I remember back in the day, where the normal for a company was the perception of remote working as bad thing for the overall performance of the employees. Working from home was equal to people laid back and less productive.
It was really hard to find a remote gig and even if you could find one, people were not treating you the same. You were the exception, an outsider, with limited access to meetings & social events, because they weren’t designed for you.
We had to see people die and health systems take a huge hit all over the world, in order to understand that remote working, except of a necessity during a pandemic, is actually not so bad at all. More and more companies are starting to realise that being able to choose where you work from, is good for the mental health of their employees and it’s also cost effective.
And it’s changing the way we work and collaborate, forever. Not for me though.
I’ve been working remotely for tech companies for almost 14 years now and although I’m kind of loving it, I can understand why it’s such a frustration for some.
“But we have kids, Thanos, we live in a small apartment, and so many hours of zoom calls, our brain hurts”. I know people, trust me, I know. I have kids as well and the meetings, shit, they brutal.
It’s too much and that is why I thought I’d share with you a few ideas on how I’m doing it and some alternatives, with the hope that some of the things below might help you navigate these remote waters with safety.
No kids, no problems. I was working from my bedroom, the kitchen, living room, balcony. It’s doable.
If you do have kids, you need your own space. There’s no alternative. No noise cancelling headphones are going to help you. The kid will find you and start all that annoying kissing and hugging and “daddy daddy look what I draw”, or perhaps make pee pee in her pants.
That’s not a problem of sound and if you’re looking for an excuse to get the ultra expensive pair of headphones you've been looking in the last few weeks, well.. I am not going to assist you on this one. Be brave and admit that you just want them. It’s called shopping therapy!
I’m lucky enough to live in a house and I’ve built a small studio in the basement that has a door with a numeric keypad and no door knob. When I close the door, there’s a sign above it that says “live” and it’s on with a red colour, so anyone happens to be in the basement, they know I’m inside and I’m working.
I live in a small city, but even here, I have friends that are looking to rent a nice office space somewhere close to their homes and do what I do in my basement. Renting costs along with power and internet bills are not that high if you divide them by 3 for example and that’s an excellent alternative to a home office.
“So who is going to watch my kids, Thanos? Especially when schools are closed during lock-downs”.
I hear you, that’s a tough one. Maybe you’re lucky to have a wife or a husband that can share that responsibility and maybe one of you isn’t working so many hours, but just in case you all work like there’s no tomorrow (which is a bad thing for a bunch of other reasons), and you don’t have the help of grandparents, you need to hire someone. Consider it as new “transportation” expense.
I am going to be honest with you here. I thrive through chaos. I don’t have a problem with a messy workspace or things flying around in the form of digital notifications craving my attention, while I’m trying to solve a problem.
I learned how to embrace distractions. You see, I learned that I’m performing better when I’m taking small and frequent breaks. Rewind my brain, do something analog or see a funny video, anything else except working, really.
If you are taking frequent small breaks, distractions don’t have the time to reach you, you create them. You own them. You become the distraction. Personally, that makes me feel refreshed and able to give my 101% again and again, and again.
Maybe it’s because I belong in that IRC generation where we were making friends through text, but I just don’t feel alone. I’m talking all day with my co-workers through Slack and Meet and sometimes we’re even designing together in Figma. What else can a designer ask for?
If you feel alone, maybe it’s something else, something deeper. Make friends who have time for you and make time to go and play with them outside. I understand that you have a family, kids and responsibilities, but if you don’t take care of that loneliness, your family will suffer as well.
“This new way of working has brought on its own set of challenges like the lack of motivation”.
I mean, what?!
I don’t need motivation to wake up every morning and go to my basement, open my computer and start building the internet! I love the internet! I’m sorry, I don’t understand the question.
If your company recently adopted remote working because of covid, that doesn’t mean that it has also adopted the necessary culture and processes required to make its employees succeed and it might be difficult to stand out and prove your worth, the way you’d usually do if you were in the office.
So here’s what I do and it’s pretty simple actually. I try to be always present, always there, always available, to everything and everyone. Be proactive and talk to people before they look for you. Remind them that you’re there and you can help. Take initiatives, propose things and just speak out. Increase transparency in your team and across departments on what you do and what you bring to the table. That’s actually a good subject for a future live on YouTube!
In 4 words: Put in the work.
I am a sketch guy all the way. I can design in Figma alright, by do I know all the tricks and tips I know in Sketch? No I don’t and if you’re like me, I believe this course will help us a lot.
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If you are new to UX Design or looking for a new job, my last YouTube live was about how to get hired as a UX/UI Designer. I talked about how to structure your portfolio and CV, personal branding and where to find gigs (in Greek).
In my upcoming live (this Sunday 28/3 at 21:00), I’m sharing a real project we did in Transifex and how UX research helped us make a better decision about a design change we want to introduce to our platform. I’ll talk about the process and the tools that helped us and my role as a designer in this project. I look forward seeing you there!
Hank Voight is an old school police officer and he runs a special unit in Chicago, intelligence. For me, this is one of the best police dramas I'm watching and I also love Hank. He's special.
In this tv show we'll be following an elite Navy Seals team all over the globe, killing people. I know, it doesn't sound good and it's 100% American propaganda, but it's so good, I just can't stop watching it. I REGRET NOTHING.
Zack Snyder's Justice League
The best super heroes movie I've ever seen. 4 hours of pure awesomeness and I'm not going to write anything else about it. If you're into Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder woman and Flash, just go see it.
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Until next time, stay frosty!