It is a strange time, living with the global crisis that is the new coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing is the new normal; bars, restaurants and gymnasiums are closed; and most businesses require their staff to work from home. So how can designers, accustomed to face-to-face interactions with customers and the tactile nature of product processing, continue to conduct business as usual while working with remote teams? AD PRO consulted two founders of digital design platforms – Lee Mayer, Co-Founder and CEO of Havenly, and Shanna Tellerman, Founder and CEO of Modsy – on how they handle remote work and asked them for advice on how to designers who might be new to the WFH Game.
The number one thing to keep in mind: be sure to communicate effectively. âYou may find it helpful to over-communicate during these times and take advantage of text or email to bridge the gap between phone or video calls,â says Modsy’s Tellerman. âAlways summarize our meeting notes so clients feel heard and understand what to expect next and by when. “
âLanguage often translates differently online than in person, with no inflection or body language to back it up,â says Mayer de Havenly. âTry to be conversational – this goes beyond using a simple, occasional exclamation mark. Focus on warmth, personality, and friendly enthusiasm in your post. The goal is the same as face-to-face communication: connection.
Establish an appropriate report
If your customers are used to face-to-face conversations, try building the same rapport over email, but make sure you stay professional. âThere’s a balance between making a real connection and getting too informal,â Mayer says. âYes, feel free to be playful and sympathetic, but always remember that your client sees you as an expert. While this sounds like common sense, things like correct grammar and spelling go a long way in maintaining professionalism. “
Seeing is believing
Use video conferencing whenever possible to show clients what you are talking about. It is the best thing to do to meet in person. âVideo conferencing systems with screen sharing capabilities are really useful for connecting with teammates and clients. This allows you to share visuals and connect by seeing each other, âsays Tellerman. âChat systems like Slack help remote workers stay informed about projects. “
Mayer agrees. âWe have also found that video messaging is a great tool for communicating with customers. It allows them to put a face to a name and see a designer’s passion for their project, âshe says. âPersonal connection can develop faster with video. Plus, it’s just more fun! She also recommends Slack and says she uses Google Hangouts to stay in touch with real-time video conferences.
Pick up the phone
While talking face to face is the most effective form of communication, followed by video conferencing, talking on the phone is the second best, with email or text conversations being the last resort. âUse phone calls and video chat platforms as you would face-to-face meetings,â Tellerman urges. âIf you would normally meet, then picking up the phone is the best option these days. Likewise, Mayer emphasizes, “Never underestimate the power of a good old-fashioned phone call. If you can’t meet someone in person, try picking up the phone before turning to email.
Translate 2D and 3D imagery into reality
There is no denying that the tactile nature of design sometimes proves difficult to translate into an online experience. However, as Mayer notes, âSome retail brands do a great job providing video resources of their product to bring it to life in new and dynamic ways. It can be difficult to buy a chair or sofa without a seating test, but with a video demonstration, designers can get a better virtual idea of ââhow the room will react.