With more and more companies moving to remote working environments, you’re probably asking yourself, can graphic designers work from home?
Now more than ever graphic designers have the opportunity to work from home or wherever they want in the world. While many companies in the past required their designers or teams to be on-site. That is no longer the case. Companies are now allowing designers to work from the comfort of their homes and sometimes even outside of the country.
While working from home can sound like an absolute blast. And in my opinion, it is. It also requires a level of discipline whether you’re working with a team or your own clients. In this article, I’ll go over some of the benefits of working from home, how to be the best graphic designer while working from home, where to find more remote jobs and some tools that will help you while you are working from home.
Why Can Graphic Designers Work From Home Now?When the COVID pandemic began to hit the United States and other countries in January of 2020, it forced companies to keep their employees home to avoid contracting and spreading the virus. While graphic designers have always had the opportunity to work from home depending on if they were working independently or if their company allowed it. The COVID pandemic caused a major shift amongst the largest companies in the world forcing those companies to adapt to a remote working environment. This change has now made working from home for designers more available and more normal across the board. Many companies have realized that working from home has allowed their employees to be more productive while also maintaining a more balanced lifestyle. Companies have even stated that they have been able to save money by allowing their employees to work from home. This has created a big opportunity for designers as more jobs are listed with the option to be fully remote.
Benefits Of Working RemoteWorking remote or from your home may be the new normal and there are a ton of benefits that come along with it. I can attest to some of these as I had previously worked remote before COVID. Three years later I have taken full advantage of the remote working lifestyle and started traveling around the world all while working a full-time job, writing, and creating content. Here are some of the benefits I have found while working remote.
Owning Your Morning RoutineWorking remote or from home can allow you to establish and own your morning routine. For me, waking up for work in the morning used to consist of taking a quick shower, packing lunch, and rushing to catch the train with other morning commuters. Now my morning routine includes taking some time to exercise, completing a few personal errands, and learning something new before actually starting my full-time job. My new morning routine is now less stressful without having to rush out of my apartment allowing me to feel more comfortable before starting my workday. I am also very much a morning person and love getting that time back to do what I want.
No Wasted Time CommutingAs I mentioned before, in the morning I would rush out of my apartment to catch a train into New York City. From there I would catch two more subway trains, get off, and walk to the office. This usually took around an hour if all the trains were working correctly. If there were any train delays you could easily expect the commute to become 1-2 hours. This was done twice a day commuting back home to my apartment. In total, I was spending anywhere from 2 to 4 hours commuting. Standing on crowded trains, either listening to a podcast or thinking about work tasks. I don’t know about you but I value my time immensely and while I do enjoy listening to podcasts I much more enjoy working on those ideas. Those 2-3 hours spent in transit could have been spent putting the metaphorical pen to paper. Now that I am working remote, there is no wasted time commuting. I can now sit and concentrate without being distracted with the thought of leaving the office or rushing to catch a train and you can do the same working remote.
Saving MoneyNo commute means no wasting money on train tickets, subway cards, and office lunches. That means more money back in my pocket. I love to cook, hence the name Wellfed, and I have taken the opportunity to do more food shopping and cooking at home so I can save even more money. The money I save can now be used for items for my home office, treating myself to some takeout, paying bills, or saving for the future. And we all know how important saving for the future can be. As a designer, if you don’t have a full-time job providing you a regular paycheck you are left having to work on client projects which can be irregular. Working remote can help you save for many aspects of your life especially if you have long periods in between client projects.
Family TimeSomething I realized during the pandemic was that spending time with family and loved ones can be taken for granted. When you are living on your own, it can be to forget that your family and friends are there. With working remote all of that valuable time saved from commuting can now be spent with your family, friends, and loved ones. Rather than planning your commute back from the office, you can arrange to meet friends out. I happen to now live with my parents after moving away from the city and get to have dinner with my family every night. This may not sound like such a huge benefit but as I grow older I realize that there are very few things that matter in this life and I would say family time is one of those that do.
Overall HealthWhile I used to believe that I enjoyed my morning commute because it got me out and moving from my apartment, this is no longer the case. After some time I realized that commuting was actually somewhat stressful for me. I can remember a sense of anxiety thinking about what would happen if my director or boss emailed me while on the train and I wasn’t able to respond to it. In addition to having an elevated level of stress, I’ve now realized that I would be sick multiple times throughout the year. I attribute this to commuting on a crowded train and contracting germs during the colder seasons. While it sounds like I’m becoming a hermit while working remote, not having to deal with a cold every three months or so and feeling healthier than ever has been awesome. Less time being sick in bed means more time I can spend with friends, working on my podcast, or finding new clients. While some may miss the hustle and bustle of commuting into an office for work, I have come to enjoy the time gifted back to me by working remote as a graphic designer.
