Designers, full-time or freelance, are in a better position than many right now. The nature of our jobs mean we can do everything from the comforts of home. Communication, design work, proofing, file send off, and collecting payment; it can all be done remotely thanks to our ever-evolving technology. Remote graphic design jobs are certainly the ideal right now, but there are still things you need to know if you’re looking for a design position you can do from anywhere. This is because while your tasks are the same, the job itself won’t be.
The five things you need to know about remote graphic design jobs are how to find one, what they’re like, what’s different, the benefits, and the work/life balance. Here’s a bit more about each to prepare yourself.
How To Find Remote Graphic Design Jobs
It’s probably one of the biggest things Googled in 2020 and 2021. Remote jobs and where to actually find them. In reality, finding remote graphic design jobs isn’t too much different than how we’ve been finding jobs for the last decade anyway. We don’t search in the newspaper or peer at studio windows; we go online, submit a resume, cover letter and portfolio, then wait to hear back.
The biggest difference is that your search won’t be limited by an exact location, though you might have a time zone preference. Additionally, some companies will only hire remote workers from certain countries, regardless of if there is a language barrier or not. For this reason, it’s best to look for remote jobs from companies in your country and time zone first.
To physically find remote graphic design jobs, LinkedIn might be your best bet to find jobs that are legit. LinkedIn has a lot of criteria for you to search for, so type in remote and see what comes up.
What A Remote Design Job is Really Like
What a remote graphic design job is actually like, in the day-to-day, really depends on the company and your job. But overall, it’s not going to be too different from a traditional job. If you would normally meet with your team in the morning, you would do this via video chat instead, or potentially devolve the entire meeting into one long email, depending on the topic.
You’ll likely put a larger amount of time and energy into whatever project management software your company is using, and you might have to put more effort into tracking your project hours through the day. Due to the large shift in remote work, many employers are using time tracking software. Agencies have been using time tracking software for years to manage their designers’ time, but it’s never been something that designer’s enjoyed dealing with. With the large amount of remote work, employers panic and start thinking they need to track absolutely everything to make sure no one is slacking off. I’m of the view that if projects are being completed on time, time tracking is unnecessary.
One company I know of, fortunately not a design agency, gave all staff webcams that were required to be on at all times. Whether they were in a meeting or not. In people’s homes. I think that’s taking things too far. If a company tries that on you, look for a new job. That’s a company that doesn’t trust its workers.
Check out my post on Employers Monitoring Employees if you want to learn more.
What’s Different in a Remote Design Job
The biggest change from working in-person will probably be the social aspects of your job. When you’re physically working next to someone you often get to know them pretty well. You know a bit about their life, how they work, and what they’re like as a person. Removing the physical office can get lonely pretty quick and your job ends up being 100% about the work. This is kind of a shame, because the best part of any job is the people.
Another thing you may not consider is that if you jump in to a remote design job where the rest of the staff are also remote, it’s better than if only a few people (or just you) are. Everyone is in the same boat in regards to the lack of socialization, troubleshooting technical issues, and share any grievances about how certain video calls could have been emails. Alternatively, if there are only a few remote workers, and you’re one of them, the company dynamic and culture sort of exists without you. In an office with only a few remote workers and mostly in-person staff, those remote workers are much more likely to be passed over for promotions in favor of the in-office people that managers and the CEO may see and talk with everyday. Alternatively, when everyone is remote, it’s an equal playing field.
Benefits of Working Remotely
I honestly believe that despite the lack of socialization and physical office perks, working remotely as a graphic designer can be an ideal scenario. I also think it’s the way a lot of jobs and education will be headed in the future.
The main benefit to remote graphic design jobs, and all remote jobs for that matter, is location.
As long as you have a fast internet speed, a good computer, and gear for video calls, you’re all set to work wherever in the world you want. Work near family, on acreage, at an all-inclusive resort, or just somewhere you can afford an actual home instead of a 500 square foot condo. Plus, all that time spent on the commute to work could instead be spent doing much more valuable things like spending time with your kids, learning new skills, or just getting more sleep.
There’s also the benefit of making your office whatever you want it to be. I mean physically making wherever you have your desk and creative space to reflect your personality, creativity, and how you actually function as a designer. Not all designers spend 100% of their day at a computer. Maybe you also want an art table setup with some great lighting or an excessively loud stereo that blasts European power metal while you work. You can do that working remotely.
The Work/Life Balance
At many design agencies there already isn’t much of a work/life balance. You’re expected to answer emails, texts, and respond to any urgent tasks 24/7. This isn’t the case with all companies, but it is something design agencies, specifically, are known for.
Unfortunately, when you throw in working remotely, the line between your working life and your home life is all but erased.
You’re able to do more household management tasks in your day-to-day and schedule things like doctor and dental visits around meeting times, which is really great. Unfortunately, designers often end up trading this for working long hours into the night because they never actually leave the office and there is always more to do. Employers also have an easier time asking designers to do rushed tasks outside of their normal working hours because of this.
Overall, I don’t really have an issue with the occasional overtime hours. It’s part of a career as a graphic designer, but only to a point. Don’t take advantage of the remote working and don’t let your employer take advantage of it either. At some point calculate the actual hours you’re working per week and make sure your hourly wage is where it should be. For instance, if you’re making $50,000 a year but working 80 hour weeks, you’re effectively being paid $12.02 an hour and doing the work of two full-time designers.
Remote Graphic Design Jobs – In Summary
Whether all design jobs can be remote or not is really being put to the test right now, thanks to the pandemic. Obviously, if you’re looking for a more print production oriented design job, you might not have any luck finding something remote since you’ll be required to work onsite. Outside of production jobs though, it’s likely that all other graphic design and design-adjacent jobs (illustrator, motion designer, etc.) can be remote as well. Some employers do still need some convincing though.
Are you currently looking into remote graphic design jobs? Why do you want to work remotely? Do you prefer working in-person to working remotely? Let me know in the comments below!