A birds-eye view of someone working on a laptop.

How to work from home as a designer

By Ben Walker on 02 March 2021

As working from home continues to be the norm for many, we’re turning to our design team for some words of wisdom.

We sat down (virtually, of course) with Sarah Vance and Sarah Tucker to reflect on how they’ve adapted to working from home during the pandemic and discuss the changes they expect to see in the design industry going forward.

So, without further ado, let’s hand over to Vance and Tucker…

What have you found to be the biggest challenge of working from home?

  • Tucker: It has to be the lack of face-to-face interaction. Although we can speak to one another virtually, it can be easier to bounce ideas off someone or ask them a question in person instead of scheduling a meeting.
  • Vance: Not having a dedicated workspace has been a challenge for me. I work at my dining table and need to accommodate a big screen and space for writing and sketching, as well as storage for putting everything away.

A close-up of a designer creating a storyboard.

Has anything made the transition to working from home easier?

  • Vance: Yes, as a team we were already working from home one day every week to reduce our carbon footprint, which made the transition as seamless as it could have been and prevented any downtime.
  • Tucker: I agree, it was extremely helpful to already have a set up in place before the pandemic. Our Creative Director, Ben, has also ensured we have all of the equipment we need to make working from home as comfortable and effective as possible, like our office chairs, screens and Pantone books.

How do you make your workspace work for you?

  • Vance: Our living room is now essentially an office, gym and living space, making it even more important to implement boundaries. I’ve experimented with different routines to figure out what works for me. Before the weekend I store all of my work equipment away and, minus my screen, do the same every evening during the week. I also extend my dining table to maximise space and use an office chair to help with posture.
  • Tucker: Although I live with three people and one of my flatmates works from home, I’m lucky to have the living room to myself during working hours, which has made me conscious of keeping my workspace tidy. Although I can’t compete with the Firefly studio, I’ve surrounded myself with plants and have positioned my desk by the window to make sure I’m getting lots of natural light.
  • Vance: I also have plenty of plants and candles to create a relaxed atmosphere!

A work-from-home owrk space, with a desk, computer screen, and other office equipment/

How have you maintained good communication with the rest of the Firefly team and clients?

  • Vance: I think our communication with clients has become even more effective and productive, as access to platforms like Teleport, Microsoft Teams and Zoom removes potential barriers that come with meeting face to face, like travel and time constraints.
  • Tucker: I’ve been amazed at how quickly the team and clients have become comfortable with video calls – it’s something I’d have found daunting this time last year. As a team we use the AnywhereWorks app every day to send messages, images and files, and have collaborations dedicated to different projects.
  • Vance: We also have a weekly team video call to catch up on our workflow and have managed a few virtual get togethers outside work – we recently organised a Christmas quiz and homemade pizza night!

Two woman chatting at an office desk.

Are there any apps or software that are helping you to stay organised and productive?

  • Vance: As a team we use shared Google Docs for work in progress to make sure nothing gets lost in translation. It may sound simple, but our calendar has been vital for managing our schedules now that we’re not seeing each other in person.
  • Tucker: I use Trello for managing my workflow and staying on top of different projects. Great background music has also been key, so I’ve used Spotify a lot over the past year.

Have you noticed any changes in the creative projects’ clients are commissioning?

  • Tucker: We’ve produced a lot of digital work recently, including assets that haven’t been requested before, like backgrounds for Microsoft Teams. I’ve also noticed a shift towards digital brochures instead of print and brands focusing more energy on social media to communicate with their audience.
  • Vance: Many of our clients have embraced video content. An example is using video to communicate with attendees at online events that would have been delivered in person. It’s not surprising, as it provides an incredibly quick and engaging way to convey a message or tell a story.

A woman at a desk in an office.

Working from home can blur the boundaries between work and personal life. What helps you to maintain a healthy balance?

  • Vance: I’ve found implementing a morning routine very helpful. Most mornings before work I try to write in my journal, meditate and maybe do some yoga. Setting aside some time for myself before jumping into work helps to set the tone for the day.
  • Tucker: Without the physical action of packing up and commuting, it can be difficult to know when to stop working. I find getting outside for some fresh air, even if it’s just for a quick walk, helps to create clear boundaries around working hours. Some mornings I go for a sea swim, which always starts my day on a positive (yet freezing) note.
  • Vance: I try to go for a walk during my lunch break to make sure I’m spending time away from my screen. The fresh air always helps to clear my head.

Have there been any unexpected benefits of working from home?

  • Vance: It’s great to have more time in the mornings and evenings when I’d usually be commuting and never missing deliveries is definitely a bonus!
  • Tucker: Does wearing comfy clothes all day count? I’ve also enjoyed making meals from scratch or going for a walk or run during my lunch break.

How do you think the design industry will change as a result of the pandemic?

  • Tucker: I think that when we’re able to work in studios again, many people will choose to continue working from home, at least in part. As we’ve become increasingly dependent on apps over the last year, I also think we’ll see many continue to develop and adapt to suit the challenges of remote working.
  • Vance: For countless agencies working overtime is the norm, so I hope we’ll see greater flexibility across the industry and better work life balance. As people have embraced remote working and location isn’t perceived as an issue, I think there’ll be scope for agencies to work with more clients internationally. Similarly, as many agencies know how effective working from home can be, I think they’re more likely to be open to employing designers who don’t live locally.
  • Tucker: We’ve also seen live events, workshops and courses migrate online. Although your screen can’t replace an in-person event, it provides an opportunity to learn and get inspired. They’re also arguably more accessible, as they don’t require the same investment of time and money and aren’t limited to a specific location. I hope we’ll see this trend continue.

What are you most looking forward to at Firefly in 2021?

  • Vance: Number one has to be getting the team back together, whether that’s working in the studio or even just going for a walk. I’m also really looking forward to the launch of the new Firefly brand. We’ve been working on it for a long time, so it’ll be great to see all of our hard work come together.
  • Tucker: I’m also excited to launch the new Firefly brand and see where it takes us in the future, and of course I can’t wait to reunite with the team.

There you have it – we hope this insight into how our designers have adapted to working from home has provided inspiration and ideas for fellow creatives facing similar hurdles.

If you’d like to read more on this topic, our Top tips for working from home delve into some of the tried and tested practices that have helped our team to adjust to this way of working, whilst looking after our wellbeing.

Let's work together +

If you would like to find out more about Firefly and how our ideas, experience and creativity could make a real difference to your business, please complete the form or call us on:

+44 (0) 131 510 8260

Required field *

How will we use your data?

Almost there

It would be great to learn a little more about what you want to achieve and get an idea of the budget for your project.

Required field *

How will we use your data?

“Firefly has been an absolute joy to work with. We commissioned them to create a promotional animation for us and on seeing the storyboard, we were so impressed with the work they did that we ended up contracting them to design a series of printed materials too.

Creative, friendly and responsive, they’ve truly delivered on what we asked for and more. We had a very tight turnaround on our project and they made it all happen in good time. I wouldn’t hesitate to use them again.”

Steph Wright
Project Development Manager
Cancer Innovation Challenge

View project