With a little bit of luck finally, I found a contract opportunity that let me work remote full-time. It’s been a year since I’ve been working remotely, and what better time than now to share my experience, ups and downs and how to work productively and efficiently.

It took me almost a year to find the right remote opportunity, considering my profession involves architecting user experiences for the mobile/web. And when it comes to UX, tons of collaboration and communication is required. But, in all honesty, I would say, I have never been so productive and efficient than now.

There’s a myth that goes: “working from home is all about doing household chores and taking care of the kids”; but I beg to differ. Working from home requires a lot of motivation, dedication and passion. Yes, these are the 3 most important ingredients that have helped me stay productive and efficient.

My Methodology

Requirement Gathering

I know this sounds like I’m talking about the design process, but as important this is before designing, it carries the same weight before beginning to work remotely.
What kind of requirements? If I am working for an agency or corporation, it’s very important I understand:

  • what is the project’s goal
  • what are the important links to the project
  • what are the deliverables required and timelines
  • what is the company’s design process
  • what are their design tools
  • how do they communicate with clients
  • how does the team communicate internally

Most important of all, to make all the above happen, I need to make sure I have time setup with the team I am going to work with to get accustomed to the way they work and the way that I work. It’s best to be aligned with the team and project from the beginning.

Communication

Communication is the key ingredient when it comes to remote working. As I am working on my own, I like to constantly communicate with the team where I am in the process, get feedback and share my progress.

In today’s time, there are so many tools for communication that have made working remote that much easier and productive:

  • slack – the go to tool
  • google chat – a good alternative
  • zoom – for video conferencing
  • email -mostly used for client communication and company wide announcements, etc.
  • Calendar – I can’t live without this since it let’s my team be aware of meetings and appointments
  • Google Drive/Dropbox -file sharing, backup and management

Collaboration

As I mentioned before, there are some jobs which require face-to-face collaboration and UX field being one. But, in my opinion, most of the time, we work in a distributed environment, where the designers, developers, PM’s, etc., could be in different time zones, states and countries all together. How would you collaborate then?

  • Travel to a common location once or twice depending on the project duration
  • Video Conferencing – Have impromptu meetings when the need be. With the advent of tools like Zoom, you can use features like whiteboarding, etc.
  • Slack – Slack can be integrated with 3rd party tools and out of the box it comes with useful features anyways. I make sure I share wireframes, sketches or anything that would help the team collaborate and communicate effectively.

Set up a Schedule

I can’t emphasize enough on the importance of setting up a work schedule and sticking with it. And in my honest opinion, this is directly related to having a passion for the work you do. I just love architecting experiences, and from the moment I am part of a project, I know what I have to do and how.

Usually when I am contracting, I know I have 8 hours in a day to work, and if the team is distributed, I’ll break down my hours accordingly. This makes collaborating and communicating that much more effective.

Don't skip lunch

Working remotely doesn’t mean that you have to skip lunch. There have been times when I’ve forgotten to grab lunch, and as far as I can say, that’s the worst thing to do to your self. Eating and drinking appropriately and on time will lead to being more productive.

Take Breaks

In these many years of working remote, I’ve learnt to take breaks, though sometimes, I do forget, but taking 5-10 minute of break 2-3 times in 8 hours, has helped me be way more productive. Set a timer, look outside (which helps reduce eye strain), meditate and you will be good to go.

Final Words

Working from home, remote, freelancing, whatever you’d like to call it, I’ve definitely learned to be more productive, motivated and way less distracted compared to an office environment. I’ve been able to get more high-quality work done. I now can’t imagine my life commuting to work for an hour and then end up having less work hours leading to less productivity.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this and find this useful, please don’t forget to share and add your comments and experiences on working remotely.