Managing a Remote Design Team – feat. Just Eat
Next up, we caught up, Kevin Stone, Global Head of UX&D at Just Eat to gather his thoughts around the most effective ways of running user experience and design activities remotely. Here, our chat as part of our Ask the Expert series.
With the series on ‘Managing UX and Design Teams Remotely we wanted to share the insight of a number of industry leaders on how they’re tackling this challenge.
ADLIB: Firstly, is remote working new to the team?
Kevin Stone: No, we currently have over 40 designers, working across 4 key locations (London, Bristol, Winnipeg and Sydney).
Therefore we have always worked remotely, even when in our offices – it was simply remote from one office to another.
We are currently in the process of merging with Takeaway.com, to form one of the world’s largest meal delivery companies, which will increase the number of designers and locations in which we operate
ADLIB: In a nutshell, what character trait do you think is most important when getting the most out of UX and design projects remotely?
Kevin Stone: Both the willingness and discipline to engage fully with the task at hand. There are so many distractions available to us now, from Slack, Hangouts, email, social media, to name but a few – that being truly present in your work/workshops/meetings can be difficult. And this has an impact, both on the depth of the conversation and the final result in the work. Therefore, to have people truly be present – to listen actively and engage fully is a key trait.
And always, I like to encourage Jane McGonigal’s concept of urgent optimism for any creative endeavour.
ADLIB: If you had to pick one, what tool enables your team to work at its best when remote?
Kevin Stone: For us, Miro is essential to so much of what we do. We have used it for some time (before Covid 19) to enable us to workshop remotely and facilitate research, and that has only increased.
What really sets Miro apart from others, is the ability to have infinite sized artboards. We have individuals using it to organise their work throughout the entire creative process, to being a virtual whiteboard and post-its when running remote workshops.
ADLIB: What process, approach or methodology have you found to be most beneficial to remote working?
Kevin Stone: We have always been flexible with our approaches and methodology and so do not have a set ‘school of thought’ that we follow – but we do generally operate in the realms of lean, agile and Design Thinking.
The biggest benefits we have found, have been less about design methodologies, and more focussed on maintaining a culture that inspires creativity and psychological safety. Therefore the most beneficial changes have been to adjust our team meetings and ceremonies, to really cater for our new working arrangements. To optimise the sharing of work and ensuring that everyone in the team has a voice (and is comfortable to raise it).
ADLIB: And finally, what would your one key piece of advice be for those looking to help remote teams function to their optimum?
Kevin Stone: The best single advice I can give, is to not try and ‘solve’ your current working environment. Everyone is in a new environment, one that many teams and organisations have spent years trying to perfect, but there is no silver bullet, no one end-state.
The best advice any designer can give to themselves or to their team is to treat it like any other design process: we will try something new, we will understand how it works and adjust from there. So much of our work is based on the notion of prototype, test, repeat – and the new challenges we face should be no different.
And lastly, be kind to yourself.
My colleague Chris Firth has also written in more detail – some of the changes we have made to our ways of working.
Thanks so much for sharing!