Any techs doing even ANY WFH?

I understand that due to the inherent tactile nature of tech design, it’s likely that the job can never be fully WFH. However, are any techs WFH at all? What companies are offering this? (I’m in LA.)

It’s been tough to see my boyfriend and nearly all my non-fashion friends comfortably WFH for 2+ years. Even the stupid “haha I barely work when I work from home!” memes on instagram are getting to me (so you know it’s bad!). I’ve bopped around to a couple of jobs in the past year, and there is zero WFH opportunity, not even one day a week or flex time (get your fitting done and do measuring/comments from home). I even took a job that promised 3 days a week at home which was a bold-faced lie and only allowed me to WFH once, when I was sick but they really needed my work done (I quit that job quickly, for that and other reasons).

All the elements that go into working in an office are getting to me, especially that as the tech in my company, I’ve been designated the only “in-office full time” employee while everyone else comes and goes as they please and has freedom to WFH. They only come in to “fit” (try on the garment themselves, no fit model) and then go home. I’m expected to be in always to do my job but also to accommodate others who from home (ie, check in packages, take photos of things to send to others so they can approve, etc).

As I said, I’ve moved around in a bit in the past year looking for a good job, and recruiters have told me to “get real,” that NO companies are offering WFH for techs specifically. I can understand if it’s offered once someone has been at a company for a while and established a proven working system, but I’m getting burnt out and considering leaving the industry. So, are any techs working from home in any capacity?

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ugh I hear you. I think this was my major reason for quitting my last job as well - for me, yes it was the fact that I was carrying EVERYTHING while everyone else got do do whatever, but also that the tech design pay rates do not cover the increasing cost of living in LA (and gas!).

I am seeing some companies do 3 days a week in-office for tech designers in job advertisements, but this is in passing and probably not in LA. It feels reasonable that we don’t have to always be there since a lot of our work is quiet time at a computer.

Right now I’ve managed to stay remote by quitting my last job and then just freelancing for them and a few other companies. I’m not really making that much $$ but at least I don’t have to go in… I have my sanity and I’m not constantly feeling frustrated and angry.

I am trying to find ways I can be remote or more flexible for the long term, which might mean transitioning careers a bit.

BUT maybe if all the good techs come together and say, no, we need better working conditions, we’ll start to get it!

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I’m in Tech Design NYC and I do hybrid. I come into office when there’s fitting and whenever I’m working on several samples (since I don’t feel like bringing home 20 samples). WFH about 2 days every week and sometimes I timed myself to be in office while majority of everyone else is WFH.

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I’m a TD in NYC and I have a hybrid work schedule. I WFH 3 days a week and go in for fittings twice a week. The annoying thing is that while I am at the office, my designers get to stay home and join the fittings virtually if they choose. So it’s mandatory that I go in, but Design gets to do what ever they want? It doesn’t seem fair and makes more work for my fittings.

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I’m in Seattle and we have been pretty much WFH since the beginning of Covid, going in once or twice a week for fittings. Part of that is because we are were in the process of moving our offices when Covid hit. Once new offices are set up though, it going to be permanently hybrid. 2-3 times a week and I doubt 9-5. Out parent company is based in NYC, and that’s what they are doing too. I know of some other Seattle apparel companies doing the same.

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Similar to PNWtechdesign, my company was in office transition when COVID hit, and has been for the past 2 years. We were 100% WFH until fittings started happening in person again a little over a year ago. Now we have a temp office space that doesn’t have enough room for us to all be in person, so techs come in to fit and do some work, but are free to come and go as they please. Some techs work in office most days, others just come for fittings and go home. I personally work a half day in office when I have to fit (1-2 days a week), since my commute is fairly long. The company did just secure a permanent office, so it will be interesting to see how that changes things. We had been told previously that tech would continue to work hybrid, with no mandated number of days in office, but time will tell if that actually happens. Design was recently required to be in office 3 days a week.
Edited to mention: the majority of the techs have at least 1 form at home, allowing us to freely do sample checks/comments throughout the week. I don’t have a form for my secondary category, so I batch prep that work when I’m in office, so I can process it later on. Fully aware this ratio of forms:tech does not exist at every company, and it’s a key to why our WFH has worked so well for so long.

