Our Homeless Design Team

Why owning office space is dated and how working remotely is empowering a new age of designers. Including us.

I’m sitting on a plane in Mumbai, ready to take to the sky and make my way back to London after three weeks of intense travelling — in less than 8 hours I will have travelled a mere 4000 miles back to my dwelling and work place of choice. The key word in this introduction being ‘choice’, remember it.

When ideas and new relationships act as the stimulus for innovation it makes sense for our life to be a truly limitless and global experience. It brings the question to mind: Why by default do we choose to limit ourselves to the surroundings and relationships of the office place? The answer is simple, it’s what we’ve always conformed to as being the ‘best work solution’ and so far it has generated billions of pounds for many businesses — but when you step away from the norm you begin to allow yourself to work on a different level, a level that provides more than just financial rewards.

The New Age Design Agency

Whether it’s designing and building a product, starting your own agency, mentoring a young designer at a local college or using your design thinking skills to better society — all of us have ambitions outside of the office place. Putting yourself in a position to be able to live and work this way or factoring these allowances into your business setup as an employer will bring about a company culture that’s rewarding as well as productive.

Others that share the same philosophy as we do at Moken are Andrew Wilkinson the CEO of Metalab and Jason Fried the founder of Basecamp; Andrew supports this idea by being flexible with working hours — Being able to choose your own hours to fit in with your lifestyle will contribute to you producing your best work as you’re most likely to be choosing the least stressful times in your day, in turn this provides a huge boost to your creativity and design thinking skills. Likewise over at Basecamp, Jason and the team have built a project management tool that enables designers to collaborate as team and client from anywhere in the world — we’re avid users of Basecamp ourselves and it acts as a core part of our work process.

Skype, Slack and Basecamp

The recipe for removing your office. Whilst we still love to meet in person with our clients (especially at the early stages of a project) we don’t sweat too much if it’s not possible because we know they’re only a Skype call or ‘client sign-off’ away on Basecamp.

These three pillars of technology act as our core work process, we haven’t come across one scenario yet that has triggered the thought ‘we need office space to sort this out’. In fact even when working with clients that have the most undesirable time zones we find that our system works in our favour when gathering feedback; If a client is inactive whilst we’re producing work they tend to understand quickly the importance of providing quality feedback when they’re active again in order for the project to keep moving at a good pace.

Liberate and Obliterate

Choosing to do great work over average work begins with choosing to live a great life — One that provides you with the choice to work when you feel most creative, one that has no fixed location and one that connects you with varied and rounded people with wacky ideas.

When you provide yourself with the space and surroundings you require to thrive you then become liberated. We call it ‘Liberate and Obliterate’, it’s the process of providing yourself with all the luxuries you need to be in the right frame of mind to succeed at what you’re doing — you’re then able to obliterate (in a positive sense) the task in hand.

When we take on a new project at Moken there are no limitations set, just one clear deliverable that you could summarise as ‘Make something useful, make it great and fall in love with what you’re making’. If you can do this it doesn’t matter if you’re working in Starbucks all day every day or if in your spare time you’re teaching computer skills to children in the most deprived parts of India (like in Dharavi, Mumbai). I think when you scratch your itch and begin to achieve goals in your personal life this then acts as motivation to achieve in your professional life too.

File For Divorce

No, don’t. I’m fully aware that this isn’t as easy as jetting off, setting up camp and never looking back at your old life again. There are family and relationship restraints, financial limits and of course client commitments — but think ‘what change could I make in my life to free up some time to do x?’, you’ll probably soon realise it’s as easy as getting out of bed one hour earlier or negotiating to work from home 2 days a week (or even better, remotely).

It’s not a process that will work for every agency but for us having a remote global team allows us to deliver our business ambitions as well as continue to enable our clients ideas, growth and expansion.

Barry runs the remote design agency Moken. You should follow him on Twitter.