With offices on the East and West coasts, design and concept firm Atelier Cho Thompson had a head start on remote work before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Employees already had work-issued laptops and second monitors. But to work effectively, they still relied on in-person collaboration to design buildings, parks, and interior spaces. When stay-at-home orders went into effect, co-founder and principal Christina Cho was forced to find new ways to foster teamwork without the ability to jump into a conference room together.
In a given day, Cho might find herself reviewing a building design tweak with colleagues in Google Chat, marking up drawings in Conceptboard, and assigning tasks to team members in Asana. Cho and her team also create project boards in Pinterest, which help inspire designs, and have daily video meetings over Zoom.
“Sitting side-by-side, talking, and sketching through ideas and riffing off of each other is critical to our process,” says Cho, who works out of the firm’s San Francisco office. “Now that none of us can be together, we’ve stepped up our distributed workforce game.”
Although some offices are now reopening after months of COVID-related closures, many employees will continue to work from home, creating an ongoing challenge — and new opportunities — for teams like Cho’s. In a recent HP survey, about 20% of workers surveyed said they’re more creative when they can see their co-workers, but more than 70% of workers said they’ve been able to collaborate effectively while working from home.