1. Hey, can you please introduce yourself?
Hey all, Nick Davies here. Currently running a bespoke branding/marketing studio (Untold Design) with my wife Kirby. Currently based in Perth, Western Australia, but considering a move to the country (the joys of remote working!).
I’ve been working remotely for about 3 years now and loving every moment. My goal with working remotely was to spend more time at home, so that’s where I primarily work, and we are lucky to have a dedicated space for my office.
While I am primarily a designer, I love everything about owning a business and it’s what I primarily spend my time doing. When not focussed on work, I love to spend time with my wife and 6-month old daughter whenever I can, and can’t sit at the computer without having a Twitch stream on. I love to play board games (primarily card based) and my guilty pleasure is watching TV (currently watching Masterchef Australia and Restaurants on the Edge).
2. What motivated you to choose remote working?
After 7+ years working as an in-house designer for a number of organisations, in an office every day, spending hours commuting to and from work, I finally made the decision to leave that all behind and focus on my own business, Untold Design.
I had just married and was looking forward to starting a family, which really fueled my desire to start something of my own, with the ability to work from home to give me the freedom to spend as much time with my family as possible.
Kirby and I are the kind of people that love to spend as much time as possible with each other, and had discussed our dream working situation from the start. With this in mind, Kirby made the decision to leave work completely in preparation for this, and it only took a few months of leaving her at home every day for me to also take the leap.
I also got to a point where my freelance work was starting to affect my ability to perform at my full-time position, which isn’t something I wanted. I was working from 8:30am till 5pm (if I was lucky) every day at my day job, and then from the time I got home until late most evenings on freelance projects. I had a choice to make on which way I wanted my career to go, and I chose my own business and working from home, and have never looked back.
3. What were your initial months like? Did it live up to your expectations?
As mentioned previously, I was lucky enough to have a very steady flow of freelance work coming in the door while I was working full-time, which made the transition to working from home very easy. We had a good amount of money coming in which meant we didn’t have to worry too much about finding clients, looking for work etc, and were able to enjoy the transition.
My previous place of work allowed us to work from home if needed, so it wasn’t a 100% new experience for me, but there were a few things that took a bit of getting used to, which I’m sure most people experience in this transition period.
- Waking up at an appropriate time (I’m not an early riser)
- Getting into a normal working routine (primarily putting limits on work vs family time)
- Eating properly (there was and still is a lot of toast being eaten)
- Getting out and about, exercising etc.
These are the primary struggles I faced when starting my remote career, but I found them great challenges to face and ones that I still sometimes struggle with (especially the getting out thing, especially with the restrictions around COVID-19.
Even with these challenges, I would certainly never go back and at this stage I couldn’t imagine returning to both working for someone else, and a traditional workplace.
4. How did you find remote working roles?
For me, the challenge was less about finding roles, and more about finding clients and in this, I was in a really good position going into working remotely, as I had a large pool of existing relationships from my previous roles, as well as existing clients, so the work just sort of flowed in organically without too much effort from my end (apart from just continuing to pump out good work).
With this, I found myself growing into a bit of a niche in the commercial real estate market, and word continued to grow around what I was doing via word-of-mouth. I’m in a bit of a weird position, where I work with real estate agents, who are working on behalf of their clients, and as long as the agents are happy with the work, and it continues to produce results, they are happy to keep coming back.
With the on-set of COVID-19, we were expecting and fully prepared to pivot into other sectors but have luckily found that the property industry is wide enough and has so many different facets, that we didn’t end up needing to.
5. What have been the best, good and worst aspects of remote working for you?
The best for me is by far the flexibility that remote working affords. The ability to work when I need to, and focus on other aspects of life in between, was really the main thing I wanted out of starting my own business and working remotely/from home. Spending the downtime during the day with my wife and daughter is something I cherish and understand that few people get to enjoy.
The good would be the fact that I don’t have someone looking over my shoulder, making sure I am working in the way that they feel is best. Instead, I get to work my own way, and I have the self-accountability as the owner of the business to keep me on track and ensure I am constantly improving and offering better service to my clients.
The hardest part for me mainly comes from the business side of things. I very much enjoy what I do, and find it hard to turn that switch off, as there is always something to think about, plan, improve etc. Whether this is related specifically to remote working, I can’t be sure, but we will assume it does!
6. What tools do you swear by while working remotely?
I try to be as streamlined as possible when it comes to my workflow so I have been on a search for the tool that suits me best when it comes to productivity, as I want to keep my job trackers, finances, note-taking etc. all in one tool.
I have transitioned over the years from relying on GSheet and Todoist, to Notion, to recently settling on Coda as my productivity tool of choice.
I am really enjoying Coda currently, as it allows for more robust tables, and the ability for the community to alter, hack and make things work as they want really works for me.
Apart from Coda, I use the following tools on a daily basis:
- Wave (finances)
- GSuite (email)
- Spotify (music)
- Youtube Premium (music/videos)
- Adobe Suite (design)
7. Your most exciting/ hilarious experience since you started working remotely.
For me, the most exciting thing has been being able to be with my daughter, watch her grow, and experience such a special period of time in a child’s life, without having to miss out on most of it by working in an office.
The funniest thing I have to deal with on a daily basis, is the general noises that accompany working from home. While we do have a dedicated office space in our house, it is unfortunately right next to the laundry room, and having a baby means a lot of washing, especially with cloth nappies! I now have a few clients that jokingly start every conversation asking if the washing machine is on.
8. What is your golden advice to a new remote worker?
My biggest piece of advice would be, if possible, to work full time for an organisation, in an office first. This will give you the opportunity to create meaningful relationships, have access to resources you may not have otherwise, as well as learn and grow in a safe environment, without the potential pressures that come with working remotely.
This will also give you perspective on what you really want out of your career. If you don’t try both sides, how will you know what works best for you? I was lucky in my job that I was able to work from home a few days a week, which allowed me to get a good feel of what it would eventually be like if I transitioned to full-time remote work.
Apart from this, I would say that having a dedicated place for your work helps immensely. It allows you to have a distinct separation between home and work, and will make it easier for you to make that distinction. Even the gesture of closing the door to your office at the end of the day can be a great feeling, knowing that your workday is over, and home life begins. It also helps if you have kids and setting boundaries that way.
9. How do you see your career shaping up and your goals?
At this stage, my career is pretty much tied to my business, and in this way, the future is mostly about where I want the business to go. My goals with the business are to expand by finding another person to join me on the journey, as the biggest bottleneck for me at the moment is time. This is both scary and exciting, as I am a very hands-on person, so it will require some letting go of the controls and giving whoever the person is the freedom to get exactly what they want out of working at Untold Design.
With this in mind, if anyone is interested in working with me, feel free to reach out (via email), especially those with design backgrounds and ideally real estate experience!
10. How do you expect remote working to evolve in the future?
With the forced restrictions that have been put in place due to COVID-19, I think we will see employers give their employees more freedom to work remotely/at home if they prefer and if their role suits it. They may also open recruitment to include remote workers.
With this in mind, there are some people that remote work just doesn’t suit, so I think it will still be a bit of an uphill battle for those in the more traditional sectors, wanting to work remotely.
11. Where can we follow you on?
I’m not the biggest social media user, but feel free to have a browse of our website: Untoldd
Follow me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicholasdavies_/
Or if you would like to get in touch, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org