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At the end of March this year, we packed our bags, left our laptops at home (except for Zsolt who was insistent on working on PingPong) and boarded flights from two different continents to meet up in Mirissa, Sri Lanka for our sixth and most chilled out team trip. I think I echo the rest of the team when I say it’s been our favourite week together so far.

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Part of the gorgeous coastline of Mirissa that we got to call home for a week (and yes, Arnas brought his drone) 😍

So, what did we do differently?

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Hanno’s Yoga & Surf crew 🙌

Instead of planning out an agenda with lots of work-related activities, post-it filled afternoons and intense discussions like we did in previous team trips, we decided to focus on self-growth. …


We all know that team dynamics aren’t set in stone. There are good days and then there are ‘my-team-is-driving-me-mad’ days.

Letting teammates know how their behaviour is supporting or hindering each other’s work may seem less daunting to share if you’re working in the same location because you get to mention this in-person. But remote teams don’t have that luxury.

As a remotee, you have two options: you can send feedback in a message or give it during a video call. …


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At Hanno, we use remote design thinking to collaborate, ideate and strategise not just internally amongst ourselves but also with clients whom we’re working with on projects.

We’re big advocates of remote design thinking, and so it was only natural that we begin getting curious about how other remote teams and individuals use this method in their creative process and what it’s taught them about collaborating in a virtual space.

Which brings us to our very first interview with a remote design thinker. Meet Veronica Fossa, food strategist and founder of WE Factory.

Veronica and her nomadic team help businesses design whimsical food services and experiences that empower people and strive to improve well-being and happiness.


As you may have noticed, the times they are a-changin’. Our traditional ways of working are being disrupted and the latest trends show that the number of organisations embracing remote work is constantly rising, and they’re here to stay.

Let’s pause and reflect on what this means for companies in general. Should they all become entirely remote? No, for a number of reasons. First off, it really depends on what a company is focused on: some of their products and services are too difficult or impossible to create remotely (remote car manufacturing, anyone?). …


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“You’re living the dream!”

“Wow, you’re so lucky.”

“I wish I could travel around the world with my job…”

“Is Hanno hiring?”

This is what I hear from most people when I tell them that my job lets me work from anywhere (by the way, in case you’re wondering, we’re not hiring at the moment). And yes, I agree — I am extremely lucky and I keep reminding myself that being part of a team which gives me this freedom is truly rare. …


Chapter 8 of Remote Design Thinking

Design thinking is a problem-solving mindset that businesses have successfully adopted to obtain social innovation in the creative industry and beyond. As companies redesign their structures, cultures and workspaces in response to the growing number of remote workers, they may consider integrating design thinking in their practice to improve the value of their work. This study examines how design thinking can help such companies and their employees to co-create solutions with other stakeholders from anywhere in the world.

Using cloud-based platforms which replicate tangible walls and whiteboards, remote teamwork can be strengthened with visual thinking and enhanced synchronous communication.

Although the process is complex, the transition from face-to-face participation to online collaboration is achievable if virtual teams have access to the necessary information, reliable technology and adequate tools and work processes set up. Having these will enable them to collaborate with clients and their users in order to create better human-centred solutions. …


Chapter 7 of Remote Design Thinking

Based on the case study feedback, I created a structure for a 5-day sprint which outlines the different exercises and tools that virtual teams can use to apply design thinking remotely. It is particularly directed at Hanno’s team but can be adapted to other location independent teams.

Reminders

  • This is a non-linear process, so the order and the length of the exercises can be changed and rearranged based on people’s availability and time zones
  • Exercises should be done collaboratively, but the team can decide when to split up for breaks or to perform tasks individually
  • Use Skype or Google Hangouts to communicate and revert to Slack if the internet connection is affecting the quality of the video…


Chapter 6 of Remote Design Thinking

This section explores Hanno’s work practice and presents a case study used to test and validate my research questions.

6.1 Hanno

The company

The company examined in this report is Hanno, a remote UX design agency registered in the UK and operating worldwide. Hanno was founded in 2012 by Jon Lay, a former law student who began doing freelance web design jobs while still at university. As he started receiving more client projects, he began sharing his workload with Sergei, a web designer based in Russia whom he met online. …


Chapter 5 of Remote Design Thinking

The design community disagrees on a common definition for design thinking. Up until now, I have used the terms method, process, and approach when referring to design thinking. However some of the designers I spoke to referred to it as a mindset. Moritz Gekeler — current Design Strategist at SAP and former teacher of design thinking at the Hasso Plattner Institute in Potsdam — explained that:

“it’s not a workshop and it’s not a process, but it’s more
this mindset or this culture of working together.”

His view suggests that it is more than a set of steps or techniques but rather a holistic way of approaching complex problems by integrating different skills, tools and methods. …


Chapter 4 of Remote Design Thinking

Design thinking in remote teams is a new field which combines two complex methods of working. This literary review focuses on design thinking and remote work as separate topics that are merged and discussed in Chapter 5.

4.1 Design thinking

The collapse of analytical thinking

In Western societies, problem solving has been traditionally influenced by
the sciences, which support an analytical way of thinking. Over the centuries, this linear way of finding solutions has been widely accepted and adopted in our educational systems, organisations and businesses (Cassim, 2013). Henri Bergson, a prominent French philosopher, claimed that humans have a natural tendency to simplify information and when faced with new knowledge, try to associate it with similar situations by applying the principle that ‘like produces like’ (Bergson, 1944 cited in Teal, 2010). …

About

Laïla von Alvensleben

Remote Work Coach / UX Designer / Head of Culture & Collaboration @ MURAL. Spreading the 💜 for remote work and design thinking → lailavon.com

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