A new age of business is here. Internet data speeds have got much zippier in the past decade, making remote working a reality. But does it work?
In short and for us: yes. Tech has allowed us to bring flexibility to our clients and staff. Transferring files from designer to printer is no longer a dial-up headache, with hundreds of applications making it quick and easy. Traditional face-to-face meetings are being exchanged for real-time video conferencing, over Skype and GoToMeeting. It all means time is spent productively rather than on the M5. We don’t need a vast office, but can stay in our modest little studio and take advantage of some fantastic online tools to keep in touch with freelancers as far afield as Sydney!
So what tools do we have?
First up, we needed a virtual job bag: all tasks in one place for everyone to access. For this we use Wrike, a fantastic work management tool, with clear job lists and scheduling. Every task, big or small, is on there, so it gives us an at-a-glance view of what’s on now and next, and lets me spot any potential workload problems that might creep in. Client specs, PDFs and images can all be attached, keeping our email inboxes nice and clean.
The ever-popular Slack takes care of all internal communications. It’s perfect for chatting through jobs with the right people in individually named channels ranging from the generic to the specific. We even have a channel for funny cat pictures.
Invision presents our work to clients, with their software suite that takes us from sharing first ideas to final drafts, allowing fast feedback and allowing us to work closer than ever before.
Dropbox is left to do the heavy lifting when it comes to storing and backing up our core files. We also use it for sharing big files with clients and printers.
All this has certainly improved our workflow. Specialists can now jump in as we need, as they’re available, and where they want. For example, Roddy may prefer to write a blog story late at night on his phone, high on the buzz of having just come off stage. Designers working office hours may not then get his lazy mornings, but even they don’t need to be in an office. Would a designer get more inspiration sat at a desk on the first sunny day of the year, or laid out on the grass with their laptop, soaking up the rays? Happy staff produce far better solutions to our clients’ problems.
When our Junior Designer Leanne came on board, I explained how I wanted everyone to be able to make a difference at Method and that she was welcome to work from coffee shops or home – she couldn't believe it! A big smile came over her face to greet our ripping up deskbound tradition.
Finding the blend of virtual and real that works for you is the key. In our industry nothing can replace human interaction because sitting round a table with tea and Sharpies will always take some beating. So we may not follow social media giant Buffer and scrap our office just yet. But our mixed model of fruitful remote working alongside a traditional studio really does work for us – flexibility is making us a better design team.