communicating remotely: controlled project governance
Team coordination, monitoring progress, maintaining team cohesion. For remote collaborative project management, organizing multi-participant meetings with the possibility of screen sharing or audio/video recording is necessary. For a large project requiring daily task tracking, we recommend Trello. When it comes to communication, Slack is ahead of its competitors with the flexibility of creating thematic channels and integrating other tools on the market such as Google Drive and Twitter.
Our tip? Set up daily rituals for projects on dedicated channels! 🤝
"Slack allows you to reduce the volume of email, to facilitate collaborative teamwork. The real plus is also the applications that can be added: survey tools, Google Drive, Invision..." Laurène Frasca, UX Designer at ekino.
Exploring remotely: gathering information from users
Collecting insights, understanding the reality of uses
Tools that facilitate remote communication are also effective in gathering information from stakeholders and users. Commentated screen sharing is a very effective alternative to an in-situ demo session.
As far as remote field observation is concerned, logbooks prove to be a good support for translating a user's daily life and environment. Of course, some data will be missing (touch, smells, what is not shown, etc.), nevertheless these approaches allow the necessary insights to be gathered in order to frame the needs.
Our tip? Record Zoom user observation sessions to enrich your observation notes. Don't forget to ask for consent of course. 📹
"Remote user research presents constraints but also opportunities: for example, the self-administered questionnaire via surveymonkey allows for quick feedback on a large sample; Zoom videoconferencing interviews facilitate the questioning of geographically dispersed targets; and the online diary by typeform helps to collect insights over time, at different points of use, and in a way that is not intrusive for the user.” Laetitia Pouilly, User Experience Researcher at ekino.
Co-create and brainstorm remotely
Brainstorm, organize ideas remotely and visualize in real time
Remote collaborative work is also possible thanks to tools with following features:
- Real-time display of other participants' modifications
- Digitised Post-its
- Management of task progress charts coupled with powerful modeling features
- Possibility to "raise your hand" to speak
Miro and Zoom seem today to be the tools best suited to our requirements for fluidity of exchange and modelling of collective work. Moreover, we recommend combining several tools in order to run effective distance workshops. For example, during a framing workshop, Whimsical allowed us to build and modify live with our clients via the team's animation which integrated all the feedback instantly. It's best to shorten the duration of a remote workshop to one and half hours max as distance often takes more time, reflection and action. ⏰ Using Zoom's "breakout rooms" option allows you to manage group activities during remote workshops. 🙌
Our trick? Identify a unique facilitator who serves as a reference point for all participants. 🙋
"Zoom is a simple and effective tool, the quality is always good. The features are adapted to make collaborative calls as well as remote workshops. I really like the idea of breakout rooms and being able to raise your hand when you want to speak." Müge Çetinkaya, UX Designer at ekino
Designing remotely: exchanging and working together
Rapid Prototyping, Real-Time Adjustment
We use tools that facilitate the design, prototyping and especially the commentary of the models on a single medium. These tools thus have features that allow work sharing and progress monitoring by a large team. In addition, these tools allow remote user tests to be conducted for adjustment before the development phase. This translates into cost and time savings for our customers! Figma and InVision remain the most reliable and efficient tools for us.
"Ekino is a leading provider of remote collaborative tools. We conducted a meeting with Invision's "Freehand" feature. It's very useful for explaining things remotely, sharing wireframes or explanatory drawings." Merry Plaquet, Product Owner at Euler Hermes.
Our tip? After presenting the mock-ups remotely, use Invision Freehand to take into account feedback and show solutions/sketches quickly. ✍️
"InVision is a powerful digital product design platform designed for all digital designers to ensure better product design conditions, communicate and exchange feedback, manage versions and iterate through to final delivery." Nhat Minh Phan, UI Designer at ekino.*
A close-knit team despite the physical distance
In the context of such an international pandemic, remote working has become an integral part of our daily lives. But this does not prevent us from continuing to collaborate and exchange. Efficient digital communication methods enable us to maintain and strengthen the link between teams. At ekino, we are rethinking the way we work in order to integrate these new virtual practices, which will undoubtedly create new uses in the lives of our companies and our employees.
The Design team and the entire ekino Group are at your disposal to discuss and accompany you across all the measures we have put in place to ensure the continuity of your projects. And you, what are your tips? Share them with us. :)