👋 Hi! I’m Jon Rundle. I live in London Ontario 🇨🇦 and work at Shopify as a Staff Product Designer. I’ve spent the last 13 years in the design/tech industry. My first role was at a local web design agency where I initially spent more of my time doing front-end development. That’s the direction I had geared myself coming out of college but once I got a taste for design I fell in love with it and haven’t looked back!
The other pivotal moment of my career was when the App Store launched and mobile apps began to take off. I co-founded a mobile design and development agency (Treble) shortly after that, where we built many of our own apps as well as partnering with small start-ups to help them bring their ideas to life. After running Treble for a few years, I ended up working remotely for an SF-based company called Envoy for over 4 years where I bring many new products to life. Now at Shopify, I’m continuing to build into my mobile design roots helping lead design on our Shopify Mobile app.
On the personal side, I’m married with a 3-year-old son who keeps us super busy. I have a few hobbies on the side as well including sports like golf and hockey, as well as playing the guitar and dabbling in the occasional video game.
How did you start working remotely and why?
I was fortunate to start working from home when I started Treble. As a small team, we wanted to reduce our company overhead as much as possible so working from home was the perfect fit for us. I was fortunate to be able to keep that going with Envoy even though they were based in SF. That was my first true remote experience with a much larger team. Adding the timezone change (I was 3 hours ahead) also brought its initial challenges but I was able to help drive some processes that improved the remote experience. Through the pandemic, remote has quickly become an industry standard and as companies like Shopify embrace it as the future it’ll be exciting to see how that continues to grow.
What is your typical day like?
My alarm is typically set to 7:40 unless it’s a day during the summer months when I get up earlier to get in a quick 9 hole round of golf. I then help get my son up and ready for the day and we eat breakfast while reading books as my wife gets ready. That’s when I then shift over to making some coffee, which speaking of, I’ve become quite obsessed with and bit by the pour-over/espresso bug.
Around 9:00 I make my way into my office and start the day. I usually start by checking over my schedule for the day so I can prep for certain meetings and know where my focus time gaps are. I keep a running to-do list in Things that I add to throughout the day depending on what comes up. I try to have only one or two major tasks per day to focus on and then sprinkle in around that all the little things that come up. At Shopify, we rely heavily on Google Calendar and Slack for most of our communication and scheduling of meetings.
Since part of my team is based on the west coast I typically use my mornings to get heads-down work done. Around noon I take lunch with my wife and son and then get back to my desk around 12:45. Most afternoons are when the majority of the team check-ins and meetings take place except for Wednesday’s which is a Shopify-wide no meeting day. I also use the afternoons to pair design with other designers and carve out some more heads-down design and prototyping time where I can.
I then try to wrap up around 5 pm so that I can help relieve my wife from kid duties and help get dinner ready. I try to shut off completely after that but will occasionally work on a small side project if it’s a quiet evening after my son goes to bed. Typically though most nights are usually relaxing with my wife watching hockey or binging our latest shows.
How do you stay efficient and engaged while working remotely?
Having a clear and concise to-do list is the best tool for me. Like I mentioned earlier I like to keep those to one or two major tasks so I can stay focused knowing many little tasks will still creep in and take up time. When I’m feeling creative block or needing to refocus, I’ll grab my guitar and noodle around on it which helps me to take a quick mental break and get back into the zone.
What are the tools and workflow that you’re using to get things done?
I’m a sucker for tools and like to try any and all but I’ve recently found a pretty good groove with a few key ones.
Apple Notes—I like the built-in Notes app since it’s with me at all times. I use it to keep notes of meetings, to jot down ideas or any other random information.
Things—As I mentioned earlier this is where I keep all my tasks, again loving that it’s with me wherever I go and is honestly just a fun app to use, it’s so well made!
Spark Mail—My email app of choice
Figma—Design tool of choice
Origami—For micro-interaction prototyping. Since I work primarily in mobile I find Origami a great tool for prototyping very particular mobile interactions that are beyond Figma’s abilities. Having access to built-in components like text fields and the camera is extremely helpful in crafting a great experience.
Paper (iPad)—I don’t do a ton of sketching but when I do I usually use Paper on my iPad or on a whiteboard I have on my wall next to me.
How do you stay in touch with your team?
A little of everything—we’ve got standup meetings for our main mobile team as well as our design team (twice a week). We have a couple of weekly and bi-weekly design critique sessions and then I usually make space for some unplanned design pairing sessions when jamming on project work. We also try to do a lot of async updates through quick videos which I find really beneficial to break up a meeting heavy schedule. Lastly, there are some casual social hours that are drop-in/out and we use some slack tools to keep things light and ask the team random questions which always usually spark a lighthearted thread.
What do you enjoy most about working remotely?
Being able to be close to my family all the time—my wife is staying at home with our son and being able to see them multiple times throughout the day is awesome. I also love the flexibility of being able to, throughout my career, work with some really talented teams despite wanting to stay in a small city. Remote work has opened up a lot of great opportunities for me that I’m very grateful for.
What is your office/workspace look like?
- 16” MacBook Pro
- 27” 5K LG Ultrafine Monitor
- Keychron K3 Keyboard
- Logitech MX Master 3 Mouse
- iPad Pro
- iPhone 12 Pro
- Elgato Wave:1 Microphone
- Elgato Key Light Air
- Nikon D7200 + Sigma 17-50 2.8f lens
- BenQ Monitor Light
- Grovemade Desk Shelf & Mat
- Ember Mug
What are the challenges of being a remote worker?
It’s definitely harder to create really strong connections with your co-workers. At Envoy, I was fortunate to be able to fly out to SF quarterly to spend a week at a time in the office. That helped create those deeper connections which then could grow even when back at home. Being remote also requires a different level of focus, it can take time to build up the right processes to stay focused and effective in your job. That, as well as, having the right boundaries to ensure work stays separate from your personal life.
How do you combat feelings of loneliness, isolation and burnout?
Well right now in a pandemic this is a lot tougher but before I would combat this by getting out of the house, working at a cafe or getting together with other people to work in the same space during the day. Making time to reach out to co-workers either current or past to chat casually and check-in also helps a lot. It’s easy to focus just on work while you’re remote but remembering that office life has those same impromptu personal interactions helps remind you to do the same remotely.
What is special about the place where you live?
I’ve grown up and lived in London Ontario my whole life. It’s an average size city around 400,000 people. There are some great food options here and the cost of living is reasonable. There’s a lot of sprawling suburban areas as well as a nice little downtown that has some great amenities including an impressive junior hockey team arena. Family here is certainly the biggest draw for us but we love the pace of life and the ability to really put down strong roots here.
Besides work, how do you like to spend your time?
I’ve got a few hobbies that take up my time as well as an energetic 3-year old that keeps us on our toes. I mentioned it earlier but I love to play the guitar, I’m passionate about sports—playing golf through the summer months and pickup hockey in the winters.
Do you have any recommendations for those who want to work remotely too?
Learning how to stay focused and motivated is one of the biggest ones. Take time to build out an office space that will make you feel productive. Ensure that the space that you work in is an area that you can separate from when you end your day. Letting work creep into your entire day isn’t good for preventing long-term burnout. Having outlets that you can turn to throughout the day to help you refocus is also critical, whether that be picking an instrument like me or even just taking breaks to go for walks to get away from your desk.
Lastly, make time to connect with other people, whether it be online like we’re doing now during the pandemic or even afterwards when we can visit others again. Carving out time to have some face-to-face interactions or even just being around others while you continue working can improve your quality of remote life.