Since October last year, I actually have been working remotely. In addition to doing my Master’s degree in London, I support the Rays in the B2B team in Munich.
This would be ideal for me, I thought; I could continue working in UX in addition to studying. I hadn’t really thought much about the topic “remote” yet.
What is it really like?
It’s actually not very different from everyday life in the office. Only that I work alternately from home, from university or on the road. I enter the hours when I am available for the team – and try to be in one place – if possible – during these times (mainly due to Wi-Fi and the availability of tea and coffee).
Everything else is flexible, as it also is during on-site work on a project. This is ideal for me, because I have almost the same everyday project life at university and can switch back and forth as required.
One of my favourite places to work is the Picton – the Postgrad Café at university. The atmosphere there is almost like in a co-working space. Many people are concentrating on their work, people meet to exchange ideas on projects, and you always find at least one familiar face to drink coffee with.
There are plenty of co-working spaces in the city. We have already met for project work on the Google Campus and in the Impact Hub. Both are great co-working spaces. Spending the day there and, above all, working on projects together is a nice change!
What I learned
1. Without the team, it doesn’t work
The fact that working from London functions at all is due to the B2B team. I can freely allocate my time, the team is also super flexible, and we communicate a lot. As a result, communication has also changed, at least on my side. My communication is much more targeted in all aspects, whether it’s a matter of short status updates or whether we want to quickly discuss the solution to a problem – and you pick up the phone faster.
2. You can also make calls with an iPhone
As a member of Generation Y, talking on the phone is not one of my favourite activities. Still, one of the first (and best!) things I’ve done here was to get a flat rate for the German fixed network. Now I make a lot of phone calls – it’s faster than writing e-mails, and it usually clarifies more than 100 messages in teams – and you get to hear your colleagues again.
3. Planning, planning, planning
My work behaviour has also changed. I plan more, including my university tasks. During the delivery phases, I rediscovered Kanban in order to stay organised and on track in all areas.
Still, there are piles of notes, printed papers, and post-its on my desk. Things don’t always work completely perfectly.
4. Messenger & video conferencing – a love-hate relationship
The changeover to Teams made things much easier for me – quickly writing to colleagues, not writing e-mails, and above all, screen sharing without booking a large Webex – a dream! Many things can be shown better than explained and you can spontaneously postpone an appointment with ease – if the technology functions!
That’s the only thing that frustrated me: when everything was organised and then the connection wouldn’t work. For longer travel periods, I would definitely purchase a data SIM card in the future.
5. Your time is my time
One thing I haven’t found in any article yet is dealing with time zones. When it comes to making appointments, everything is based on what time it is in the office (CET). This has somehow established itself without any need for coordination, which is much easier than always talking about “your time” or “my time”.
It may seem like a small point, but when I first moved to London, it took me a while to figure out “how late is it here?” – and then translate that into what time it would be in the office … and the appointment is at such-and-such o’clock … then it will be such-and-such o’clock here …”
Will work only be remote in the future?
During my time in London, I learned that I like to work flexibly, even on the road, and that Ray Sono is already in a great position when it comes to remote working. Especially when it comes to tools and support.
However, especially in the UX sector, it is important for me to work directly with colleagues and customers, preferably also in analogue, with post-its and paper.
For the future, therefore, I can imagine a good mixture of both: a fixed place where I can work in peace – and the freedom to not be there if I want to change locations.