Amy and Jennifer Hood are known for a lot of things. They are the co-founders of Hoodzpah design, and they’re also great designers in their own right. They teach college courses, they design products, and they serve as inspiration for designers across the web.
But wait, there’s more.
These two are not only brilliant creatives, but they’re also twins.
Recently, Josh Miles sat down with Amy and Jennifer Hood on his podcast, Obsessed With Design, to learn more about what makes them tick. One of the more striking components of the conversation revolved around remote work. Hoodzpah is located in a home-office, allowing Amy and Jennifer to work basically whenever they want, but that presents problems for hiring a staff. That’s why they decided to grant their staff the ability to work remote three days a week. This means that the entire team meets twice a week, and outside of those meetings, you can work wherever and whenever you want.
This sounds great, but collaborating on creative work can be really difficult if you can’t get everyone in the same room. After years of working remotely, however, Amy and Jennifer Hood have perfected the system. In our interview, they provided tips to help creative workers, like designers, work remote more effectively.
If you’re doing remote work on a regular basis, it can be easy to wall yourself off from the world. Part of the reason people enjoy going into an office is because of the built-in social interaction. It’s why entrepreneurs and consultants go to co-working spaces. It’s why retirees get bored. Especially if you’re a creative worker, it’s important to keep yourself fresh and socially active, even if you work from home every day. Not only will your work be better, but you’ll probably smell better, too.
“It does make you realize that unless people are around, you look like a homeless person all the time,” Amy Hood told us about working from home every day.
Hygiene isn’t the only reason to seek people out. It’s important to seek constant feedback from people who you trust to criticize your work. If you’re not in an office every day, it can be really hard to get that level of feedback.
“It’s easy to get into the rut of ‘Everyone loves what I do.’ You should always get outside feedback,” Amy said. That lack of feedback can be disastrous in a career that is dependent on your constant evolution. As Jennifer said, “It’s a dangerous thing to your brand when you think you’ve always done it right.”
Too many remote workers want to leverage 50 tools to get their job done. Admittedly, it’s easy to over-use technology when that’s your primary mode of communication, but it can make life markedly harder for everyone else around you. Instead, try to limit the number of technology platforms as much as possible. If you could restrict communication, file sharing, and project management to five platforms or fewer, you’re less likely to have communication issues.
“Everything’s on Skype,” Jennifer said of Hoodzpah’s tech use. When in doubt, keep it simple.
Arguably the biggest reason people don’t work remote often already is because of communication issues. For some, it may be a fear that working remote sends the wrong message to their team. For others, it may be a concern that their boss will think they’re slacking off. You can overcome this issue by being consistent, communicative, and considerate.
It’s important to remain consistent in both availability and quality of work when you’re out of the office. If your quality of work decreases when you’re away, it’s really hard to justify letting you work remotely. Fortunately for Hoodzpah, they haven’t had much of an issue in that department. “If we prepare them well enough at the beginning of the project, it’s pretty easy,” Jennifer said. Part of that is due to effective management by Amy and Jennifer and part of it is due to their employees being great remote workers.
It’s also important to stay open to communication. Even if you are working, if someone can’t get a hold of you at 2 PM, that’s a problem. Make sure you’re being considerate to your coworkers, boss, and employees when you’re out of the office and responding promptly to any communications.
Finally, it’s important for everyone who works remote to find the best option for them. Some may be morning birds, others may be night owls. Some may have to be “on call” whereas others may be able to go off the grid for hours at a time. No matter your circumstances, it’s important to figure out when and how you do your best work and optimize for that. Also, always remember that this is a trade off. “It sounds terrible, having your boss text you,” Jennifer said, “but it’s a pretty good trade off. You can work from anywhere you want.”