by Jim Spadaccini, founder January 18th, 2022
One constant, as the pandemic continues, is the seemingly endless number of articles about the future of work championing the misguided notion that we are at our best when we are on the other end of a Zoom conference. As we are deep into what one hopes is the last wave of the pandemic, it is easy to see why these articles touting remote work keep coming, but I’d like to look ahead to when we can all work together again. We're frequently asked why we're not posting remote positions, and here's why.
For our line of work, experience design, being together in person is a significant part of the process. We’ve adapted during the pandemic, just like many firms, and while we’ve learned that we can do some tasks remotely, the pandemic has reinforced the importance of in-person meetings and collaboration during many stages of the exhibit design and interactive design process. But it isn't just vital for the type of work we do—it's also better for professional development and more fun as well.
The Type of Work Matters
If you are designing a Website or a mobile application, you are designing for a single-user experience that resembles your situation working remotely: one individual interacting with a screen. Also, Web and mobile design have many conventions and rarely break new ground. By its very nature, experience design (and the programming that makes it possible) is more nuanced and harder to understand, and many of the technologies and techniques are still emerging. We need to collaborate and innovate as we deal with the much more complex design questions that we address.
When we are designing an exhibit, a touch table application, or a whole exhibition space, these interactive experiences are much more dynamic and complex. The experience takes place in physical spaces with real things, groups of people are interacting with exhibits and with each other, and often an array of visual, auditory, and tactile interactions take place. Variety in viewpoints and approaches is common, and the best designs balance these different views creating experiences that are truly memorable.
Many tasks in the process require in-person interactions, from prototyping, to visitor testing, to fabrication and development, to installation. As the work is defined, there are parts that can be developed remotely, and in fact, we have hybrid work policies for when those types of tasks appear. We’ve had developers work on complex algorithms for animations remotely, but then when it is time to test, tune, and view the animations at scale, in large projection, or on one of our touch tables, that work has to happen with the real gear and with your collaborators.
Making Better Exhibits and Making Better Designers & Programmers
One of the great joys of the exhibit design work that we take on is that we get to work on interesting topics with great clients and with each other. This work generally takes place in person, and often it might be as we gather around a prototype or sometimes just a whiteboard. Besides being enjoyable, collaboration, direct social interaction, and inclusion make better exhibits. Our interactions with each other and the lessons that we learn along the way make for better designers and programmers. When you are in person, these experiences are richer and often spontaneous. There is nothing spontaneous about remote work.
Our firm has benefited from the nature of the work we do and the approach we take. Our once entry-level employees move into more senior positions over time, based mainly on the experiences they have had at Ideum, the interactions they've had with other staff, and partners face-to-face. In turn, these employees help mentor the new employees who join Ideum.
We have open positions for programmers, designers, and more - all here, onsite, in Corrales, New Mexico. To avoid confusion, we're using the term experience design in many of these job titles (along with a notice that reminds the reader that this job is on-site). Soon the pandemic will end and we'll see what the future of work holds—but I can tell you this, at Ideum it'll largely be in person.
Ideum staff members are 100% vaccinated. We have a number of open positions, including Experience Design Programmer and Experience Designer. We will be presenting at the SEGD virtual job fair this week.