Why working remotely is a good idea?

I asked myself this question when I decided to go on a trip for a year. Could it be possible to work as a User experience designer without being in the office, close to the teams. I listed some points I had in mind and compared with my previous “in-office” experiences.

The answer is YES! Even, be far away allowed me to understand a lot of things. And I’m gonna tell you what.

My “office” for two days on the Mékong River 😎

Meetings

First, I remembered my timetable. Then, I considered the time I spent in meetings. Even with time-keepers and other methodologies, I always thought that those hours were not productive enough. Sometimes, a meeting quickly diverged from the original goal and became useless. It can be for many reasons: the team has some difficulties to express their ideas, it’s a stressful day, someone is not in a good mood, there are some distractions outside…

With emails, phone or video calls, Slack, Hangouts, Skype, Messenger, WhatsApp or any other communication tool, we are often better prepared to:

  • be on time,
  • begin the meeting in good condition,
  • listen to the interlocutor,
  • stay focused,
  • take notes (you’ll be able to have a look at your mate notes!)
  • send a summary email (for you, for the team, for absent people).

Being in front of your computer in a quiet room, open the app, etc. is a process that makes you more inclined to be on time for the meeting. Also, you can’t really do other stuff on your computer 🤐 (ie. you share your screen, you’re in “Do not disturb” mode on Slack, etc.). All you can do is… interact and be there. For real. And it’s so effective.

Moreover, you planned this call unlike some untimely meetings that happen just because people are available now. All the team members have it on their agenda. You also did a quick checklist or a summary in the Calendar invitation to let everybody know why you need to talk to them.

Photo by Don Agnello on Unsplash

Written transcription

After this meeting, you’ll certainly want to discuss another specific subject, explain options or show the work that has been done. You’ll take time to write an email, with all the points you talked about on the phone. And that avoid unnecessary frustrations with some “I never said I was okay with that” or “I didn’t mean it” or maybe “I was definitely not thinking about this”. It happens. The written transcription is so important, we all know it. But sometimes, well… it’s easy to go straight. And that’s even more important in user research to explain and communicate the insights and key findings with the team.

Jetlag

Then, I thought of the jet lag. “How could we work together whereas you wake up when I go to sleep?!

Well, why not? Depending on the project stage, I think that let’s say — 12 hours of difference — are an advantage.

Let’s take the development stage. As usual, you shared your mock-ups and guidelines with your tech team. While you’re away, they take the time to give you objective feedbacks without feeling rushed. Looking for the best way to ship it. Then you wake up, see the work done, adjust with some annotations if needed, and so on. Like if an entire team worked 24/24h!

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Work interruptions

Human is a social animal. Your teammate needs some advice on his work and comes with his computer, almost spilling your coffee. You’ve opened Slack and you can’t help but check the channels messages. And if your desk is near the coffee machine, you’re screwed! You will be less effective. Even if your colleagues had always been one of your first motivation in a company, I think that sometimes, work at home is a good way to focus and finish the work.

For me, working remotely is a fair formula for less distraction + more concentration.

Flexibility

Did you say work hours? 🤔 Working remotely allows you to organize your day and be more flexible. And you know what? Taking some time to go out is the key to productivity! Fresh air allows you to be more focused on your task rather than staying in front of a piece of paper or facing a problem you are not able to solve between 9 am and 5 pm.

Also, it lets your ideas come over! In my experience, I often found my best ideas in unexpected moments like taking the train, sitting in a car, or just by visiting a museum. Like when you forgot a word: it’s when you stop thinking about it that you finally find it! I’m not saying that inspiration comes “just like that” with a nice breath. I strongly believe that work every day is non-negotiable to become a great designer or entrepreneur.

It helps sometimes to BE “out of the box”, allowing your brain to create effective and creative solutions.

Hoping you liked my very first article, I can’t wait reading your opinions or experiences in comments.

I will write more articles on this subject (working remotely) with other angles like Doing UX remotely, or the “Digital Nomad” life. Tell me if you’re interested!