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The Ultimate Checklist for Successful Remote Working

"Research by CanadaLife found that remote workers regard themselves as more productive"




May 2019

There are a lot of articles about working remotely, and they often quantify the benefits of working remotely. However, not often do they prepare you in order to be successful at it. So, here’s 14 steps to working remotely successfully, from a designer’s perspective.

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"Research by CanadaLife found that remote workers regard themselves as more productive"

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1. First, be honest about if the type of work you do is actually possible to do so remotely

Working within a team of designers is golden. However, it is still possible to be an effective member of that team while working remotely. It all comes down to communication and your overall product knowledge.

There’s often a lot of back and forth between designers working on complex decisions. Without direct access to those with important product knowledge, it can be difficult to make progress. So, it’s often necessary for remote designers to have a very thorough understanding of the product/s they are working on before going remote.

While there are a lot of resources available and advances in technology making remote work much easier than it was five years ago, it won't be suitable for every position.

"Not every role will be suitable for a 100% remote transition."

Here are some considerations that will limit your workflow when remote:

Despite the above, many roles can still benefit from one or two days of remote work a week.

"70% of people globally work remotely at least once a week."
My workspace while travelling through Barcelona

2. Make sure you have the right personality for it

Successfully working remotely demands a lot from you, and it’s important to be aware of these requirements beforehand. The most important personality traits required are:

View from the passenger seat while remote in Switzerland

3. Check that your workplace is remote-friendly

Rexlabs has been physically and digitally set-up to accommodate remote working from home for a while. Take a look at the below list of attributes a workplace is recommended to have for a healthy remote work set-up.

While I was working remotely from Stockholm

4. Establish trust from your company

If you’re a good employee and a valued part of your team, your workplace should take any eligible request from you seriously—especially if you’ve done your homework and can prove you’re aware of what you’ll be getting yourself into. Reference other companies that have supported remote work, what steps the company or you might need to take to become more remote-friendly, what benefits the company and employees can gain from being a remote-friendly workplace and your plan of attack (time frame, working hours, feedback plan, etc.).

In my circumstances, I had already made the decision to move overseas for personal reasons. I saw the move as an opportunity to work remotely, and proposed it to my workplace thinking that it was quite likely they weren’t ready for it. Instead, they responded with respect and understanding and almost straight away agreed to my proposal. It’s been an incredible experience, which wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t take a chance and go for it.

5. Be on top of things, legally and financially

This is probably the least enjoyable part of working remotely, and one of the most important. It may not be applicable to all remote workers, but if you are no longer employed by a company and instead decide to freelance, you will be responsible for invoicing your clients. Make sure you:

6. Determine your rate

This was quite a challenge, as I couldn’t find any suitable resources online. I also felt conflicted between knowing what I was worth vs feeling guilty for charging a high rate (imposter syndrome). I ended up working out my rate by considering the income I’d receive from holidays and sick days as an employee, adding this to my gross yearly income and, from that, determining a daily rate by dividing work days from the income amount, and dividing by the number of hours in a work day.

As I had moved to Europe, but was still waiting for my new residency, I remained an Australian resident and paid taxes as a normal Australian sole trader. Also, as a labour only contractor, my workplace continued to pay superannuation on top of my rate. So, make sure you are paying the appropriate taxes in the country you are legally residing for tax purposes.

Travelling through Morocco while I was working remotely

7. Have honest and frequent communication

Whether you’ve realised you can’t complete a project on time, or want to adjust your working hours, make sure you communicate with the necessary people honestly and timely. It's far too easy to feel like you can slip unnoticed while not being present in the office—however, it's not a great feeling, and it most likely will be noticed. Instead, be proactive and request feedback on how you can improve and listen carefully to what your team has to say.

8. Communicate your work concisely and consistently

Our team takes design documentation seriously. It gives the designer a platform to express their design thinking: different approaches that were taken, considerations, concerns, and solution/s. This becomes extremely helpful when passing your work over for review, and passing designs onto the development team. Not being physically available, as well as any additional blockers such as time zone means that you need to allow your work to speak for itself. Use supporting items such as images, gifs, and prototypes to further improve the readers understanding of your work. Request in-line comments (google docs) to allow quick feedback and collaboration.

9. Don’t over commit

Unlike working in-house, you will feel much more responsible for delivering good work and proving your value. Even though you want to prove yourself still valuable to your team, it can be easy to want to overdeliver. This will only burn yourself out. Be honest with the hours you can work, and communicate openly when you can’t deliver on time—this is real life.

"More than a third (39%) of people who mostly work from home often work additional hours to complete their tasks, compared with less than a quarter (24%) of those in fixed workplaces, according to 2017 research by Cardiff University." 
My travelling and living situation while working remotely through France

10. Partner up with a trusted colleague in your team

When it comes down to working remotely, there’s only so much you can do. If your role involves setting up new processes, implementing new software, or doing anything that would benefit from having someone in-person campaigning and executing team-based items, it’s still possible with help from a trusted colleague. Touch base with them weekly via video call for an update on both sides, keeping it casual. 

11. Stay present with your team

You want to share what you’ve been up to vs. you’re afraid of coming across like you’re bragging about your endless amount of freedom. However, it’s much better to stay in communication with your team and keep them involved in your experience than keeping quiet.

If your team use Slack, this is a great space to keep being present with your team so you have the feeling of being included and having a sense of community and belonging. If there are others that work remotely too, create a slack channel for remote workers to share stories with each other, and as a way for the rest of the company to keep updated.

View from my workspace while remote in the Italian Alps

12. Surround yourself with others in the same field as you

In my case, this meant being active in my local design community. I met others at coworking spaces, and attended local design meetups and conferences. Whoever will surround you during your time working remotely, in many ways, will become your new colleagues.

Making sure you have a good support network, so you don’t feel isolated, is important to help cope with keeping mentally healthy while working remotely.

13. Decide if you will travel or stay in one place

There is a big difference between working while travelling and working from one place. My first 3 months of working remotely was in Stockholm. I had a pretty normal life, working during the day and having a pretty normal social life at night. Once my 3 months as a tourist came to an end, my partner and I decided to drive through Europe, working along the way. Having now experienced both sides, I can truly understand how different they are and wished I knew more about both beforehand. You can read more on working remotely while travelling here. 

Last piece of advice…

Make sure you’re doing it for the right reason. If you use remote work as a way to avoid having direct contact with colleagues, or as a way to work while watching Netflix, you’re not going to get much out of the experience.

If, however, you make the decision to go remote with all of the above in mind, you’re likely to learn much more about yourself than you ever thought possible all while producing quality work.

Working remotely has definitely, for the most part, been a beneficial experience.

"Besides the obvious luxury of being able to travel and discover other parts of the world, you learn more about yourself and have more control over your day and your experiences."

So if you are thinking about taking the leap and trying out working remotely, I hope this article will give you some clarity and insight into determining whether you and the company you work for are in the right stage to make it work.

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Applications Used


Applications Used

Google Docs for process documentation

Sketch for UX and UI design

Abstract for sketch design file management and version control

Clubhouse to manage individual tasks as well as entire projects

Harvest for tracking my time

Slack for team communications

Zoom for video conference calling

Spotify for road trip music curation