At present, almost all businesses around the globe have switched to remote work to ensure the safety of their employees. It's always challenging to collaborate with teams and keep them on the same page, and it's even harder to manage everything remotely.
To be fully functional in a work-from-home environment, you'll need to get familiar with effective ways to collaborate with your team in a distributed setting. This is especially true in the world of design, which benefits tremendously from spontaneous creativity and collaborative whiteboarding.
In this post, you'll learn about the following topics:
- What are the challenges faced by teams in remote work environments?
- What are the best tools to accelerate design-focused workflows and increase a design team's productivity?
- How specifically do these tools enhance a design team's output?
- What are the larger advantages provided by these tools?
Challenges in Remote Work
The most common challenges that teams face in remote work are:
- Poor communication and collaboration
- Diminished focus and productivity
- Scheduling problems
- Complex task management
- Scattered file storage
- Complexities in tracking performance and revisions
- Difficulty streamlining project workflows
Even teams that are accustomed to remote work can fall victim to these difficulties from time to time, which is why it's important to properly account for them in your operational protocols.
Productivity Tools for Design-Focused Work
If your design team is struggling with remote work, the below tools will help get them back on track. These tools span multiple categories, such as project management, team collaboration, design libraries, file organization, and scheduling.
Let's dive into the details of each tool and understand how each can leverage your design team's full talents.
Visme is an "all-in-one tool" which is used to create visuals online. It helps designers to create and share engaging content. Visme possesses interactive built-in features as well as templates to make presentations, infographics, documents, videos, and graphics on the same platform.
It is a great tool for design teams in order to streamline their workflows. Visme keeps all visual media content organized within a single location and is useful for designers who are working simultaneously on many projects.
Asana is widely used by project managers as a collaboration and work management tool for large-scale or complex projects. Its popularity is due to its robust capacity to organize everything together in one place.
For design teams, Asana keeps everyone updated and connected via numerous functionalities, such as assigning designated tasks to team members, retaining files, and enabling communication between teammates. It simplifies team-based workflows by keeping track of all the necessary details related to a given project and reporting them to the concerned resources.
A more comprehensive alternative to Asana is Basecamp. Basecamp is a great tool to set up to-dos and schedule meetings or tasks so that design moves at a rapid pace.
Besides scheduling, it stores progress updates, stores files and documents, logs conversations between team members, and support sharing different filetypes. Gathering all of these required functionalities together in the same place makes it a reliable way of organizing multi-level work.
Slack is considered one of the best workplace communication tools, and it seems to be used almost everywhere in the business community. It integrates an intuitive user interface with both one-to-one and group communication.
Design teams can organize and collaborate with each other by setting up channels. Channels keep the conversations relevant and on point, and they include customized access control so that discussions on designated tasks are only followed by designated team member without bothering others. Besides this, it allows for sharing/uploading files with others and provides app integration features as well, to keep everything centralized within your design team.
Like Slack, Twist is another team collaboration platform to organize project content and stay connected to your entire design team. To manage conversations, Twist employs a different approach. It launches conversations in the form of threads. Threaded team chats help teammates to have a transparent discussion about topics without losing track of important messages.
Twist mainly supports asynchronous work, as it does not support the presence (i.e. online status indicator) feature. It also includes access to helpful integrations such as GitHub and Zapier to reduce overhead and provide a flexible experience for designers. Twist is a handy tool if you expect your team to collaborate more efficiently via organized conversations, far from the potential confusion of instant messaging.
InVision is an excellent go-to-tool for designers. Its built-in features empower design teams to keep their entire visual content at one place. It assists in creating design assignments and turning them into interactive prototypes. It's also very flexible, as design assets are centralized and can be iterated upon without any loss of information.
InVision possesses a feature for sharing content with clients and teammates involved in a project, which enables smooth communication between all stakeholders. It showcases user flows to provide a better experience for clients, and it efficiently collects feedback, which ensures fast prototyping. InVision provides a realistic portrayal of all design drafts and presentations to meet project requirements, saving time.
GoVisually is a visual collaboration tool for designers. It streamlines design-focused workflows by enabling your team to graphically pinpoint feedback and annotations on design assignments. It also maintains design revisions and manages design versions to keep stakeholders up-to-date. It's a user-friendly platform for simultaneous proofing and reviewing over the Internet.
Figma is all-in-one tool for design teams that has become increasingly popular in recent years. It's a great platform, as it possesses prototyping capabilities and includes vector tools that are capable of full-fledged design illustration and code generation for handoff.
Figma allows for live, real-time collaboration so that multiple team members can simultaneously make changes to a draft. This unique feature can make design-focused projects run more smoothly and avoid unnecessary delays. Figma is a good choice for those who require responsive, interactive, and rapid outputs.
Abstract is a tool that regulates versioning and workflows for design projects. Abstract works perfectly well offline and stores everything locally, which ensures that it automatically updates the version without any information loss while maintaining its log.
Abstract tracks task progress via a simple interface, making it a reliable option for project management. Most design work depends upon managing edits, getting feedback, and keeping teammates informed about updates, and Abstract takes care of all that easily.
Bugherd is considered a must-have visual tool when working in a team. Design teams use it to fill in the communication gaps between themselves and clients. It looks after bugs, issues, and iterations in an efficient fashion. It enables designers to acquire a large volume of feedback easily and to follow up on pinned digital sticky notes from clients.
Bugherd assists with all of the technical details that designers need to improve a design based on feedback. This feature helps in minimizing the frequent pings to clients for clarification. Tasks are organized in an effective way so that teammates get an idea of what’s been fixed and what still needs to be done. It also allows integration with existing tools and workflows to enhance its flexibility.
In addition to the above-mentioned productivity tools for better remote design work, there are cultural factors to consider if you want to accomplish your project's design milestones. These factors include:
- Showing appreciation for great work: Remote teams don't receive positive visual cues from in-person conversation, so it's important to explicitly praise strong efforts.
- Incentivizing high performance: It can be easy to feel detached from work when you don't physically join the team every day. Establishing material incentives for high performers can help people feel invested in the quality of their work.
- Providing constructive feedback: Just as it's important to be explicit with your praise, it's also essential that you are careful when requesting adjustments from employees. Keep feedback professional and oriented around the work rather than the people involved.
- Maintaining a culture of open dialogue: It's easier for remote employees to keep secrets from one another. Foster a transparent culture to keep people from disconnecting from each other.
- Play to your team's strengths: Every design team is different, and team members come with different styles and approaches to work. Empower them to do what they do best rather than forcing them to conform to your preferred approach.
Low productivity is an obvious risk to a project's success; similarly increased design productivity can result in astonishing outcomes. Some of its advantages are:
- It creates space for creativity
- Fosters new ideas
- Helps your team absorb different perspectives
- Provides a professional work environment where dealines are met without delays and workloads are shared
- Ensures repeated project success
Collaboration is essential to successful remote work. The above tools not only facilitate better design outcomes and higher-quality production, but also enable your team to feel closer to each other and remain invested in their work.
If you're looking for a trusted development partner to turn your team's designs into working code, Crowdbotics offers expert design-to-development implementation. Whether you're looking for one-off assistance or an ongoing partnership, get in touch with us to talk through our rapid app delivery process.