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Remote Design Research at O'Reilly Media: Interview with Stefanie Owens

Stefanie Owens leads the user research practice at O'Reilly Media. Her team of talented designers manage to stay connected and creative despite being distributed across the U.S.

We interviewed Stefanie to find out how her O'Reilly team designs remotely together and what advice she has for others.

Jim Kalbach

in remote teams, user research

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Collaborating with Remote Teams in MURAL

 

Webinar Recording
 

Myth: you’re only collaborating remotely if you permanently work in a different place than the rest of your team. Not true.

Instead, we move in and out of working remotely whenever we are working with someone who is not physically with us, even when we are surrounded by other teammates.

Instant messaging with a colleague on a different floor in your building. Joining a conference call from your home office on work-at-home Fridays. Emailing a Sales Rep who’s on a business trip. These are all examples of remote work.

Remote collaboration is a prominent part of work today. In fact, 98% of people engage in remote work at least some of the time, according to our Remote Work survey. That’s a lot.

And it’s becoming more and more normal. Expected, even. As technology grows, our world gets smaller, and organizations are more and more likely set up in more than one place.

Creative teams are particularly disadvantaged by this surge in remote work. Working visually across distances is tough. As design thinking becomes vital to business success, the ability to work creatively from different locations becomes even more critical.

This is where MURAL comes in. We help teams keep their creative momentum going wherever they are.

 

GO DIGITAL FIRST

Effective remote collaboration relies on going digital first. This means rethinking your processes and interaction with others to allow work to be captured digitally. Once you do that, your results are shareable, portable, archivable and copy-able.

Example

Results of a brainstorming session captured in a mural

In this session, MURAL’s Head of Customer Success, Jim Kalbach, tells us how to collaborate with remote teams using MURAL.

And here are the slides Jim presented:

 

TOPICS

In the webinar, Jim discussed several points about effective remote collaboration. Here is a brief summary.

  • Getting ready to collaborate: Effective remote work requires forethought from everyone on the team. Don’t leave things to chance or until the last minute. Prepare to collaborate remotely and plan ahead.
  • Tools for collaboration: Remote work is mediated by technology. Many tools come together to form a “digitally defined workplace.” This includes software for conferencing, file sharing, instant messaging, project management, and of course for online visual whiteboarding.
  • Working in real time: When working in real time, consider the different modes of interaction. Each has it’s own dynamics. MURAL includes many features that help you bridge the gap in any remote context. The different archetypes we’ve found are:
  • Split Team: two teams are each co-located but separated from each other
    Mixed Team: some participants are collaborating in-person, and others are remote
    All Remote: everyone is collaborating from their own location
  • Collaborating asynchronously: Keep your momentum going in between sessions. Take advantage of being able to “follow the sun.” Uses features in MURAL like commenting and the activity feed help maintain the conversation.

In the end, work isn’t a place, it’s what’s you accomplish with others. With a dynamic and distributed work environment, effective collaboration is the new competitive advantage.

But remember: you are responsible for the perception that you take remote work seriously. Cultivate good behaviors and practice remote collaboration to produce results every time.

 


 

RESOURCES

Here are some of the references mentioned in the webinar, as well as other related links:

MURAL is committed to making remote creative collaboration work. If you’d like to learn more and or to schedule a training session with us, please contact jim@mural.co

 

Jim Kalbach

Jim Kalbach

Jim Kalbach is a noted author, speaker, and instructor in customer experience, experience design, digital transformation, and strategy.

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