Why Remote Workshops Don't Work!

During the pandemic many agencies have started offering virtual workshops (e.g. the virtual Design Sprints). The authors of the best seller "Sprint" book have even posted a "Remote Design Sprint Guide". It is perfectly understandable that these agencies are looking for business continuity. These virtual workshops however, go completely against the key principles which these facilitators had been preaching and which made the Design Sprint a success in the first place.

We still stand by the following key ideas of successful innovation workshops which are lost in a virtual environment:


Having a entire team together in the same room, fully focussed on a single task. As Simon Sinek said: "Brainstorming sessions or anything to do with ideas are impossible to do virtually". Discussions and interruptions in a virtual setup follow a completely different set of rules. Workshops are often too where new connections, new relationships are established. This trust building happens before, after or during breaks and virtually this just doesn't happen the same way.

No Distractions

A strict rule of absolutely no devices to maintain a strong focus (See "No laptops, phones, or iPads allowed. If you need your device, leave the room or wait for a break." - p. 41 Design Sprint book.). Virtual workshops lack the visual, peer pressure to refrain from quickly read an email, reply to a message, check the news etc.

Remote work does work

Whilst we are no fans of virtual innovation workshops, we do acknowledge that many activities, especially software development, can be perfectly done remotely. There are many examples of teams which are very efficient in a remote environment.

Even for remote teams we believe that regular in-person social events are needed to build social connections. These events, should be fun events with a key focus on getting to know each other on a social level.

Team members who have met each other at such social events have established a bond, a level of trust. Having such connections makes communication and collaboration virtually much easier.

We are looking forward to facilitate real innovation workshops again!


Remote Design Sprint Guide: https://www.thesprintbook.com/articles/remote-design-sprint-guide

Simon Sinek on Remote Work: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/simon-sinek_the-future-of-remote-work-activity-6790127127728537600-wAWL