How to Manage Your Design Team Remotely?

Written by
Dec 17,2020

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success” - Henry Ford.

Even before the Corona-crisis swept the world, there was a 159% increase in remote work from 2005 to 2017. And, due to COVID-19, the numbers have only accelerated. According to a survey, remote working is likely to triple in the post-COVID world.

With these statistics in mind, design firms must look for ways to navigate the unchartered territory instead of cribbing over the sudden shift to remote working.

Design Team


How can a collaborative practice like design work when colleagues are dispersed around the globe?

From design reviews, group sketching to usability testing, and cross-functional feedback, the entire design process requires face-to-face interaction with team members.

Shifting to a virtual team could be jarring:

  • There is no more casual conversation about the design decisions,
  • You can’t physically talk to the team members,
  • You have to send emails to hunt down the design files.

The entire process results in morale-breaking, which eventually affects the productivity of the entire team.

This makes managing a remote design team essential for a design firm.

How to Manage Your Design Team Remotely?

Managing a design team is no rocket science. It requires good communication, the right tools, good documentation, and understanding of the team members. Here are four ways that will help you deliver results and prevent you from going stir-crazy.

1. Focus on graphics and design

In the remote working world, mathematics is simple,

Good design = Good business.

As we struggle to cope with the ongoing situation, the design has never been more critical for business success. Thanks to companies like Apple, Airbnb, and Netflix, customer awareness of a good design has changed as these companies make design their top-priority. These companies understand that the odds of improving the success rate lie in their product design, website design, and more.

Attractive design helps you stand out and create a positive first impression – two pillars to attract customers.

And, with remote working seeing a surge, you can use this time to reinvigorate your website, logo, and social media design through your design team. This can all be done remotely, and you can check your website design with remote usability testing tools.

Usability Testing Tool
How usability testing tools help in managing remote design teams?

  • The tools usually have a broadcasting feature allowing team members across different time zones to watch the same test without missing out on crucial information.
  • A usability testing tool usually integrates critical tools (JIRA, Visual Studio Online, Vault, etc.) that help a design team work collaboratively.
  • It offers features that help in managing the workflow of several teams, including the design team.
  • It keeps the team members on the same page in the design discussion.
  • The tool helps keep the team focused on issues that matter and saves time by eliminating unwanted cognitive challenges.

Our recommendation: Maze.design

Maze Design

2. Streamline your design processes

Just like Rome, you cannot build a great design in a day. It can take days, weeks, months, or even years to get it right. The time between ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ design entails numerous templates, assets, documentation, processes, and creative learning. In a design team, staying smart individually doesn’t work. The entire team should be smart.

Design Process

Consider the following scenario where:

  • Sam, a newly recruited website designer, is using red color CTAs on the landing page.,
  • Jerry, an ex-website designer of the company, performed the UX testing on the red CTAs and found that customers don’t prefer clicking it.
  • UX results have shown that their target audience prefers green color CTAs.

Why was Sam repeating the same error?

He was repeating the error due to a lack of knowledge sharing by Jerry. Had Jerry shared the information with the design team, Sam could’ve saved his time and energy.

That’s why a design team needs to take a collaborative approach to knowledge management.

You need to collate all of your updates and knowledge into a knowledge base for your design team to share ideas and developments, even without in-person meetings.

Knowledge bases are tools for managing, storing, and sharing vital information. It improves the team’s experience as they find everything under one roof.

According to a report, UK office workers spend more than one million hours every week searching for misplaced documents. If you don’t want your design team to be a part of these statistics, you must use a knowledge base.

How can a knowledge base help in managing remote design teams?

  • It improves team productivity. According to a report, 42% of employees feel that quick access to information has the most.
  • It has a significant impact on their productivity.
  • All information related to the design/design process is available in a single location.
  • Allows real-time editing, which helps one team member make changes to other member’s work.
  • It arranges documents and information project-wise.
  • It can integrate with other team management apps.
  • Keeps every team member up-to-date.

Our recommendation: Slite


3. Explain marketing strategy to your design team

According to McKinsey, companies that invest in good design witnessing 32% more revenue and 56% more shareholder’s return. But investing in design is much more than logos, taglines, and colors.

Great designs are the brainchild of a great design team. It’s the design that communicates a brand and the marketing that creates a customer’s interest in a brand. It doesn’t make sense to prevent design teams from knowing the fate of the design they’ve developed.

Marketing Strategy

With remote workers feeling shunned and left out, you need to ensure no team member is left behind in the remote working environment. Share and explain your marketing strategy to your team using engaging and free presentation maker software. Create an interactive presentation entailing all the marketing strategy details to keep everyone on the same page irrespective of their location. It helps in improving team cohesion.

Our recommendation: Piktochart


4. Foster a culture of communication

Imagine your mother asking you to make pasta without telling you the kind of pasta she wants or the sauces to add to it. Yet she expects you to make a white sauce penne pasta with fewer chilies and extra cheese.

This frequently happens to a team design because clients often give little instruction or information to create a design they love.

Communication Culture

That’s why you need to foster a communication culture both internally and externally, and you can do it using communication tools. When you create a face-time or open a communication channel for the design team, you allow the designer to talk to the client or the marketing team for design specifications and changes.

Apart from keeping the customer happy, a communication tool increases the team’s collaboration and ensures higher productivity.

Our recommendation: Slack

Higher Productivity


Design is a creative process, which loses its charm in a vacuum. The same holds when managing a remote design team – it requires a collaborative effort using the right set of tools and technologies.

Confusion and isolation are the two worst feelings when working in a remote team. It breaks down the design workflow and de-motivates the entire team. While remote working offers numerous advantages like lower expenses, more flexibility, increased productivity, high retention rate, less sick days, it comes with certain pitfalls like a decreased sense of belonging, lack of communication, lower reliability, and lower accountability.

Understand the challenges faced by the remote design team to manage them effectively.

With these four tips in mind, your design team will be more than ready to face the remote working world of 2021.

Jake Stainer

Jake built his first website at the age of 11 and taught himself to program when 14 where he founded an online community for language-learners. He needed to get people using his community, so he taught himself SEO & PPC. In 2015 he joined Typeform as employee #29 and the second person in the marketing team. After optimising Typeform's viral loop, Jake spend 3 and half years scaling the SEO and PPC channels, thus building a cross-functional growth marketing team of 10 people. Recently, he co-founded Outreach Humans, which helps B2B SaaS companies seriously scale SEO.