The At-Home Workplace Recap

Design Museum Mornings • March 2020

By Daliza Jimenez

Our first day of virtual Design Museum Mornings event kicked off on March 20, 2020. Participants had the pleasure of hearing from Tim May, Creative Director at XPLANE, who has over 20 years of experience solving design problems for different companies and agencies in Boston, Amsterdam, and the Pacific Northwest.

Be Present/Be Purposeful

Tim’s presentation focused on working remotely, sharing the best habits to maximize our at-home productivity for ourselves and our teams. By figuring out their communication’s architecture, organizations can determine different collaboration approaches to take whether working synchronously or asynchronously. Utilizing video conference services, such as Zoom and Skype, and working together on shared documents through Google Docs or similar collaborative platforms allow employees to remain actively engaged in their work.

When communicating through video conferencing, Tim suggested that all participants turn on their cameras to create a more inclusive and interactive atmosphere. Having all participants on video also helps prevent members from “cheating” — logging into the conference call, but perhaps being distracted by other things around them, prohibiting them from fully joining the conversation.

Meaningful Meetings

Some information can be distributed through other forms of communication, such as a phone call or an email. Tim advised on first determining whether a meeting is actually necessary to ensure every conference call is meaningful and productive. Sufficient preparation prior to remote meetings and collaborations can ease the transition to working from home for many. Leaders and participants should start and end meetings on time and require an agenda to keep everyone on track. Whether the meeting is for decision making, problem solving, brainstorming, or learning, the goals and expectations should be clearly communicated.

Remote Collaboration

Tim also emphasized how critical alignment is for distributed and colocated teams. Sharing insight on MURALa digital workspace for interactive and visual collaboration—Tim showed us how the platform can help set the stage of expectations for anyone working remotely. This digital workspace also provides opportunities for brainstorming with features like virtual sticky notes and polls that participants can interact with.

Becoming Adaptive in the “Upside Down”

Many people are making, or have already made, the transition to working from home. Working virtually brings new challenges and keeping participants engaged and energetic during remote collaborations is key to productivity. Ice breakers, daily morning check-ins, and giving individuals time to rest can play a significant role in reducing or preventing burnout. Maintaining open lines of communication and remembering that, as a community, we are all in this together can help us adapt and persevere in these uncertain times.

Special thanks to Tim May for sharing his expertise and to all of our attendees for joining!