When teams grow fast, it can be hard to keep tabs on what everyone works on from each week. As a brand designer, along with trying to catch up on what design projects my teammates have in progress, I also want to stay connected with them and our broader design cohort in an increasingly digital workplace.
As a design team of 12 (and growing! 🎉) it's getting even tougher: Weekly synchronous stand-up meetings don't scale. If each member of the entire design team gets five minutes to chat through the week’s tasks, challenges, and updates, and factor in a follow-up question or two per person, and well –– we're looking at a meeting no one is interested in attending.
One of the ways we've worked to combat the standard stand-up meeting format is through an asynchronous weekly standup with our greater brand and product design team. Every Monday, our whole design team takes time to record a brief, 1-3 minute loom video peppered with the highlights of what they’re working on that week.
Our weekly standups have shifted the way I work with my teammates for the better. These asynchronous updates can spark cross-functional curiosity, lead to more frequent, collaborative communication, and create opportunities for the wider design team to work together.
There are some Monday mornings where I'm just ready to go, and to get to work. Sitting through a synchronous stand-up meeting is going to take me out of my own flow. Instead I can record my own stand-up via Loom, which is ideal for me because I get to create content at my own pace and dig into my teammates’ content when it's best for me and my schedule. ⏰
In an ode to Animal Crossing, and to mix things up, I featured one of the characters, Tom Nook, in my weekly standup video to share details about what I am working on for the week.
Stand-up meetings are great, but they're called standups for a reason. To honor my time and my teammates’, I challenge myself to keep my updates between 1–2 minutes long. Sometimes this takes me a few tries to get the length just right, but as a result my looms are a lower time investment and chill to watch yet I know people are getting the most important information out of it without any filler.
While preparing to launch Loom for Teams, Desiree Garcia, a Senior Product Designer at Loom, saw in my standup that I was working on the pricing page for our marketing site. Desiree saw an opportunity to collaborate and reached out to see if there were ways we could align the work she was doing on the purchase experience inside the product.
This is the weekly standup loom I created that Desiree watched and that inspired her to reach out to me to collaborate and align
We realized the visual experiences were similar, but that there were a few gaps in-between the way we structured our pages. We needed to find some points to meet in the middle.
Working remotely can feel siloed at times. Because of my standup video, Desiree had insight into my current projects, and extended a welcome opportunity to connect on ways our work overlapped and where we could join forces to achieve the best possible outcome.
“What was most helpful for me was that I caught imagery from Judson’s animated loom thumbnail that looked like something I should be in sync with. It’s very easy to miss that level of insight in a phone call or a Slack standup, and it’s one of the most common ways that designers feel out of the loop when they work asynchronously.”
— Desiree Garcia, Senior Product Designer at Loom
We started asynchronous standups with the best of intentions — to reduce interruptions to our individual workflows without the loss of visibility into our work — and then something happened.
Product Design Lead Britt Layton invokes a scene from The Lion King 🦁 for her weekly standup update.
We all realized this was an opportunity to embrace the weird 🌀, have fun, and express ourselves — making our standups as goofy as possible has become a competition of sorts, and an integral part of our design team culture.
Kim Walker, a Senior Product Designer, went with a jazzy 🎵 text-only approach for an asynchronous weekly standup.
Senior Product Designer Desiree Garcia begins an asynchronous video update with a more personal anecdote about cupping as an intro to her work week.
These weekly videos are also crucial to maintaining a connection and getting to know your coworkers, and asynchronous communication makes this possible. What started as a way to be mindful of the time spent creating and consuming my team’s weekly updates has become a consistent framework to engage with my creativity.
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