Well, what could we say. We have officially completed the first two weeks wisely separated and far from our customers at least in terms of physical space.
We deal with service design and digital consultancy and firmly believe that good products and services are born in a way which is closely knitted with the customers during real life workshops and conversations and empathize with them in real life situations.
So once we have realized that COVID-19 sends us into quarantine and home office we had 3 unquestionable to dos on our list.
- Let’s find the best possible solution to facilitate workshops online
- We need a stunning and reliable video conferencing solution
- Let’s rethink the way we work on daily basis
We started our self isolation with a sunny Friday as official day №1 in quarantine. This day was wholly spent with best practice research and comparing available systems (functions, availability, pricing, facilitation tools, etc) therefore on Monday we could kick off with a quick presentation among each other to choose the best scenario for us.
Formerly we had used Conceptboard for quick review and commenting on documents but we were fully aware of the limitations. The solutions we checked as upgrade possibilities were Miro and Mural mostly and at the end we voted to Miro. I have to admit that we had had a difficult decision to cope with in case of Miro and Mural but at the end we went for the one with reasonable pricing and monthly fees. We didn’t want to commit to a tool for a whole year without experiencing how the current situation develops and what exact side-effects it might bring.
Miro is great! We are simply amazed by the functionalities, the tools, the user experience and how intuitive it is so we all agreed to use it in the future. We quickly formed some trial internal workshops and were quite surprised about the fact that sometimes it is even faster and more understandable to work fully online despite the need of post-its, individual sessions and teamwork. We can simply set timers, go for voting sessions or visualize the ideas that we have in our minds.
Of course we are not thinking the same way, we are a team of professionals with diverse backgrounds, personalities and experiences and in this chaos happening now all around the world and the constant online work struggles can be tough. We had to get used to each other as ‘online colleagues’, indeed we are a relatively fresh team. Based on the aforementioned facts we knew also that facilitation is a key for the upcoming weeks and months.
We tested Miro from A to Z, checked tutorials, blogs and official tips for days while we started to form our very own style of working with Miro. Of course we haven’t stopped there as we believe in continuous development. I would say that by now we reached a quite confident usage level of Miro.
Miro has the capability to launch audio and video calls but we weren’t satisfied with its quality. Also we were aiming to use the best products on the market, so again, we ran a check and comparison on video conferencing tools. In the previous months we were happy with Hangouts among team members but being aware of its limitations (maximum 25 participants, etc.) we started to check solutions like Go to meeting, Skype, Jitsi, Join Me and Zoom of course.
we went for Zoom. We love it! Our answer to why we choose it is pretty easy: tons of great functions and settings. Basically we like simple and amazing solutions without offering too much and leaving us feeling overwhelmed but Zoom has found the right balance.
What we like the most is the so called “Break out Rooms” option.
We use this to create individual spaces in the online space during workshops for work but we can also form smaller teams. The host is allowed to switch among rooms, he or she can simply assign members and get them back to one common conversation. ( Showing a 1 minute long countdown message beforehand in order to warn the participants that the breakout room will close shortly) This function is very useful.
Zoom can be easily integrated to the G Suite accounts as well so launching a meeting with Zoom doesn’t take us more than a minute.
Have you ever checked all the settings that Zoom has on the list? Well, it took a while but we are proud to announce: ‘Yeah, we did it!’
There are great ones! Decision on how to start a meeting, whether to mask phone numbers, host role, driving mode in the mobile application. Do the cherry picking for your organization as well, it is totally worth to explore what Zoom can offer for your team!
Last but not least, we have to admit cool systems are nothing without remote culture and processes.
Well, you won’t get any pig in a poke. We immediately launched some elements of SCRUM — therefore we do not use SCRUM itself, just adjusting some parts till we get to our desired agile process. Who knows, we might start sprints in a few weeks as well but as the starter kit we opt for Kanban with a virtual board in Asana.
We have daily stand-ups and holding the 15 mins frame worked quite well from the beginning (clapping my hands for the team). On Mondays we usually hold a planning event but do not stick to sprints. Just would like to make sure that we plan till we can see with the set of information that we have in that particular moment and yeah, some flower-bedding for a possible full SCRUM scenario in the next months if it is needed.
Friday is for cheers and celebrations, of course we hold a quick summary DEMO! This way it is easier to cope with the changed working environment.
To sum it up, we used some elements of service design, which served well internally as well! We managed to fully change our operations and launch online processes. We are improving, finding out new ideas and supporting our customers with options and digital solutions to conquer the “COVID-19 office days”.
What else have we finished in two weeks?
- We are done with a design sprint to design an end to end online riporting system in field of banking defining plenty of metrics and KPIs, navigation ways, and more then 30 charts and visual elements
- Based on observing a previously delivered customer journey we analyzed 5 customer touchpoints that are advised to modify in order to reach higher performance and smooth customer experience.
- We have redesigned a corporate website and conducted 30+ user interviews.
Can’t wait what the future holds.
Take care, Smart Design Digital