Articles by: Sam Radbil
Remote Graphic Design Team Management & Collaboration
Sometimes it seems that everyone is working remotely these days. If you are a millennial, this is probably not news to you, but if you happen to be older and unaccustomed to working with a remote vendor, here are four suggestions that can make your project and management run more smoothly:
Remotely produced or not, you want your stuff done on time, and it you have a serious hard stop, you’ll need to communicate that early in the process. Make sure your team knows what you need and when you need it. Many remote designers are loaded with projects and will naturally give priority to those customers that express a sense of urgency. If a deadline is missed, be sure to let your vendors know that this can’t happen again in the future.
Don’t think that email is the only way you can communicate with your remote design team. Apps like Slack work great for some people, while others like a more intense project management app like Basecamp, for example.
While simple apps like Slack allow you to directly message your remote design team, more complex platforms like Basecamp will allow multiple people to work on your project and keep the current version available to everyone. Not having to email v.1, v.2 and other project iterations avoids the problem of different persons working on non-current project versions.
Set Communication Parameters
First, understand time zone issues. Many remote designers in India, for example, have a lot of U.S. based clients, and therefore they may have no problem working odd hours so that they can communicate with you at your convenience.
Other times, even in the U.S., someone working for you from their studio apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin may not be available at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. You and your team need to set parameters for the most efficient and timely communications. Also, make sure you have an understanding about when emails will be returned. If you agreed to wait 24 hours before receiving an email reply, don’t get hyper and send panicked emails if the proper time period has not elapsed.
Money and Payment
Ensure that you read any contract before signing it. Make sure that you own any of the design work that you are paying for, and that copyrights will be yours. (You may need to consult a lawyer about this issue.)
Agree upon a currency to be used for payment. Worldwide, most remote designers will accept U.S. dollars, but you may find one that would prefer a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, so you should be prepared to understand how to buy and pay for items with it.
Do not deviate from payment terms that you have agreed upon, and if your remote designer asks for money earlier than what is spelled out in your contract, that could be a red flag. Also, observe all internet payment security measures, and never give anyone your social security number.
Working with a remote team can be great; just make sure you pay attention to the points mentioned above.
It’s great that you landed a remote graphic designer gig. You’ll have no more stressful drives to the office and you’ll have the ability to take walks when you want. You can schedule medical appointments during the week instead of trying to find early or late hours, and you can work all night and sleep all day if you choose.
What could be better?
Whether you live in a studio apartment in Chicago, where the expensive rent prices might hinder your ability to lease an actual office; or a cheap apartment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin which allows you to have a spare bedroom for a workspace at home, you’ll need to ensure you have the ideal working environment.
Maybe you think you have found the perfect workplace solution, but there are some things you need to get in order first no matter where you live and work.
Tips for Graphic Designers Who Work Remotely at Home
Wi-Fi Is Not Always Your Friend
You obviously need a reliable Internet connection to be able to work at home and wired is always better that wireless.
Wi-Fi can be great as you can move to the backyard, the porch, or even sit in your car, but if your connection is iffy, you won’t get anything done. Many programs like Adobe Creative Cloud are now web-based, and you may need to be online to use them. Go ahead and put ethernet connections in every room if you must but wired is much more reliable than wireless.
Buy A Good Computer
You may have been using a powerful work computer that was linked to a massive server, and now your trusty personal laptop may just not be powerful enough to handle the things you need to do. Talk to a knowledgeable IT tech about the things that make a computer reliable and fast like:
- BUS Speed
- Video cards
- Operating systems
Make sure your tech knows exactly what you want your machine to accomplish before you purchase a new one.
Anyone that has switched from a standard to a solid state hard drive will never go back. Solid state drives are amazingly fast. A Windows update that would take 30 minutes on a computer with a standard hard drive can take seconds with a solid-state drive. Boot-up times are also minimized, and the solid-state upgrade is one to seriously consider.
Working at Home
Note that we said “working.” Remember you will have the temptations of your fridge, the TV, the couch, your garden, and even your bed. Working at home takes discipline, and this can mean setting limits for yourself.
Many successful remote workers set up a nice office at home and don’t use it for anything else. They finish a certain amount of work before they take a break or go to the gym, and they try to keep distractions at a minimum.
The Other Side
Some people get so involved in remote work, that they just can’t break away. The computer is always there, and the office is a few steps away. They can’t walk past the workspace without checking email or doing a last-minute edit. Work never goes away, and free time is crowded out. In this case, limits on work should be set so that your job doesn’t consume your life.
It’s all about balance. If you can get your work done and still have some personal time, working at home could be the thing for you. If you find that you feel weird staying at home all day, or if you just can’t get anything done, think about trying a shared workspace. You’ll have great Internet, there may be some perks like free snacks and beverages, and it will get you out of the house while preserving your independence.
Working remotely may require some adjustments, but more and more people like the flexibility it can bring.