5 ways to incorporate design thinking into your remote work

As in-person meetings and group gatherings around the world swiftly change course to protect public health and businesses grapple with how to account for economic shifts, it is natural to shift into crisis mode. As a proven innovation technique, design thinking remains a critical tool for change management and strategic planning. While design thinking workshops are typically conducted in person, principles of the process can be applied from anywhere.  Here are five ways remote work and design thinking can complement one another to yield impactful outcomes.

  1. Empathy - A key element of design thinking is empathizing with the end-user or target audience in order to better understand their challenges. This same rings true for empathizing with other participants and their perspectives as they provide insight into the challenge at hand. Consider starting your call by asking all participants to share one word that describes how they’re feeling that morning, or how they would describe their new office setup. Insight into your participants and how they’re feeling in the moment can shape the outcomes of your session for the better.
  2. Improved focus – For most design thinking workshops, a group of people with various knowledge of the problem come together for a multi-day, in person workshop. As employees move to more remote work, shifting to a design sprint format with shorter, targeted virtual conversations can help keep the focus on the challenge at hand. With a clear agenda and fewer participants, shorter conversations can make the time you have with your experts much more effective. A small core team can summarize information and ideas, sharing back to the wider team for collective feedback and buy in.
  3. Human connection- As people around the world social distance or self-quarantine, it’s important to ensure your employees and clients continue to feel connected and valued. Schedule an online meeting with your video camera on, giving everyone the opportunity to see a friendly face and stave off any loneliness or restlessness they might be feeling.
  4. Different ways of sharing – I’m a huge proponent of the sticky note. Using a sticky note to share an idea is an easy way for people share and organize their ideas in a visual way. Using tools such as Microsoft Team’s whiteboard feature, group chats and more, people can easily share ideas where it is most comfortable for them. This ensures all employees can contribute to the discussion and all ideas are recorded for future reference.
  5. Ideation and testing – Being outside of an office environment almost guarantees your employees will have drastically different surroundings as they generate ideas, leading to new and novel solutions. Now more than ever, it is important to test these ideas, which can be done virtually. Give your manager or client a call to discuss new ideas with them, screen-share with your team to get feedback on prototypes and take advantage of our changing work environment to get in the habit of asking for feedback constantly and consistently.

Working remotely does not require working alone. Using these core principles of design thinking can help keep everyone connected as we navigate a changing business environment together.

Mary John

Customer Experience Strategy Consultant 1 718 397 6910 Ask me a question
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