Working Remotely – Good or Bad?

I currently am working alone in my office, however, I’m not really alone – there’s the Twitterverse and I am constantly talking to 3 other people who are all crucial in the business. There’s Roger who is part of the YKW family (called Media Two in Australia), then there’s Kieran my trusty freelancer and Hannah my remote PA.  

This has made me start to think, with the revolution of web cameras, the built in isight cameras on Macs and Skype I could easily build a true e-studio at the drop of a hat, if you are working on something do you really need/want the distraction of other people in the office? Although this can be great at times, as I’ve experienced, I’m sure most people, like me,  would like the freedom and flexibility of working for yourself. 

So imagine being an e-designer, coming into work in the morning, scheduling a time for a quick meeting to discuss the days work via Skype or ichat – then heading off for the day to do your job, all from the comfort of your own home and without being micromanaged. Finish up the day with a quick get together online and voila, you have an e-studio. 

I might think seriously about doing this, I’m shortly going to be needing someone on a more permanent basis but why follow the run of the mill, they don’t need to be here with me, all I’m interested in is someone with great skills and can work proactively on their own without me holding their hands and the chances are they are outside the 10 mile radius of where I work, so why not?

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  • I don’t think you need to create an e-studio – it sounds like you’ve already got one to me! 🙂

    There are some employers / clients who feel it’s essential to have someone work from the company office, but this is becoming less and less important with each day. Sure, the conversation two people can have face-to-face is often better than email tennis back-and-forth, but it doesn’t always lead to more productivity. And when outsourcing to other freelancers (as opposed to taking them on as employees), remote working is nearly always the right answer. As you rightly said, why limit the pool of talent to a 10 mile radius?

  • I’m doing this at the moment, and it suits me down the ground.

    A lot of the work I do, I don’t need a lot of input from other people (apart from the client obviously) so being alone to ponder does me the world of good. Being around others often makes me frustrated because I can’t focus like I would like, and I give up and just join in with the racket. At home I can focus, and not be afraid to walk away from my computer and do something else when I’m overloaded.

    That said having someone to natter to, will sometimes help solve a problem (even if the person you talking to has no idea what you are on about). As you say, the internet allows this with ease, and yes it’s not for everyone but it works for some.

    Traditionalists will always have a hard time understanding the benefits, but I can sympathise when keeping an eye on your bottom line often requires knowing what your remote people are doing with that time they are billing. Trust is a hard thing to truly build over the internet. I would always, if possible, prefer to meet eye to eye before any large amount of work took place.

  • Certainly nowadays the web has little restrictions, I still like to see people face to face as I can put over points more clearly however with the use of webcams this would more than likely make things easier.

    Certainly something to think about.

  • I come from the opposite side in that I like the studio concept with people around, generating a buzz. I guess this is because I had this on my design degree and it translated into the first design job I had. Even when I started freelance I shared a studio with another designer.

    I’ve now got 2 employees and yes it does restrict location (both for me and them). It just suits the way I like to work to have a studio environment.

  • admin

    I can understand that Matt – there was no greater feeling for me than seeing the people who worked for me everyday, we had a great time and all pulled together when needed. I can totally understand from your point of view, it’s just down here office rates are so much money and great designers are few and far between..

  • There are some great interviews in the book ‘How to Be a Graphic Designer: Without Losing Your Soul’ (http://moourl.com/q3nb5) that talk about the styles of working etc, and it mentions how some really crave and feed off a collaborative environment, yet some prefer to be alone.

    It’s an interesting subject, but one that I’d be going off topic for to discuss. That book is a good read for lots of ideas on our industry, even if some are biased towards more traditional elements of GD.

  • I think it depends on your personality. I worked from home for 6 months and really enjoyed it at the start. However after a while I did start to miss the camaraderie of working in an office. Chats about movies or TV over coffee, going out for lunch together or heading to the pub after work on a Friday. Skype can help, but there’s nothing like real life IMHO.