Reframing remote research

August 27, 2020

I started a new job last week, which has me returning to many of the resources I sifted through when the pandemic first hit. For those of us with experience conducting research or facilitating co-design activities in person, there are so many things that need to change given a remote-only context.

However, it’s worth remembering that there are also a lot of things that remain the same and not all of these changes are negative.

I’m particularly drawn to resources which highlight both the constraints and the possibilities of conducting remote research or co-designing online. It warms my generally optimistic heart when I see how researchers and designers are re-framing remote design work.

Here are a few provocations I'm sitting with today:


Embedded research and embracing remote

Our philosophy is to embrace the new reality — rather than trying to conduct an ersatz of in-person research online, we welcome the new paradigm.

I almost don’t want to write anything here, because I feel like it’s just definitely worth a read. This piece is very practical but also hopeful; I keep coming back to the notion that time and space constraints have been flipped on their heads, given a remote research context.

Evolving design practice through the pandemic

Holding the space for long term thinking when our partners are in a reactive mode trying to address emerging needs, can be challenging.

Towards the beginning of the pandemic, FutureGov shared a slide deck with practical ways to transition to remote design research. And more recently, Alessandra wrote this piece about how FutureGov’s service design team is developing new ways of working through a crisis.

A webinar about co-designing remotely

But what happens when the world as we know it shifts, and designers need to now support co-creation activities with a diverse range of humans online?

This webinar, hosted by Portable, offers practical recommendations to co-designing remotely. The most useful bit, for me, is when Aishling goes through common research methods and describes ways of facilitating them online.


As Cath Richardson and Cyril Maury said:

It's still important to acknowledge what's missing when we take away the experience of our bodies together in a place.

This was originally published on my newsletter, Design With. It was archived in 2023.