Go Weekly Insights
Published in

Go Weekly Insights

How to run a Design Sprint online

What we learned about running remote creative workshops

With everything that’s going on in the world, we know that many find themselves in the new reality of working remotely. Collaborating together, even though we are physically apart. And to be productive while working from home, with all the distractions that come with it. Let alone workshopping and running Design Sprints.

As a small but global company, we, at Go Weekly, know what it’s like to work with remote teams. And along the way we picked up some best practices that we are more than happy to share. Get ready to accelerate innovation from home.

Comparing a regular to a remote Design Sprint

The Design Sprint is a fast and condensed way to solve digital business challenges in only five days, using design, prototyping and feedback from real customers. It is an intense effort conducted by a small team that’s usually together in the same room. Transforming this to a remote affair keeps most of its mindset while adapting the process to digital interaction between team members.

These core principles will remain the same

Some elements of the Design Sprint might change when adapting to a virtual environment. But always consider these core principles. For us, they remain the same no matter where or how we run a Design Sprint.

  • Accelerate with a time-constrained process.
  • Involve a small multi-disciplinary team.
  • “Work together alone” to avoid group think.
  • Create tangible product experiences.
  • And validate with real users.

Adapting to a virtual environment

While the core principles will remain the same, running online interactive sessions requires making some adaptations to the Design Sprint method.

  • Tailor the steps and exercises of the Sprint to match a lower online attention span.
  • Mimic interpersonal interaction in a digital environment by using state-of-the art tools.
  • Prepare and train yourself and your team to make the most out of remote workshops.
Working together in a virtual environment. With an online whiteboard and the digital meeting room.

What you’ll need for a remote Sprint

Where a regular Design Sprint relies heavily on offline tools such as post-its, whiteboards and a creative space, its digital equivalent is built around online tooling. There are three areas that are essential to running a successful remote Sprint.

📹 Seamless video conferencing with breakout rooms

Being able to see the team is vital to having a meaningful conversation. We rely on Zoom Pro for our video conferencing needs. With built-in scheduling, breakout rooms and crisp video quality. Its packed feature set and ease of use make this our preferred tool.

✏️ Interactive digital workplace for collaboration

During a regular Sprint, the team will build a collective brain using the room’s walls as its database. With Miro, we have an online equivalent. A digital whiteboard with templates, which makes for an even more efficient Sprint. Mural is a valid alternative but lacks certain features when working with temporary collaborators (such as clients).

😃 The right mindset

Design Sprints benefit from an open mind. Moving that to an online environment asks for more personal discipline, flexibility and imagination. It’s a team effort, even though you’re not together.

First-hand tips & tricks

Here are a couple of quick tips & tricks that you might consider to overcome the challenges that come with running Design Sprints remotely.

👩‍💻 Get familiar with the context

  • Organize an extra (long) kick-off with the team to get familiar with the tooling and way of working.
  • Educate the team on the difference between a standard video conference and a remote creative session, how to interact and work together online.
  • Agree on online workshop etiquette, for example: use headphones, camera on, mute yourself while listening, use hand gestures, etc.

⏰ Adapt the program

  • Schedule shorter sessions to take into account a lower online attention span and more efficient conversations.
  • While adding more breaks for participants to get time away from the screen and maintain energy levels.
  • Use virtual breakout rooms for two or three participants at a time to encourage real in-depth discussions.
  • Set up interactive templates in advance for more structured sessions and to avoid wasting valuable time.
  • Give out offline homework. For some exercises, using pen and paper is beneficial for the creative process. Always bring the results back online.

💪 Keep energy levels up

  • Don’t forget to move around. Try to avoid sitting behind the desk all day long without having any kind of (mild) exercise.
  • Have fun by adding energizers. Consider warm ups and other small exercises such as a GIF tournament or a Shape gallery.
  • Offer enough variety in exercises to keep people interested. This holds true for any workshop but is even more important behind a screen.

We’re here to help

At Go Weekly, we are Design Sprint experts. Running tailored (remote) Sprints at numerous international enterprises. Acting as a strategic partner by translating ideas into groundbreaking product concepts and validated digital prototypes.

Learn more about running a remote Design Sprint with Go Weekly and schedule a free call to get started.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Go Weekly

Go Weekly

We bring ideas to life with Strategy and Design Sprints for Enterprises. Creating digital strategies, groundbreaking product concepts and visual prototypes.