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I’m a tech designer in NYC. After the pandemic the company reduced in size by about 60%. We all work from home on Fridays. Mon-Thurs are all about prepping for fitting then sending out as many comments as possible by Thursday so I don’t have to lug a suitcase full of samples on Thursday night. I am a little…scratch that, I am resentful that I actually work on Fridays because it seems like the only people who are actually working are the tech designers.
All being said, It is possible for techs to work from home, I know of a few companies where it is an option. Although those companies fit mainly on 3D/virtual models using Clos or Browzwear.

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NYC- I was working freelance throughout the pandemic but this was only possible because I have several different mannequins at home. Now working a regular tech job again, mostly in-office because of sample availability & on-site equipment, but have the option to WFH 1 day a week: you have to prep & plan for it to be mostly data entry & comments unless you want to drag home a suitcase full of samples.

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I have been lucky to have started during Covid, and been mostly WFH, but going in for fittings/in person meetings (handoffs, fabric, etc) which are usually 2x/week.
This has actually worked out great, as my commute is very long (LA traffic= 1 1/2- 2 hrs each way) and I would have never taken a job in this location had Covid not happened. However, I just got the dreaded RTO meeting invite for this week, which may change my opinion of my job significantly, if I have to start going in more often.
One thing I do know- most of the jobs I see posted are for full time in office positions, and I am NEVER going back to doing that again (15-20 hours of commuting a week, and for what?). There are amazing benefits to WFH, and I simply refuse to go back to “the way we always do it”. WFH means not only skipping hours of driving, but also being to exercise in the morning or afternoons at normal times (no 8 pm pilates classes that I barely get to in time), being able to pick up my dry cleaning/groceries on my lunch break, not having to take my dog to day care all the time and hire a pet walker, and actually be able to meet up with friends for happy hour at normal times.
As product people, there are reasons we can never be 100% remote, and I get that, and it makes me relish my in person time more, as I try to book my fittings and meetings in groups, in order to be efficient and have less of the “I have 15 minutes between meetings so I can’t really dive into a project right now” times.
I daresay that the days I am WFH are the most productive, and I am able to accomplish things in the most efficient manner and able to truly focus. My office is open concept, and the days I am there I actually accomplish the least amount of work, as it’s so distracting. A lot of what tech does requires deep concentration, so trying to grade msmts/write clear comments/update BOMs, etc while a gaggle of girls 10 feet away are enjoying the free snacks and discussing Real Housewives means it takes me twice as long and I have to triple check my work. Whereas at home I can sit in silence, and really focus. I’m also working starting right at 9 am, into the the thick of things- whereas when I am in the office, I’m stressed from my drive in, need to go get coffee, fill my water bottle, etc and I’m not settled in and actually being productive for at least the first 30+ minutes. (Ok- let’s the be real, the 1st hour is kind of a wash).
There are a lot of things tech does that doesn’t require in person work- I pick up my samples/comp samples, etc and schlep them home-- and there is absolutely no reason for me to drive 3 hours a day just to go to an office, put on noise cancelling headphones, and measure garments and do data entry of specs, writing comments, diagramming corrections on photos/patterns, etc. One thing I love about tech design is that a lot of the work is very task oriented and quantifiable- ie: fit 20 garments, send out 20 comments, etc. If I’m meeting my deadlines, and accomplishing my work- then who cares where I do it? Which makes me think a lot of companies try to push the ol’ workplace “culture” aspect- as though they value the random chats/netflix discussions/what are we ordering for lunch kind of thing. Which, as I’ve gotten older, I could care less about. Sure, I like my coworkers. But I’ve learned that I’m at work to do a job, not make friends- and trying to coax me into spending all my time there (lunches and free snacks and coffee) doesn’t make me a better employee- and it’s still my job to send out those 20 fit comments, free coffee or not.
I think most fashion companies are just old school, and the butts-in-seats mentality is strong. I guess I’m lucky to be in a place where I am able to say to recruiters- Nope, not doing the 40+ hours a week in office anymore. It’s too draining and exhausting- hard on my mind, my body, my car, my social life and my relationship- and I don’t even have kids. Commuting (here in LA) is a part time unpaid job on top of the paid 9-5. I had hoped that companies would have learned from Covid that their employees can be productive, and happier, if you treat them like grown ups and let them learn how to manage their time. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case.

