Nobody has their base in Munich
I have been working remotely as a designer for the past three years and I can tell for sure, it is not always easy but still possible and fun. I am situated in Munich and my client are currently in Berlin (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark), Nairobi ( Kenya), Cape Town (South Africa), Lagos (Nigeria), Accra (Ghana) and San Francisco (USA). No one I am working has their base actually in Munich, so I do nothing else then work remotely.
If you work remotely you will quickly notice that you need another communication platform then email and a chat platform. You definitely need a video platform where you can actually call the person and discuss stuff. Talking on the telephone is also ok but you then need a possibility to have both hands free, because sometimes you will be designing while you are talking and implementing the customers changes straight away.
Last week I was designing a website and my customer and I were talking about the landing page which is quiet hard if you are not sitting next to each other to try different position of boxes, change colors, or corner option for buttons. I quickly realised that I can’t send over a PDF every single time I change a small thing to ask if that is ok now.
So I did following: I shared my screen via Skype with my client and she could actually see what I was doing. It made it more difficult because she was sitting in a café and couldn’t speak, so instead of talking to each other, we chatted along but it’s all feasible and if you think about it fascinating what the technology now a days makes possible. Anyway, after 30 min, the landing page was perfect and was put up online (www.whatsahoy.com).
Be specific in & respectful of time
When scheduling virtual meetings or conference calls, keep everyone’s local time in mind. My Phone always helps me to figure out what time would be most convenient for participants. Also, eliminate confusion by providing specific time zone information in the invitation or simply tell them what the time means for both of you e.g., “Let us Skype on Thursday 09th April at 3pm my time, that is 2pm your time ”.
I sometimes even mention to them where I am at the moment, because I also travel quiet a bit e.g. “… 3pm my time (I´m in Portugal that week), that is 2pm your time.” If you know your client also travels around ask them if they are in the city you think they are, just to make sure e.g. “You are in Berlin right?”. Also always remember, a virtual meeting is the same as a face-to-face meeting. So be on time and if you can’t make it, let their customer know.
Updates & Status Messages
If I know I will be working with a client over months I normally Skype with them at the end of a week just to keep in touch with them and update them on current stages, or see if I still need feedback on something, or we have forgotten something we need to do next week. A short 5 min Sykpe call is more personal then a quick email.
Along with making your presence felt, you should also let your remote clients know when you’re not working. Just like in a traditional office setting, you don’t want to disappear for the rest of the day and leave your clients hanging. Sending “I will be back in 1 hour” messages for lunch or work breaks during the day is nice too. When you’re done for the day, let people know when you’ll be back. Maybe it’s “The rest I will do tomorrow morning”, or a “Be back later this evening to get [x] done”.
Just keep your client up to date, so they know what is going on.
To put it in a nutshell, getting started with working remotely can be quite an adjustment, both for you and the client. However when it goes right, it can be an excellent way for clients to work with a designer, they know they will get excellent work from. Why search for a designer in your city, who doesn’t satisfy your needs. Rather work with a designer you know will help you no matter what, and there for remotely.
Written with love by Barbara Darchinger