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Ask DN: Is it just me, or are there less remote jobs for designers?

over 4 years ago from , Maker

There seems to be less and less job postings for remote design positions. (Especially as compared to other disciplines)

For example: today's We Work Remotely only has two listed (and the newest was posted 19 days ago).

Have you noticed this? Why do you think that is?

12 comments

  • Cai Cardenas, over 4 years ago

    I've been working remotely for various clients for the past 6 months, and one thing I've learned is it definitely requires a very high level of communication and trust from both the designer and client. It can't be one-directional. I need to be confident that I have all the info I need to make informed decisions, and the client needs to be confident that I'm going to produce my best work while they're asleep!

    The designer also has to be very self-motivated and I think it pays to have some in-house experience already under their belt. I don't think I could successfully do my job remotely now if I didn't have 10 years of past agency and startup experience to help mold my thinking and processes.

    I think it gives both designers and clients the chance to work with each other regardless of geographic proximity, which wouldn't have been possible 5-10 years ago, and the cross-pollination of ideas, knowledge and perspectives as a result is a great thing.

    It's been working out great for me so far, and I don't think I'll want to change things any time soon, but I can understand why it's not for everyone.

    2 points
  • Tristan HarwardTristan Harward, over 4 years ago

    This is anecdotal, but might help explain the imbalance.

    Working with remote designers is particularly difficult. The company itself needs to already be set up for good remoting, which most are not (I'm 3 for 3 on companies being bad at this).

    Most importantly, design itself is a multidisciplinary linking role in most companies—it's not just about the work, but more about how you connect people, lead teams, and inspire. So it's partly justified that many companies are wary of pushing these fundamentally leadership roles off-site.

    If a company is set up well for remoting, if they have a remote-friendly or remote-first culture and good systems, and if the designer is great at managing teams and inspiring from a distance, or if the role calls for more of an individual contributor relationship, then it can work. Unfortunately, I think for design more than engineering, all of those are less likely to be true. Or, at least, companies don't believe they're true enough to open the door to remote designers.

    2 points
    • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      multidisciplinary linking role

      NOICE. And I mean that. Very true.

      More often than not we designers find ourselves setting up social media pages, copy-writing, product defining, print designing, ui sketching, front-end coding, CMS extending and whatever else it takes.

      Also, the number of times we'll have to improve internal processes for products to behave properly...

      ... doing all of that remotely? Not a chance. (Personal opinion ofc.)

      Maybe when we only touch front-end and they already have an in-house designer to take care of the functional side of things?

      .edit: playing a pronoun game.

      1 point
  • Luboš VolkovLuboš Volkov, over 4 years ago

    I never worked in the office, I have been working remotely with US based companies for almost 7+ years now. And it require lot of learning and self development in order to succeed in this market. But one thing is true for sure, designing remotely (within bigger teams is really hard).

    It's actually really good to design remotely and then every 3 - 4 months go and push for a week or two together in order to collaborate etc and then get back to your location. It works for us.

    It really depends, you can all the time try https://www.toptal.com/#select-talented-contractors to access remote jobs.

    2 points
    • Gary Bacon, over 4 years ago

      It's actually really good to design remotely and then every 3 - 4 months go and push for a week or two together in order to collaborate etc and then get back to your location. It works for us.

      I've done this. I think it works for the remote team as a whole. Finding a company with a remote first mindset is definitely key.

      0 points
  • Bevan StephensBevan Stephens, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

    I have noticed this. I currently work 60% remotely for a startup. I go to the office two days a week. But I'd like have to travel less as it's a long journey (2.5 hrs each way).

    I would recommend responding to non-remote job ads that you think you would be a good fit for, and then asking if they are willing to be flexible about it. It may just be that they hadn't considered it.

    It does take a lot of trust on the employer's part, and a very good communication and self-motivation on the designer's part, having a good few years of experience helps too.

    1 point
  • cliff nowickicliff nowicki, over 4 years ago

    I think it has a lot to do with the dynamic designers bring to their work. Collaboration between people is what makes a designer produce better work. This means designers working in a team can make a better product at the end of the day. Developers tend to have a talk out session and then are told to make it work essentially. The end result is that it works or it doesn't. If you were to tell a designer to make it work, there wouldn't always be a clear cut yes/no answer to their solution. It's up for debate. It's always up for debate.

    That's not to say remote is out of the question because we obviously don't talk to each other the entire day. Teams have made it work and are strong because of it. I guess its down to each company and how bad they want to be face to face with the designer on a daily basis.

    1 point
  • Matt WestMatt West, over 4 years ago

    I agree. There definitely appears to be less remote design jobs then development ones. I wonder if that's because it's been more common to have distributed development teams in the past.

    FreeAgent for example will hire remote developers but require their designers to work from their office in Edinburgh.

    1 point
  • Jon SchaferJon Schafer, over 4 years ago

    I couldn't agree more. And I've either looked at or tried a lot of so-called remote-friendly sites: Olokuta, Gigster, UpWork, Working Not Working, Crew, LocalSolo, and OnSite.

    That said, I do find a fair amount of remote work via good ol' word of mouth. My clients are either in NY or SF and with tech like Hangouts or Zoom, remote work is actually pretty seamless.

    0 points
  • John Jackson, over 4 years ago

    I worked remotely for most of my career. Recently, I accepted a job in a nearby city and began working in a physical location. I love working from home, but communication and collaboration is so much easier when you are in the office with your team.

    0 points
  • Dave HawkinsDave Hawkins, over 4 years ago

    I think it mostly comes down to a skills gap personally, there seems to me to be a lot more need for Front End Engineers than ever before, and I even know designers switching from design to Front End to fill that skills gap + make more money in the process.

    Perhaps it's simply easier to find great design talent + keep them, then it is for people to keep great Software Engineers, given the state of the recruitment for these roles.

    I've been working as a remote designer for 2+ years now and recently due to start a new job, I didn't have a problem personally but I do have experience on my side.

    0 points
  • James Young, over 4 years ago

    I'm possibly going to be on the lookout for someone to help out with design on a couple of new project wins soon and will definitely be wanting someone local or at least someone who can come into the office periodically during the project.

    We're happy with remote work for dev, it's an ongoing process trying to get everyone working smoothly but we've got 2 devs in the US and one in the UK remote and that's good.

    Design feels different though and productivity wise, more tends to get done face to face in many cases. which might be why there looks like a little dropoff in jobs?

    0 points