Remote design: The good, the bad and the ugly (part 3)
This is the last part of 3 articles about remote design. Missed the past ones? Check it out here!
Types of remote work
In this last post of the series I’ll be showing some different types of remote work and the main differences between them. Please bare in mind that I didn’t try each one of those before. I found some good resources on the internet reading some experiences from other people and I tried to summarize the good and the bad aspects of each type.
Fully distributed companies (a.k.a 100% remote)
Let’s start with the most extreme remote working experience. Full distributed companies means that there’s actually no company’s office, HQ or any physical space that represent the company as one physical thing. Scrapinghub, the company I work for, is included on this type. I mentioned the word extreme because having no office represents in a psychological point of view a total lack of need for a centralized administration and processes. Everything and everyone in the company can be located in a different place and all the regular work done by the company, including HR, finance, overall administration and all other teams depends only on digital tools to make everything work and to guarantee that the company is up and running.
- Doesn’t matter where you are, since you have a good internet connection.
Since the company save a LOT of money by not having expenses with rent, electricity and everything that a physical office requires they can use that money to offer better salaries and/or benefits
- Little to no human contact (except for the team gatherings every now and then)
- The weird feeling that everything is fragile and can disappear. It’s funny but specially at the beginning you feel that the if people don’t reply to you the company is over.
- It takes a whole other level of discipline and a good aware of the need for communication
Office work with remote working day(s)
This is how most companies introduce remote work on their routines, allowing employees to stay at home once or twice a week or for several days in a row once a month.
- You still have all the regular face to face interactions and sometimes can be away to be more productive
- You realise that you enjoy too much working outside of office
- When you remote day are not the same as your colleagues and they have that important meeting and forget to tell you about it. It’s frustrating to be away and feeling that you’re missing important stuff :(
Full time office work but working remotely with other teams (a.k.a fake remote)
I wanted to add this because it’s a common practice in big companies that have multiple branches. Let’s say an agency have all the design team working in New York but their Brazilian (which just started and it’s still very small) branch needed to hire a local designer to help. This one designer will basically have to work remotely with the NY team to make sure he/she’s following all the processes and guidelines and also brainstorming and working on projects just as they are at the same office.
This is a very specific situation but even if they all are working in offices, the remote working skills and tools are pretty much the same as working from any place else.
- Learning how to be productive and to work far from other people
- If you’re in a situation that ALL your work is happening for teams in the other branches, you definitely feel that there’s no reason to leave your home to be at the office.
Office work with some remote working employees
This is a tricky one. Remember when I mentioned that when you have some days to work at home and you’re left out of some important meeting or decision? In this type of remote work this can happen quite often. Imagine all your working mates discussing things, attending to meetings and getting coffee together and you are miles away from that. Let’s say that this practice is new at the company (having some remote workers) and the internal culture doesn’t have that ingrained yet. It’s normal that people will simply forget that the outside people even exist sometimes. Pretty bad isn’t it?
- The company can feel how it is to manage remote workers and learn the good and the bad parts of it to eventually move to a broader remote philosophy.
- The chance for people in the office to apply for those positions (when that option is offered)
- For the remote worker the feel that it’s being left out of the team in important moments
- For the office workers the feel that they don’t have the privilege to work remotely and starting comments such as “those lazy guys that works on their pajamas”
Office work with 100% remote work option available
Finally a mixed type of remote company. This is one of my favorites because there’s all the upsides of remote and office companies combined. Let’s use Automattic for example. They are the company that invented and maintain Wordpress. They are a 100% remote company but at the same time they do have a beautiful office in which any employee can go there and work anytime they want. So it’s completely optional and they can work in any way they feel comfortable and more productive.
- Work at home or at the office if you feel that you miss seeing real people
- The sense that the company is really there!
- You have an office to go to but you leave in another country! That’s not so cool, but at least you can travel and enjoy some time in a different country/city ;)
Remote work is not just a trend, is something that the companies will have to embrace. Whether is going fully distributed or just giving some flexibility for their employees, remote work is something that can benefit the world by making people use less cars and public transportation, people by allowing them to spend more time with their families and also the companies themselves by learning to be more productive, saving resources and having happier employees.
"you’d be amazed how much quality collective thought can be captured using two simple tools: a voice connection and a shared screen."
— Jason Fried, Remote: Office Not Required
Book Remote: Office not required by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (Basecamp)
Book The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work by Scott Berkun