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The Future Of Remote Work With Hyper Island: Event Recap

Written by 
Emilia Åström
April 20, 2016


Recently, MURAL had the pleasure to work with the Digital Media Management student crew 7 at Hyper Island in Manchester. The school is located in the Northern Quarter, known as the city's creative hub. Here, they offer a range of MA courses, including Digital Media Management.

Real world design thinking practiced at Hyper Island.

During the first part of the Digital Media Management program, the students have a project about design thinking. In this case, the project had two parts.

First, students performed research on design thinking. Then in the second part, they were presented a brief in which the students would apply their design thinking experience with a real client.

That’s where MURAL came in.

Tash Willcocks, Programme Leader for DMM, wanted to bring something extra to the project. An area in design thinking that just recently started to be explored is how you apply design thinking in remote teams. It was a perfect fit for MURAL since we are dedicated to improving remote design.

tash willcocks hyper island
Tash Willcocks at Hyper Island

Together with Tash and Andy Young, a design consultant and industry leader of the project, we prepared a brief that the students would work with during the project.

The collaboration between MURAL and Hyper Island had three parts:

  • Kickoff and briefing
  • Check in
  • Pitch


To start the project, we held a workshop with the students in MURAL to give them a chance to experience remote work in action. Present yourself with images is a fun exercise that never fails, and in just a couple of minutes the students were busy and laughing filling out their profiles.

MURAL me in images
Ice breaker “Me in images”

During the project Laïla von Alvensleben from Hanno did a one day intense workshop in remote design thinking with the students. The students also took the opportunity to ask her, as a remote worker herself, what she is looking for to improve remote work.

slide design it yourself
Slide from presentation by team DIY (Design It Yourself)

Students were then presented our mission for this effort, as follows:

MURAL wants to give people doing creative work the ability to collaborate visually in a human centred way while working remotely. We should not only make them to feel closer together. We should also make them feel smarter together.


Their challenge was framed broadly, but still specific to both design and remote collaboration:

With the lens of feeling closer and smarter together, how might we design the future of remote collaboration?

After the briefing, the students had three weeks to use their design thinking skills to come up with solutions with MURAL for the future of remote work. Besides preparing a 10 minute pitch of their idea to present remotely through a video call, they were also asked to record and upload a video of their pitch.


One week into the project, we did a 15-minute check in with each team to talk about the project and let the students ask more questions about the brief and remote work. It was also an opportunity for the students to present their ideas and receive feedback.

In the beginning of the week we sent out an email with a schedule for the sessions. We had prepared a conference call room for the check in and all student groups could click on the same link to join us in the same conference call room when it was their turn.

During the project the students used MURAL as a tool for research, idea generation, design to experience remote work first hand and become experts.

mind map research mural
Mind map research Mural in MURAL


On the pitch day, we logged on to sound check with Tash in Manchester half an hour before the pitches were about to start. Five persons from the MURAL team, in different locations around the world, were eager to get up early to watch the presentations.

On Hyper Island's end, Tash and the staff had one computer to be able to communicate with us in case of emergency, a second computer with the camera turned on to show the students while presenting, and a third computer to share the screen of the presentation through the video call, and projected it on the wall in Manchester.

There was also a phone connected to the conference call so Tash in Manchester could listen to what we were hearing, to check the sound quality without interfering with the computers.

The Ice Cream Method by Team Fabio
The Ice Cream Method by Team Fabio

The solutions that were presented in the pitches, varied from apps, to artificial intelligence, processes and methods and ideas on how to improve MURAL. The students came up with many great ideas that we were greatly inspired by, and pieces of all the teams presentations will probably end up in the application at some point in the future. Below is a brief summary of each:

Remote Work Air

A community that help remote workers find a place to work and get in touch with other remote workers when relocating to new cities. Remote Work Air would not only be a social platform to connect with the remote work community but also an opportunity for freelancers and startups to create new revenue streams.

Simple M

Simple M is basically a simpler version of MURAL. It’s free, no registration needed, easy to use with fewer options to add content and less functionality, and the murals you create are disposable. A free simple version would allow MURAL to reach more users, with the opportunity to get more subscribers of the full version.

Artificial Intelligence Support

An AI device that accompanies you in life and work, learning from you, teaching you and supporting you in your everyday life. Artificial Intelligence Support can be compared with a mix of your perfect co-worker and personal assistant, and also substitute you at meetings and occasions.

The Ice Cream Method

A simple method that eases the often difficult job of remote working into a more structured and focused set of tasks. Don’t eat all your ice cream all at once, try eating it bit by bit to avoid brain freeze. Work in short time intervals with quick breaks in between where you share and reflect with your team. The Ice Cream Method can be downloaded as an app or integrated in MURAL.

Energize 2gether

Energizers are tools to inject energy into the process, get people moving and have fun, by engaging them in physical activity, laughter or a game. Energize 2gether gives instructions to remote team members synchronously so they can do energizers together and benefit as a team.

Energize 2gether Mural by Team D.I.Y. (Do it Yourself)
Energize 2gether mural by Team D.I.Y. (Do it Yourself)

After delivering feedback on the presentations, we were eager to get some feedback ourselves. Victor Olsson from Digital Media Management Crew7, shared his vision of the future of remote work with us:

With students of 27 nationalities and great ambition, the crew in MA Digital Media Management at Hyper Island went all-in to work with MURAL to find solutions for the future of remote work. MURAL is a tool for remote work, recreating the intense use of post-its in a digital space. Most teams tried remote work to learn how to move forward. With insights, and a lot of frustration, we moved forward in how to expand MURAL to enhance the experience of working remotely. To be more specific, how to collaborate remotely.

In the future, remote work should be simple and smart. The ideas we came up with included everything from a lite version of MURAL to plug-ins such as energisers and time-management and to more futuristic ideas such as personal AI support.

As a millennial, my future workplaces are remote and ever-changing. Hopefully our collaboration with Mural has prepared us for these changes.

Simple M team che
Simple M by Team Che

MURAL sends a big thank you to DMM7, Tash and Andy. It was very inspiring to work with you and hear your ideas and visions on how the future, and the present, of remote work can improve.


Remote work is hard, but not impossible. Even though MURAL and the students at Hyper Island were spread across three continents during these interactions (SA, NA, and Europe), we were still able to effectively collaborate.

Some key take-aways we learned are:

  • Prepare ahead of time and schedule presentation time and check-ins so as many as possible can participate
  • Practice the presentations remotely in advance to foresee any technological difficulties
  • Assign one person during the presentations who is overseeing the technology
  • Have a plan B for presenting in case technology fail
  • Remember to present to both the persons who are in the same room as you as well as the remote assistants


Find out more about MURAL’s investigation into remote design. Here are some of our recommended resources:

About the author

About the authors

Emilia Åström

Emilia Åström is a facilitator and coach of creative and collaborative processes that support digital transformation.