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OMG I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. Having to go to work is insane amounts of wasted time- between meetings (I find I need de-compression time after meetings to get back in “the zone”) and being forced to work at a desk that’s uncomfortable & in a noisy location. And yes, not to mention the rising cost of gas & car maintenance… are they giving us raises for that?

I don’t know why they put tech designers in open seating, or why we never have ANY say over where we work (like, if you’re going to make me be in office, at least let me choose where I want my desk). For years I was forced to sit FACING a hallway where everyone and their mother would talk to me as they walked by. I bought plants, I wore enormous headphones, just to try to ignore the peering eyes (also, everyone seemed to need to comment on my facial expression as I worked, WHY is that necessary, I’m sure you look weird when you’re trying to focus too)

I was also next to the plotting & digitizing equipment which meant I became the point person to ask inane questions about the digitizer and plotter. Honestly, if you’re a patternmaker, learn to use the tools you need, don’t rely on other people every time the paper runs out!

If you treat me like an adult who cares about their job, I will treat this job as a job that I want to hold onto and give you my best work. I don’t care about forced birthday celebrations or gift cards so I feel “valued”. Tell me you value me by treating me like I’m capable of making decisions for myself.

It really frustrates me that the fashion industry is so obsessed with butts in seats. YES being in person is important. It can be great! But it’s not necessary that it’s everyday. Nor is it necessary that every person in the office has the same working style. Some people like being there, some don’t.

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I’m not tech but all of the tech designers at my company are 100% remote. Vendors ship samples to their homes and my company bought them all forms for their homes and all fittings are done via zoom. I think our situation is the exception not the rule. My company doesn’t want to lose good people by forcing them. Anyone who comes into the office is voluntary.

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wow! sounds like you work for a great company!

I think most upper managers are not only old school but extroverts who depend on brown nosers to validate their ineptitude. They’re control freaks who need to watch people to prove they’re actually working. It’s ridiculous to expect people to come back when they’ve been managing well for over two years, but here we are.

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haha, yes, I think a lot of it has to do with managers who don’t actually do anything but hover over their direct reports and take credit for their work!

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Same at my company ,except only the fit tech who were there during the pandemic has their forms. They come in to pick samples and for live model fittings once a week. And there is me,hiring three months ago whne it was thought the pandemic was over. So no form for me and I have to spend 3hrs a day in transit. And since i am the only fit on site all the tiny chores like filing samples etc falls on me…the lady with 30 years experience…sigh

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My job is pretty chill, I’m well respected, I like my boss and coworkers. The downside is that I’m not paid nearly enough. I grapple with looking for another position; risking getting into a situation that’s the opposite of what I’m in now. Also I’m in my 50’s. I’m between a rock and a hard place.

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This is why I quit working in tech design. I got laid off in 2020 and I have health issues, so I don’t feel comfortable going into an office. I was fortunate enough to switch to freelance graphic design, now I can work from home.

A lot of ‘remote’ tech jobs are actually hybrid and they’ll post in the remote tag to get hits. I saw a lot of “oh yes, we’re remote! You just have to come in for fittings every day.”

And they wonder why nobody is sticking around. Oy.

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