Can you introduce yourself?
I’m Daniel Korpai and currently, I’m working as a product designer at InVision to help designers, product managers, and engineers collaborate better together.
Looking at my background, I have a bit different educational record than most designers, since I studied international business with marketing psychology. So we could say I had nothing to do with design during my educational years in university. However, I’ve been obsessed and passionate about gadgets since my early childhood, especially with phones and touch screen devices since the early days of PDAs (who can remember those, right?).
As I grew up with these devices and read basically every review of them, using them was my second nature. But I remember when I first discovered the fact that my parents and other friends who weren’t into tech, couldn’t figure out how to use these devices at all. Probably this was the first time when I thought about user experience, way before the term UI and UX was born.
After the introduction of the first iPhone and then later the App Store, I started writing reviews of iOS apps (more than 300 reviews a year), mostly criticizing them for their difficult and confusing user interfaces. I believe criticizing without providing some alternative solutions is useless, so I started designing my own ideas and watched tutorials day and night. I still remember the summer afternoon when I first read about UI and UX after a Google search and basically, I disappeared that summer in my room trying to catch up with everything design-related in a couple of weeks. Ever since then, I’m trying to combine design with business, marketing, and psychology to provide the best possible user experiences.
How did you start working remotely and why?
Basically, I’ve been working remotely in my entire life. Over the years working as an independent designer remotely I experimented certain ways how to find my most productive workflows and schedules that work for me.
Although I love the ability to work from anywhere and choose my own clients and projects, around the end of 2017 I had this feeling of lacking focus, even if I only worked on a maximum of 2–3 projects at a time.
I had this desire to focus on one product and make it as awesome as possible and after I’ve been thinking about this for a while, I’ve decided to join InVision, which is a 100% remote company.
What is your typical day like?
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of articles in which people write down their daily activities to the minute (of course often without any breaks or transition time between activities) and you as a reader feel embarrassed how little you do compare to these “super successfully and productive” people.
So I’ll try to provide a bit more realistic insight into my daily schedule and also keep in mind that this is my ideal schedule, which sometimes gets hijacked by unexpected events.
I usually try to wake up around 8 o’clock (I’m definitely not an early riser) and do a quick workout and breakfast before 10:00. I have my first creative deep work session between 10:00 – 14:00, which starts with a 10-minute Headspace meditation. During this period of time, I try to focus on the most challenging task, which involves the most thinking and I try to stay away from any type of communication and notifications if possible and be sure to come up with some potential usable ideas for the rest of the day regarding that most challenging task.
After my lunch, I usually have another one of a deep work session in which I try to focus on executing my morning ideas, this is when I usually do the majority of high-fidelity design, prototyping, coding, etc. These tasks are a bit more straightforward since usually I don’t have to come up with new ideas here, just executing the existing ones, so I can share it with the team and try these ideas out in the real world.
I usually like to schedule my meetings at the end of the day after my creative session around 18:00–19:00. So yeah, this doesn’t really fit into the regular 9–5 job schedule. Since I’m based in Europe and I try to align with the US time zones this schedule works great for me.
If possible, I aim to wrap up all the work before 20:00 and hang out with friends and family and end the day with catching up with some TV series, movies or reading. In my experience, it’s really important to have these ‘mini-vacations’ at the end of each day when we can forget about work and recharge our creative batteries. I certainly did it in the past, when I worked all day and night and it definitely didn’t end well so I try to pay attention to relaxation during the evenings and weekends.
Some useful techniques and books I highly recommend in this topic:
- Wim Hof Method (breathing and cold showers, these do miracles)
- Make Time by Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky
- Atomic Habits by James Clear
How do you stay efficient and engaged while working remotely?
I believe I covered most of this question in my previous answer, but one thing I’d like to add here is to keep an eye on your notifications.
Since in a remote team you can expect a lot more Slack messages, emails and Zoom invites, be sure to be 100% in control of the notifications and alerts coming your way on a daily basis.
What are the tools and workflow that you’re using to get things done?
Currently, I’m doing the majority of my design work in InVision Studio, when it comes to high-fidelity design and prototyping. At InVision we also use Freehand a lot, which is a real-time collaborative whiteboard to share our initial ideas and brainstorm together as a remote team.
