Improving remote workshops

We’ll keep iterating so it’s as seamless for remote participants as it is for those in the room

We often have people participating in meetings and workshops remotely. There are limitations we regularly come up against because people aren’t in the same room together. Things like using post-it notes, which means not everyone can see what’s being discussed. We’ve been putting a lot of effort into making remote working better, so we decided to try out having a remote facilitator and only using online tools.

We chose a workshop we held recently about our dxw days, where we wanted to work with staff to get some suggestions on how we could improve them.

Planning, planning, and more planning

We had initially decided to have one facilitator in the room but realised that:

Israt, who regularly works remotely, got us thinking about some of the challenges of being remote when we were planning this workshop. Amy, who rarely works remotely, joined a workshop as a remote participant ahead of time to understand the challenges.

We also had some help from staff who have conducted remote research and analysis sessions and who were new starters. They gave us some insights and also helped us test and refine the online document sharing that we’d planned to do.

Ditching the post-its

The plan was to have groups of people in the room working together, and another group working remotely. We decided on an individual warm up exercise in Miro, an online whiteboard that lets people collaborate in real time. Followed by a group activity using online documents. This gave people a chance to think on their own before getting into group work.

We wanted the group to iterate the documents by “passing” them to a different group after they’d worked on their section. We would then use this shared document to discuss everyone’s ideas.

It was a lot of moving parts to consider, but it worked pretty well overall.

Some things we learned

Timings and set up:

Using Miro:

Online document passing:

Remote facilitating:

Having a remote and an in-room facilitator was a useful experiment. We plan to do more workshops like this and keep iterating the process so that it’s as seamless for the remote participants as it is for those in the room.