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A person working from a computer, managing multiple work tasks. Allie Gillebo

Designers Are Wired to Thrive in Remote Work Environments

Hi, my name is Justo. I am a product designer on the Concert team here at Vox Media, and I want to share with you why I think designers are wired to thrive in remote work environments.

As you may know, working remotely is being able to do your job from anywhere in the world. You’ll most likely need a laptop, a good WIFI connection, and a quiet place.

Our product team culture at Vox Media is remote-first, and our set of supportive teams and infrastructure made my transition extremely smooth when I joined the company. I have been working with distributed teams for over five years now, but working remotely was not something I had initially planned. It happened unexpectedly, and I genuinely believe that my experience in becoming a designer has helped quite a lot through the years.

So, are you a designer? Maybe you think of yourself as a designer? Or as a creative person that loves to make things and solve problems? If so, I believe that you could be great at working remotely.

Through the years, I’ve noticed that designers hold essential traits that help them thrive in remote work environments. Here are some of those traits:

Designers are disciplined and focused:

Designers have a lot of discipline. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to sound extra confident here, but becoming a successful designer alone takes discipline. Being a designer also requires a lot of focus.

The discipline and the focus that is required of a designer are invaluable attributes that shape the way we work with remote teams because a designer on a team has to examine information, explore opportunities, and ultimately design tangible solutions.

Designers know how to communicate:

When it comes to our work, we know that we have to be great verbal communicators. This is a skill we spend time building throughout our entire careers. Many of you have sharpened your communication skills through educational experiences, collaborating with coworkers, and even that one time, you helped out a friend on a zero-budget project.

We genuinely care about the way we communicate with our team, and we aspire to make sure our work is well understood because it can determine whether a project comes together or not. Communication within remote teams can be challenging, but I find it that being intentionally thoughtful with the way you share information with your team goes a long way.

Designers are motivated:

Designers are natural go-getters. It is in our DNA to take the initiative to get things done. From my experience, designers tend to be self-starters who know how to light the fire and get things going. When you work remotely, you spend a significant amount of time working away from your peers, and it is essential to have the drive to continue to work at times where you may not be collaborating with your team.

If you landed your ideal design job, and on your very first day, you are told that all the design tools in the world have disappeared except for Photoshop 2.0, you would jump right in and get things done. You’d figure out how to make Photoshop 2.0 work for you and your team. That is the kind of drive that will help you thrive in a remote work environment.

Designers know self-management:

Designers understand the importance of self-management. We live in a world where interruptions follow us around more than our shadows, but designers are critical of the way they manage their workload. We know how to identify distractions that hurt our productivity.

Being able to minimize interruptions that can get in the way of our work is a great skill to have to be a thriving designer in a remote environment.

Designers are perfectionists:

We love perfecting our work. We relish any opportunity that could allow us to take our work the extra mile. We love to over-deliver on our expectations and the expectations of our peers. We care deeply about the quality of our work and the positive impact that it brings to our teams, to the companies we work for, and the people that use the products we design. These are essential characteristics that designers have, which any collaborative team will always appreciate whether they work remotely or not.


All of that said, do you think remote work is for you?

Working remotely is not for everyone. Different teams, companies, and individuals have their preferences for productive work environments. But if you are a designer and you are thinking about working remotely, consider all of the inherent communication skills you’ve built over time. Remote work is here to stay, and maybe you are more ready for it than you think.

Thanks for reading!
– Justo

Thanks to Courtney Leonard for her thoughtful editing, and Allie Gillebo for her fantastic illustration.