Brainstorming from a distance: How distributed teams collaborate


99U asked Stephanie Yung, Design Director at Smart Design, and five other creative leaders how they set the scene for creative exchanges and productive collaboration in the age of remote work and distributed teams.

For many creative teams, a typical brainstorming session might mean a huddle around a whiteboard, or an impromptu back-and-forth over a coffee break. With remote work on the rise, the nature of group dynamics is changing and so must our collaboration methods. The creative leaders shared insights into keeping their teams inspired, motivated, and on the same page.

Make it social

Stephanie Yung considers that every meeting starts with a chance to set the mood and strike the right note. “One simple way to stay connected is by starting off meetings with a quick ‘How is everyone doing today?’ This thoughtful question helps relax everyone and lets us more easily move onto the topic at hand.”

Embrace familiarity to connect with your creative spark

While remote work may present obstacles for the uninitiated, it’s also a chance to see possibilities in new circumstances. With no commute, a safe, familiar space, and stretches of time alone, you could explore limits of your creativity and dig into more complex thinking that you wouldn’t otherwise have had space for in an office.

Yung echoed this sentiment in her experience conducting remote research with prototypes and stimuli through Smart Design’s human-centered design process. “It’s not the first time participants have expressed they are more comfortable having personal conversations in the comfort of their own home versus a more formal research facility. The nuance is that they are in a safer environment and feel more free to share real feelings even more than through in-home ethnographies. What we’ve learned is that even though you’re remote, you can feel closer to people in some ways.”


Read the full article on 99U.

What we’ve learned is that even though you’re remote, you can feel closer to people in some ways.

Stephanie Yung
Design Director, Smart Design

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Apr 2020