Before remote design was “the new thing,” designers would relocate to advance. Not just a promotion, but for better pay, better benefits, and stability for the long term. While remote offers flexibility in everything from scheduling to attire, it lacks one thing—proven stability. In the last downturn, remote designers weren’t a major consideration when cutting costs, because the few out there were among the best of the best. Today, remote can be anywhere from intermediate to advanced, and that will affect what happens in the next downturn. If it occurs sooner than later, remote will be in the first wave of layoffs. If the next downturn isn’t for several years, remote will be more ingrained in company culture and more stable. Out of sight, out of mind is still a concern though. So, if stability isn’t your concern because you’re one of the best, you’re probably safe. If not, consider finding some job security before the next downturn hits.
Some would think that grinding out 20 years at your current company, with minimal advancement and annual incremental pay raises, is the way to security. If you think that longevity is key, you may be whistling past the graveyard. With an average tenure of less than 5 years for designers, thanks to the Great Recession, and the vast number of designers going remote, this trend will likely not get any better in the near future. So, what can a designer do, short of staying put and hoping to be valuable enough to be one of the last to go in a downturn? Put a 5-year career plan in place and, if you don’t see promotion potential in your current job, consider changing jobs, even if it means relocation.
Career-oriented people who have a plan will put relocation on the table, if it makes landing that next step in their career happen sooner than later. I am constantly told that Millennials are too close to their parents, friends, and social network to make it on their own if they relocate. Is my location, family, friends, and social network so important that I will sacrifice my career growth and ability to provide for my family? When you put it that way, different answers emerge. Why relocate? Because it’s returning as the Fast Track way to advance.
With so many designers wanting to be remote, companies have a vacuum in the office. Fewer designers in the office means fewer people to mentor and develop into the next superstars and leaders. With so few designers relocating, and many internal designers pushing for remote, employers are offering more for people who will relocate and work in the office. Soon, the cheapest designers will be the vast pool of unemployed remote designers who will take anything to get work, probably making less than they made before going remote. With companies that have the support of industry’s biggest software providers, like Platinum Global in Vietnam, truss design may become a commodity.
Where will your remote job be in 5 years?