Other than design tools I usually just use the default “remote tools” out there such as Gmail, Slack, and Zoom.
How do you think remote work will evolve in the future?
I think remote work will be even more popular in the near future as companies start to realize they can hire the best talent in the world independent from their locations and also discover that a good majority of people are much more productive and creative when they don’t have to sit in an office from 9-5.
How do you stay in touch with your team?
At InVision we have different calls and meetings depending on teams, squads and projects. Usually, these meetings are pretty short and concise around 30-60 minutes. This is when we discuss and critic design work and plan for the future.
On Slack, we usually handle more lightweight interactions and questions, which doesn’t require writing a super long answer and critic a design in writing.
Besides online communications, we also try to get together IRL (in real life) at least once a year, which is always inspiring and motivating for the whole team.
What do you enjoy most about working remotely?
I love the ability to work from anywhere, create my own schedule and the freedom to work whenever I feel productive and motivated, whether it’s early in the morning or the middle of the night.
What is your office/workspace look like?
You can find a lot of images of my workspace on my Instagram profile:
You can also some of these from my Unsplash account too:https://unsplash.com/@danielkorpai
Currently, I use a MacBook Pro 15” (2017) with an LG Ultrafine 5K 27” external display. I always aim to use the latest and greatest hardware to be able to try out the newest features. Regarding my phone, currently, I’m using an iPhone 11 Pro and since the introduction of iPadOS, I’m using my iPad Pro 11” a lot more on a daily basis.
What are the challenges of being a remote worker?
Remote working is definitely not for everyone. Sometimes it can get a bit lonely and if you’re a type of person who is not really good at organizing your day and sticking to your own schedule the productivity level can decrease.
However, if you’re surrounded with friends and family and you’re good at organizing your day, remote working can be one of the most beneficial lifestyles for you. As with everything else, remote working — just like 9-5 office — is not for everyone.
Do you have any side projects? Can you speak about them?
Yes, I have a couple of side projects. Some of them are still secret currently, but some of them are already live. Recently, I worked on a ‘Finder for iPad’ concept before Apple introduced the new iPadOS and it was really amazing to see a good portion of my concept became a reality with iPadOS.
You can read more about this side project here:
How do you combat feelings of loneliness, isolation and burnout?
As mentioned in my daily schedule, I try to schedule regular and frequent relaxation times. Instead of waiting for one big holiday a year, I try to have “mini-vacations” at the end of each day when I’m just watching TV series, reading a great book and generally trying to stay away from work. Also, I’m considering most weekends as a form of a holiday when I hang out with friends, try to travel as much as possible if the weather is nice and focus on one of my hobbies, mostly product photography for Instagram these days, but this always changes.
When working remotely and not scheduling relaxation times, it’s really easy to get stuck in work mode all day long and even miss a whole season going by and you haven’t been outside during the last week or so. So I definitely recommend leaving the house every day (even if just for doing the groceries, grabbing a fresh cup of coffee, etc.) and not stay indoors all day long. Balance is the key and it’s always a marathon, not a sprint.
What is special about the place where you live?
I used to live in the Netherlands during my university years, but currently, I live in Hungary, since the majority of my family and friends live here and travelling in Europe became reasonably cheap during the last couple of years, so I can easily travel during the spring and summer months and come home for the colder fall and winter seasons. This seems to be a pretty great balance for now.
Besides work, how do you like to spend your time?
When I’m not working, I usually try to learn as much as possible. When there’s a topic, which seems interesting to me I try to learn as much about it as possible. During the past couple of years, this is how I learnt to code, how to be better at product photography, writing, marketing, sales, finances, habit-forming and a ton more. I believe learning is the most crucial skill to have and one of the best ways to always stay motivated and inspired.
Do you have any recommendations for those who want to work remotely too?
Try it out. I always recommend trying out remote working to anyone who’s interested in making the switch. Try to ask your existing company to allow you to work from home 1 or 2 days a week so you can get a glimpse of remote working. Of course, if you can, try doing remote work at least 6 months to have a more accurate picture of this new lifestyle and be patient with yourself, because switching and adjusting the remote lifestyle from a 9-5 job won’t happen overnight.
I’m also always happy to help or answer any questions you might have, so feel free to reach out via email, Twitter or Instagram.