How To Optimize Remote Workshops For Enhanced Collaboration

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In the wake of the pandemic, businesses around the world have quickly adopted tools such as video conferencing technology to facilitate remote collaboration among distributed teams. Despite this technology-oriented movement, large workshops, which have traditionally depended on physical spaces, continue to be one-on-one events for many organizations.

And I understand that. meeting in person can help foster friendships and side conversations. Employees can opt out of constant Slack and email notifications to focus on the task at hand. But in my experience, one-on-one work sessions also lead to huge inefficiencies. Many partners have to dust off their suits and travel from place to place, disrupting their routines and sleeping habits. Despite efforts to bring everyone together in person, there are inevitably individuals who either live in distant markets or cannot be present in person and must gather virtually, resulting in a fragmented experience. The whiteboard installation is done on large Post-it notes, requiring someone to draw and hand-transcribe the information for digital sharing. Employees end up spending long days in conference rooms feeling exhausted and often feel obligated to attend happy hours.

Companies aiming to maintain or even improve creativity, culture and engagement must invest in alternatives that match the flexibility of the current business environment.

According to a Gallup poll, 51% of employees report being disengaged at work. The challenge lies in maintaining a strong company culture when most interactions take place through screens (source)

Advantages of virtual seminars

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While many argue that in-person workshops are more personal and interactive than remote meetings, new and innovative benefits come with distributed brainstorming technologies.

  • Productivity. The parallel team concept results in significant time savings, shorter time to produce artifacts with templated digital materials, and accelerated decision-making with digital features such as voting and timers.
  • Cost savings. Digital meetings are much more cost-effective than teams traveling to a centralized location, workspaces are set up faster, and they require less logistical coordination than in-person meetings.
  • Greater inclusion. Virtual sessions protect groupthinkcreating a fair environment where no one individual or group dominates ideas.
  • Fix documents and scales. Teams can easily share workshop documents, create standardized templates for the entire company, and integrate with existing external digital tools/workflows. Digital whiteboards preserve the “whole story” of the session and also reduce the need for repetitive notes.

Use cases

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As a management consultant, I often act as a facilitator, incorporating virtual workshops between clients in various scenarios. Here are some ways I’ve used remote workshops to improve collaboration:

  • Process mapping. Collaborated with teams to develop a new marketing process by grouping different stakeholder groups and mapping the current government customer journey from start to finish. Understanding the customer journey helped the team come up with innovative ideas for the future state.
  • Assessment of gaps. Created a structured, collaborative discovery framework to help the company identify gaps between people, processes and technology in their current operations. Recommendations to address current challenges were voted on and prioritized, creating the blueprint for future plans.
  • OKR training. Used a virtual whiteboard to organize OKR development ideas. The team identified strategic themes and prioritized the most important areas. We have created an actionable plan with defined goals and key deliverables.
  • Flashbacks. Used the agile retrospective framework, “Rose, Bud, Thorn” to summarize and reflect on a project that required cross-functional collaboration between teams. Walking away, the teams felt they had developed a culture of continuous improvement and ultimately improved morale.

Additional popular use cases include prototyping, Design Think, team building, strategic planning, project charters, and more.

Best experience

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To ensure successful virtual brainstorming sessions, consider the following best practices:

  • Choose the right tool. Choose a collaboration tool that learns quickly, requires minimal setup, and meets company security requirements (ie industry regulations, privacy, GDPR, etc.). It’s my favorite tool Muralgiven its optimized interface, flexible permissions and timer features.
  • Set the scope. Clearly define objectives, problem statements, and set guidelines for communication during the session.
  • Design: No need to reinvent the wheel. use molded frames. Think about how you want to organize and prioritize ideas as a group.
  • Choose a facilitator. Appoint a mediator to ensure an efficient and respectful environment.

In conclusion, adopting virtual workshop tools can transform remote work challenges into opportunities for enhanced collaboration, creativity and engagement in distributed teams.

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