How To Be An Amazing Graphic Designer While Working From HomeWhile working from home or remote as a graphic designer sure does have its benefits, with such great power comes great responsibility. To become an amazing graphic designer while working from home, there are four things you need to focus on. A solid design portfolio website, great communication skills, project management, and building trust with your clients or team. If this list sounds scary, don’t worry, these are all things that I’ve learned over time and you can too. It may take some practice but eventually, you will see that keeping these four points as the top qualities or traits you value as a graphic designer working from home will contribute to a successful career. In this next section, I’ll go over each point in-depth and how you can apply them to your design practice to become an amazing graphic designer while working from home.
Solid Design Portfolio WebsiteIf you have read any of the articles on this website then you know that I always talk about how important your design portfolio website is. Your design portfolio website is the number one tool that will carry you to success along your design career. Whether that is working within a company, working for yourself, working from home, or remote. Maintaining your design portfolio website is and will always be a priority. Making sure your design portfolio website contains updated projects of recent work aligned with the type of clients you want to work with is just one of the many pieces to a top-notch design portfolio website.
Great Communication SkillsI firmly believe that what separates good designers from amazing designers is communication. Communication is what allows clients and companies to understand that you are more than just a talented pair of hands. It helps them understand that your ideas can be the solution to their problems. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite design mentors. Paul Rand, Natasha Jen, Bobby C. Martin, Michael Bierut, Paula Scher, and Brian Collins. Whenever I watch a lecture or listen to a podcast episode from them, I am amazed by the way they can articulate the impact design can have for their clients. Design is more than just simplified logos and pretty layouts. That is also why I started the podcast in the first place. So I could better understand how design can make a difference in our lives. If you haven’t listened to it you can check out all the episodes here, or on Apple Podcast or Spotify.
With all of that said, becoming a great communicator while working from home involves more than just talking a lot. It involves listening and responding so that your clients know you are on their side and they can rely on you to solve this problem. While it is helpful to have the confidence to drive the conversation along, it is equally valuable to remain quiet and just listen. Not only will listening to your clients benefit you by capturing their thoughts and ideas, but it also gives you the time to respond with thoughtful questions that can unlock missing pieces from your project.
Project ManagementProject management is something that I used to think I would never deal with as a designer and that I would leave those responsibilities to an actual project manager. Psst...no surprise here but I was wrong. Project management is a big part of being a graphic designer whether you are working from home or not. Managing your time as well as your client’s time during campaigns is important. One thing that I have started to do in all of my client projects is to set a complete meeting calendar at the beginning of each project. While some dates or meeting times may change, ultimately this helps me better manage multiple project timelines simultaneously. I include this calendar in my project proposals for all my clients and it has really helped me stay organized and grow as a graphic designer working from home. If you would like to give it a spin for your projects you can download my project proposal template here.
Building TrustThe last and final piece to becoming an amazing graphic designer while working from home is building trust with your clients. Building trust can be done throughout working with your clients but it can also be established before new projects. Adding client testimonials is a great way of establishing trust before working with new clients and something I talk more about in this article when building your design portfolio website. To build trust while working with your clients, you can do a few simple things that I have found impactful.
Use A Video CameraWorking from home means that you will be using a tool like Zoom or Google to conduct your video calls. With that, I recommend making sure that you are using your video camera at all times. Being seen and showing your face displays that you are attentive to your clients and you are listening which again is very important. When you are not on video, it can easily be thought you are not paying attention and potentially doing other tasks rather than focusing on your clients. Sure there may be some days where you are not feeling your greatest and everyone has those. Make sure you communicate that to your client but if possible try to make sure you are showing your face on camera.
Go Above and BeyondI’d like to think that this point doesn’t need much explanation but going above and beyond for your client whenever possible can do wonders for you. Not only does it build trust with the client but it can also set you up for future work referrals or additional projects from the same client. However, it is important to do so within your comfort level and within the budget, you have set with your client.
Where To Find Graphic Design Work From Home JobsWith this newfound way of digitally working due to the pandemic, finding graphic design work from home jobs is a lot easier. Not only are companies more willing to work with designers that aren’t in the same area as their offices. More and more companies are also hiring distributed teams made up of talent from all over the country. Only time will tell to see if this continues but for now, many companies are seeing an increase in productivity and output from their teams while working from home.
Ian Ransley DESIGN
Ian Ransley is a Bay Area Graphic Designer and Illustrator who has designed some of the most popular large-scale sporting and corporate events in the world.