27 Jun How to Run Design Sprints Remotely
Design Sprints are a popular way to test and prototype ideas with a cross-functional team in just 4-5 days.
But what if your team is spread out across the globe?
Or what if some members are unable to travel?
That’s where Remote Design Sprints come in.
How to run Design Sprints remotely
As the world slowly recovers from the global pandemic, the structure and mode of working of various businesses have changed drastically.
Yet, the need to remain innovative and be on top of our game is as important as ever.
Businesses are now leaning towards more remote work, which is gradually becoming the new normal.
A Remote Design Sprint is just a Design Sprint carried out virtually.
And the best thing is, all team members do not have to be physically in the same place.
So if you’re thinking of how to run a Design Sprint without having to worry about assembling the entire team together in the same place, a Remote Design Sprint might be just what you need.
If you are not familiar with what Design Sprints are, please read our dedicated article: The Design Sprint Process 2.0.
When done correctly, Remote Design Sprints can be an incredibly powerful tool for developing new ideas and products.
However, Remote Design Sprints do not work exactly the same way as physical Design Sprint exercises do.
As such, they must be approached in a different manner.
But with proper guidance and preparation, and the right tools in place, you can run a Remote Design Sprint that would be just as effective as one conducted in person.
Not sure if a Design Sprint is what your business needs?
Check out my blog post about signs that show you need to adopt Design Sprints for your business.
Read on to find out how you can successfully run your next remote Design Sprint.
Advantages of running a remote Design Sprint
1 – You do not need to worry about unavailability of team members
With a Remote Design Sprint, you don’t have to worry about a team member not being able to travel down for the Sprint session.
Since the entire Sprint would be facilitated online, it eliminates the problem of physical availability.
This also makes it easier to have people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to be a part of the in-person Design Sprint session on board.
2 – It is easier and faster to organize
When you decide to hold a remote Design Sprint, the preparation is not as tasking and demanding as it would be, with a physical Sprint.
You would just have to fix the right schedule and set up a few other things in place, without worrying about the modalities that come with running a Design Sprint.
3 – You don’t have to worry about securing a workshop space
To carry out a Design Sprint, a lot of things have to be arranged and put in place.
One of these is finding a suitable location to hold the Design Sprint.
This might be a difficult task since you would want to find a room that’s just perfect and also spacious enough.
However, you do not have to think of looking for and setting up a physical space to hold the workshop, since everything would be held online.
4 – It saves cost
In a physical Design Sprint, a lot of materials and tools have to be made available for the members; whiteboards, sticky notes, writing materials, paper, etc.
Travel, accommodation, and feeding costs also need to be taken care of, for team members who would have to travel down.
You don’t have to spend on any of these if you decide to run a remote Sprint because there would be no physical gathering.
The members just need to have their devices ready.
5 – Sessions are faster, more focused, and easier to hold
Lots of distractions could spring up when running an in-person Design Sprint, and it is not particularly easy to follow the schedule strictly.
In a remote Design Sprint, distractions are reduced, and every team member gets to focus on the Sprint.
Likewise, the entire session is virtual, so you won’t have to wait for a team member to catch up with writing or other things.
This makes it easier to get work done faster and achieve more in less time than in an in-person Sprint.
Challenges of running a remote Design Sprint
Although a Remote Design Sprint has quite a number of advantages, it is not without its challenges.
1 – Differences in time zones
Since the team members are in different places all over the world, their time zones would differ.
This makes it difficult to fix an appropriate time that would be favorable for all team members.
Also, all team members might not be available at the same time, and this could pose a challenge.
2 – Technical Problems
During the Design Sprint session, technical issues might arise on the part of any of the members, and this could hinder the smooth flow of the session.
Some of these technical problems might include power issues, poor internet connection, or faulty microphones.
3 – Difficulty in engaging every member
When holding a Design Sprint, it is easier to carry every team member along and engage everyone.
In a remote Design Sprint, however, it becomes tougher to keep every team member engaged and focused.
It becomes very easy for a team member to be distracted by a single click on the internet, and to avoid this, you have to keep checking to see if everyone is still paying attention to the Sprint.
Tips for running an effective remote Design Sprint
To run a successful Design Sprint, a couple of things need to be paid attention to.
1 – Proper preparation
A Design Sprint facilitated in-person requires proper preparation, and so does one which is carried out remotely.
It is important that adequate preparation is made and that all necessary plans are put in place, while ensuring proper communication with the rest of the team.
The entire Sprint schedule, convenient times and modes of communication should be planned beforehand.
This would make sure that the Design Sprint session runs smoothly.
2 – Essential equipment and tools
When planning to run a remote Design Sprint, all necessary tools need to be put in place.
This also entails putting into consideration the members, and the tools they have access to.
This is really important, to make sure that no team member feels left behind.
The tools and mode of communication used need to be convenient for all team members involved.
They should be taught how to navigate the tools, and alternatives should always be made available.
3 – Carry every member along
An important factor that determines the success of your remote Design Sprint is the effort of each member.
In a virtual session, it becomes really easy to lose track at some point, and it might not be so easy to catch up.
Every member of the team must be engaged and carried along throughout the entire Sprint session, so that everyone remains on the same page, and no one is falling behind.
This ensures that everyone’s focus remains on the task at hand, everyone gives their input, and distractions are reduced to the barest minimum.
4 – Take things slow
People’s attention span is quite short, and when you can’t see them physically, it becomes even shorter.
It isn’t feasible to sit in front of a screen for ten hours, because this would wear the team members out faster than you think.
Likewise, differences in time zones is also an undermining factor.
To get the best possible results from your Remote Design Sprints, take things slow.
Include breaks at intervals, and make sure that the Sprint spans longer than regular in-person Sprints, if that’s what it takes to ensure that everyone remains committed to the task at hand, and the best results are achieved.
5 – Proper facilitation
A great facilitator is a key factor in determining the success of a Sprint.
Facilitators ensure that everyone fully understands the task at hand, and they set the pace for the Sprint.
They direct the entire Sprint session and coordinate it in a way that would guarantee maximum results.
An expert facilitator who is confident in their skills and is able to lead the team to the desired outcome is an important part of the entire Design Sprint process.
This is why an external facilitator is usually the best option.
Check out top 10 reasons you should hire an external Sprint facilitator after the click.
Design Sprints have tremendous benefits, and they are worth conducting remotely if in-person Sprints are not feasible.
Remote Design Sprints allow teams to work together more effectively by eliminating distractions and fostering open communication.
Working remotely helps to maximize our potential, regardless of physical constraints. It ensures that we get things done collectively on a global scale.
When handled and planned properly, a Remote Design Sprint is just as effective as a physical one.
With proper planning and preparation, and all the right tools in place, you’re well on your way to scaling your business with Design Sprints, even while working remotely.
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If you’d like to learn more, please head over to a more detailed article about the Design Sprint 2.0 process.