Working with a Distributed Design Team

A common question we get is “where are you based?” However, instead of having a common office, we've joined a growing number of remote work companies such as IBM, Amazon and Basecamp who embrace technology to work as a distributed team. We currently range from New York to San Francisco, Austin to Seattle and work with clients throughout the US. 

When I first entertained the possibility of my own design studio, I could practically hear the heels clacking down the hallway, feel the soft leather on the Barcelona chair and smell the espresso after a madcap, all-night brainstorming session. 

However as technology has evolved, the face of design has also changed. Now we can send files to someone across the country as fast as we can send them to someone at the next desk while Slack keeps our team up to date on last minute client changes as well each other's vegetable gardens and vacation plans. Frankly the thought of going “into the office” grew not only less appealing but less useful.

This is not our office. But this is a Barcelona chair. Gorgeous, right?

This is not our office. But this is a Barcelona chair. Gorgeous, right?

First off, after having kids, work-life balance has become increasingly important to me. Design is a field known for burning people out with long hours and constant demands on their creativity. However ironically, every study on creativity points to the fact that the best ideas come from relaxation, letting your mind wander and having the time to juxtapose contrasting ideas. I feel that the best work come from designers who have space to enjoy life beyond their job. It's also hard to schedule creative inspiration and I feel strongly that allowing designers more control over their schedules allows for optimizing these moments of inspiration. I'd much rather reward efficiency and smart work than the ability to log endless hours at work.

Secondly, technology has revolutionized the tools available for remote work. I’ve been working remotely for clients for the last ten years and use a bevy of software tools that make collaboration simple and efficient, regardless of location. In fact, we’d probably use the same systems if we were in an office. Plus it's lovely to recruit the best designers with the jaw-dropping portfolio instead of making do with whoever is geographically convenient. 

...and sometimes even the phone!

...and sometimes even the phone!

The next thing I discovered is quite a few clients feel the same way. Whether they are working out of Manhattan offices where each square foot is a valuable asset or in Montana where high-end brand designers are few and far between, they care about quality and results move than being entertained in

So the design studio of my starry-eyed youth has been renovated. It’s still got the top-notch, passionate designers who love their craft but we are distributed across the country instead of huddled in an office.

Personally I think it's the future of work and if you're interested in discussing, I'd love to talk your ear off about it!

— Larissa, founder Float Design