Remote work within design teams

August 21, 2020

As great as it is, remote work can be challenging at times – for some teams more than others. Here is how we make it work for our design team.

Remote work is great for many reasons such as time flexibility, a better work-life balance, and faster access to the kitchen ;-)

Now that it’s become a necessity for many businesses, many people have found themselves struggling to make the switch or experienced a bit of a bumpy transition. In the IT world, remote work is nothing new, especially for developers that make up the largest group of remote workers. Design on the other hand is not as established in the remote work sphere. Why is that? The collaborative and visual aspects of the design can be challenging for remote designers. At SnipClip, we’ve been juggling remote and in-office work for many years – design team included. Here are some key points we’ve learned along the way.

Technology is your BFF 

The main challenge of remote work is collaboration. In the office, collaboration is as easy as taking a few steps to your colleague’s desk to discuss something or even working together on a project. When working remotely, this natural collaboration process is challenged by the lack of physical closeness. The answer to this comes in the form of various tools offering solutions to bridge the distance gap.

Messaging apps like Slack allow for constant communication with our colleagues – your colleagues are now only a few words away. 
Even better, many design tools like Adobe XD and Figma took collaboration a step further and now allow for real-time collaboration on design projects. You can jump along on the same project as your colleagues and literally design together.

You can also share your designs and prototypes online and get feedback from the rest of the team as you would during a presentation. And when messaging gets too complicated to describe your most creative ideas or you are frustrated by the limitations of your keyboard, then hop on a call to share your screen or use an online whiteboard tool. Of course, pen and paper are still ideal so don’t shy away from sharing a quick snap of your rough sketches to get the point across quickly.

Be on the same (project) page 

When working on the same project, take the time to agree on the same foundation and on the direction of the design. This is especially important as each will be working separately so as to avoid working on certain things only to find that they do not fit with your colleague’s solutions. Of course, having a design system or some pre-defined UI assets is in this case even more crucial. 

Having regular check-in or dailies to check on the progress of the design and raise any potential issues to discuss is of great help. Everyone on the team should know who is working on which task of the project. 

Keep your designs organized

It’s not helpful if you’re the only one that can understand and work with some design files or assets. To ensure a seamless remote work scenario, it is important that all design resources are kept organized and up to date. Ideally, make sure that you are storing and naming your files according to a standard company structure.

Also invest some time to clean up any mess that might have resulted from those long and focused design hours so that if a fellow designer has to jump in onto the same file, they can do so without feeling lost between layers of pixels.

Communicate again and again 

Communication is key to success, we all know that. However, for remote work, it can be a dealbreaker. It should always be the highest priority. The same goes for design teams – ask questions! Better too many than none so as to avoid any misunderstandings.

Keep it in the Cloud 

Cloud-based file systems are of great advantage to any remote team. Relying on cloud storage means that everyone is up to date without any effort spent on sending and receiving assets and files. Even better, having fully automated cloud storage. Without having to lift a finger, cloud storage tools take care of importing and exporting data between all team members, while you can focus on your work without having to worry about anything.

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