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Best practices for managing remote designers in different timezones

long distance relationship cartoon

Have you ever been in a long-distance relationship?

Most of my friends say it is hard but possible. Long-distance relationships (LDRs) have a 58% success rate, according to research.

A couple who started dating personally will find it daunting to think about being apart from each other. Most of the couples nowadays met online and started dating even without meeting each other face to face.

Regardless of the couple’s origins, maintaining a long-distance relationship would need constant communication to be kept alive.

At Deer Designer, we keep our clients from all over the world happy with our designs even if they are miles away. Sounds a lot like an LDR, doesn’t it?

We’ve been managing long-distance client relationships for years. You might be new to this setup, so allow me to give you tips on how you can manage your remote designer even if you are in different time zones.

Challenges of managing remote designers in different time zones

Clients (well, people in general) crave answers for every question and reactions for every action. We all need peace of mind and assurance that someone is on it when we need it. Instant and constant communication is the major gap of having a designer work from a different time zone.

The best designs are most often made by teams, but finding a common time for a diverse design team is difficult.

Pop Quiz:

If some members of your team are in Japan, some in India, some in the UK, and you are in the US, when will you be able to find a common time for you all to meet online?

Answer: Never

remote employees cartoon

Dedicated design teams like Deer Designer follow a process that enables them to work in sync. If you are in a different time zone, you can sleep soundly knowing that your designs are well looked after.

And if there are loopholes, the team can troubleshoot amongst themselves and make sure that the designs are in your inbox the moment you wake up.

Establishing a collaborative, agile workflow with designers in different time zones

When you’re working with a remote designer, it is important to have a collaborative workflow and establish agile practices. A lot of the factors that contribute to this include time zone differences and the level of expertise between both parties.

Remotely managing a newbie designer is a headache. Handholding or training online, even though it’s becoming a trend, is still less effective than face-to-face training.

training remote staff cartoon

Since they work remotely, there will be times when your designers or employees may need extra guidance on something that was overlooked or not communicated properly. Regardless, there’s an agile workflow you can use and always set expectations from the beginning.

Setting expectations is important for a remote work setup to thrive. Designers are not robots and cannot just print out a design request in a flash. This is why for our clients, the average turnaround time is always communicated at the beginning.

Also, your design team needs your input and feedback most often in the first few weeks. As time goes by, they start learning your preferences and build a relationship with you. As a result, they end up designing your requests better and faster.

Best tools for managing a remote design team

Advancements in technology have not only made long-distance relationships possible — but even practical, according to The New York Post.

Remote design teams, when managed well, can be very productive and beneficial for the company. There are many tools out there to make this relationship smoother.

remote management tips for managers

Consistency in tools and software

All remote design teams should have a few basic things in common, such as the same version of the software and computer systems so that everyone is working in the same environment.

For instance, our designers work with Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop/Illustrator/ InDesign) as we have all our processes streamlined.

remote management tools

Recording and annotation tools

Many of our clients record a 3-5 minute video/screencast explaining their requests as they find it easier.

Recommended video recording or screen case tools:

Other ways of sending design requests are using bullet points or annotated images.

Recommended image-annotation tools:

Unified communication channel

Couples in a long-distance relationship have their preferred channel of communication. Some prefer a daily video call at night while winding down, some prefer romantic love letters over snail mail.

Whichever it may be, it suits the needs of the moment and they’ve agreed to it.

In a company, the management’s priority should be to ensure that all employees (working remotely or not) know how and when to use all communication channels for work and that they agree to constantly use them.

Distance is just a test of how far trust can travel

We know that it can be difficult to collaborate with designers that aren’t in your timezone. We hope that you can use these tips to work better with them remotely.

Surviving a long-distance relationship can be difficult too but remember, 58% of them do thrive.

There are 2 keys to a long-distance relationship’s success: (1) you and (2) your partner or your employee. Both have to do what it takes to make the relationship work, go the extra mile and close the gaps.

Most importantly, you have to trust each other, that each will keep their end of the bargain, online or offline.