How to Achieve Great Design, Remotely.
Today’s technology has extended access to countless firms across the United States and internationally. You can choose to work with giant organizations or small studios with just a few clicks of a button. But the question remains, how can you be sure you’re achieving great design while working remotely?
Your best work boils down to basic human interaction. Client relationships.
Great design comes from good clients. Think back to your best work and how you would describe that client relationship. Maybe it was creative liberty or providing insight in a timely manner.
When your client doesn’t understand your process or is unavailable for approvals, it can be hard to reach your full potential.
We could fall down the rabbit hole of statements that make a “good” client, but that’s not what this article is here to discuss. It takes two to tango after all. The key to success in design resides in three basic factors you can easily master. It’s the foundation for any type of work but particularly impactful for those of you working remotely.
Like all great relationships, communication is key. Working remotely, you must be well rounded in all forms of communication, including but not limited too verbal, non-verbal, written, and visual. Everyone communicates differently and you need to be quick to identify your client's preference.
I recently worked with a client across the pond. Since I wasn’t able to pop into their office on a whim, we scheduled weekly calls at the same time, on the day, each week. Their organization functioned on this form of consistency and I obliged. By adapting to their routine I was able to establish a new line of trust while allowing both parties to check in on progress.
A common misconception of remote work is that because we’re not on-site, we‘re not working as hard. It can be difficult to convince a client just because they can’t see you doing the work, it doesn’t mean you’re not working.
The best way to manage this perception is to set boundaries and shared expectations. Clearly state your hours of availability, which can be especially important if you’re working in different time zones. An aspect often overlooked, it can easily disrupt scheduled meetings and expected response times.
I also let clients know I work from my home office and what my daily workflow looks like. The more they know about your process upfront the easier it is to establish a positive perception.
There is nothing worst than jumping on a conference call just to talk over each other and hear nothing. This is where a good ol’ fashioned agenda comes in handy. That hour of time you share is important. Show it’s value with an outline that ensures all topics are covered, priorities are aligned and input from necessary team members is received.
I once had a typography teacher preach that you must know the rules, so you can break them effectively. I now apply that concept to various parts of my design practice. If you can’t master the foundational aspects of a good client relationship, which working remotely relies on, can you really produce your best work?
- While trust starts with communication it easily bleeds into design, giving you the creative freedom to produce your best work.
- Transparency relieves negative perception, allowing your design workflow to be unapologetic.
- Etiquette shows your investment in the project and gets you through the suit and tie routine, so you can get back to great design.