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Tips From a Remote Designer

Remote and hybrid work has increasingly become an option for employees since the COVID-19 pandemic first started. Many individuals across a wide range of professions work from home, but is it possible to do so as a designer or architect? Here are some tips for a more successful experience as a remote designer.  

Tip 1: Pace Your Workday

When you work from home, it can be easy to fly through your work in a short period of time because often your schedule is a bit more flexible. In an office environment, you might naturally stop your work at times to have a conversation with a colleague. Working remotely does not allow for these casual or spontaneous moments to occur throughout the day. Pacing can look like many different things, including taking breaks or setting a plan for what you need to accomplish that day or week. It can be getting up and going for a short walk after you finish a task or perhaps grabbing a quick snack.

Tip 2: Get Involved

Getting involved in your community is important as a designer in general, but it is essential when you work remotely. In creative and innovative fields like architecture, being in the know about what is happening in the profession, and having connections with others in the field can really set you up for success. There are many design-centered organizations that hold events for anyone to join. Doing so can allow you to feel like you are a part of something bigger when you work remotely.

Tip 3: Mix Things Up

This tip can really be said about anything in life, but when you do something repeatedly many times, you can start to feel stagnant or unmotivated. When you work from home, you are constantly in the same environment, so changing up your physical space can prove to be helpful if you are feeling stuck. For example, going to a local coffee shop is a great way to change up your environment. You can even do something as simple as working from another room in your house or getting a sit-stand desk to make your workday feel a bit different than your usual routine.

Tip 4: Connect with Other Designers

There are many successful architects and designers who work remotely yet are still very involved in their community and engaged in what is happening in the design world. One of those individuals is Liz Sydnor, principal of Sydnor Design, a multidisciplinary design studio in Phoenix, Arizona. Liz is a licensed architect and her firm offers graphic design, branding, social media branding and management, exhibit design, and interior design services. I asked her a few questions about her experience:

How is working as a remote designer different from working in an office? How is it similar?

Liz: Working remotely offers the flexibility to work from anywhere. I primarily work out of a shared co-working space, but at times, choose to work from home. I love having the option because I can mix up my week, and adjust my location according to what tasks need to get done. Working remotely is similar to working in an office because much of my day-to-day tasks are spent independently. Design takes a lot of research, reflection, and creative thinking, which I’d do alone both in an office setting and working remotely. My best work is done when I have time to process and create solutions on my own time. This isn’t to say I don’t love getting feedback and working with others at different stages of a project! 

What is an unexpected benefit of working remotely? What is an unexpected challenge?

Liz: For me, working remotely allows me to integrate my work throughout the day, in multiple work sessions vs. one long uninterrupted workday. I feel like I have a more balanced life working remotely. An unexpected challenge is the social aspect. Although I work well alone, I do miss having coworkers to bounce ideas around, and simply learn about them and their lives on a daily basis. 

What is one tip you would give to a designer working remotely or on a hybrid schedule?

Liz: I would say to make sure you have other social outlets or groups you can see on a regular basis. I joined a community-oriented gym, and being able to socialize and make connections has been so helpful for me. I also attend American Institute of Architects (AIA) events to get professional support that I wouldn’t be able to get on my own! 


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