Design tip #4: Designing Remotely

I’ve worked remotely as a designer for over 10 years. I’ve worked everywhere from my home to beaches, cafes, bars, airport floors, and all the way back to my sofa. Along the way, I have learned a thing or two about what makes a designer successful when working remotely.

Hey, I’m Alex and I’m Head of Design here at ZOOMcatalog. In this article, I am not going to throw a bunch of tools at you, but instead, give you some helpful tips on things you can do to make working remotely as a designer successful. 

Planning and understanding is more important than ever

One of the hazards of working remotely is an increased risk of misunderstanding. Not having your colleagues alongside means you don’t have them (for better or worse) peeking over your shoulder, you miss overhearing those second-hand conversations, and many of the safety nets that would have made you realize you were not on the right track have now gone.

That’s why up-front planning, and asking all the questions you have, until you are certain your understanding is the right one, is more critical than ever. 

A great habit to build is writing down the goals and scope of your work, sharing with the team, and referring back to them frequently.

Share and fail early

Going 10 hours into a project before you share anything is a recipe for disaster. Whether it be a simple concept in the form of a written idea, a quick sketch, or an imperfect mockup – you should share early and validate the direction you are going in.

I like to create quick video walkthroughs presenting my ideas. It allows me to present my work with context and share my vision, but anything from an email, message or screenshot works!

Repeat yourself

You might be focused on your work, but that does not mean everyone on your team is. When working remotely, you lose the shared environment that often plays a big role in reminding people about the project itself — whether it be print outs of ideas, a whiteboard full of notes, or sticky notes everywhere. To make up for this, you’ll need to get into the habit of repeating yourself. Constantly remind people what you’re doing, why, and the objectives.

Embrace your environment

Find the environment that works best for you, and embrace it. The unique advantage of working remotely is that your environment is just that, it’s yours. Your comfort and your performance are all that matters.

For me, I do my best thinking when walking. More often than not during calls, I’m on my feet walking around the environment I am in — because it’s how I do my best work. Find what works best for you, and embrace it.

There are a handful of tips to help you work as a remote designer, but remember the key to successfully working remotely as a designer, or in any role is finding what works best for you and your team. There is no one-size-fits-all playbook, different people, personalities and companies all work differently.