This is something id like to try in the future.
But looking through job openings its not something you commonly see, if at all? Why is this?
Most designers find remote work challenging in some way and a lot of companies hire just project-based or part-time for a remote position. I worked 10 years remote, in some cases even full-time, for 6 months+ collaborations. For me was a natural choice because I wanted to stay in my city and I didn't find a job at the level I wanted to do design. From experience, I can tell some reasons I liked more to work onsite at some point:
You usually need to communicate a lot with the people involved with the product (devs, product owners). And working remotely makes it harder to quickly get feedback on your wireframes and ask questions.
First of all, full time remote-friendly jobs in general just aren’t that common. Many remote employees weren’t actually hired as such but transitioned or negotiated into it. A friend of mine has been doing it full time for six years now, five years after negotiating for 2 days a week and just building up trust.
There are many great companies that do hire full-time remote designers. InVision, Harvest, Automattic, SurveyMonkey, Zapier, Basecamp and others are very much remote-friendly but then those are companies that do many other things differently besides their policy of where people physically work. Stack Overflow I think is another.
Remote work means work performance has to be managed primarily as a function of individual output, something corporate America’s legions of “peter principle” jobbers don’t want.
Secondly, designer jobs in general are less common than developer jobs, at least in my experience. Even small enterprises seem to have developers up the yin-yang and few or no designers.
A recent Jeff Sauro article suggests a lopsided ratio of like 20:1 developers to designers:
(Tangent - as you can imagine, finding a remote user researcher position is like finding a needle in a haystack.)
In sum: I don’t think there’s a remote- specific phenomenon here.
It's an interesting question. In my experience at startups, large corporates and freelance, being in the office is preferable, in part because random conversations can lead to solutions or other directions for a specific problem. Also, not everyone is great at typing, and services like Skype/Zoom can be exercises in frustration when they don't work properly (bad wifi connection on either end, etc.). I just don't believe that email/chat/video are adequate substitutions for face-to-face discussion. But of course the occasional WFH day shouldn't be too much of a problem.
That said, and to kind of counter my own argument, Invision (www.invisionapp.com) employees are almost entirely remote. I say "kind of counter" because I'm not sure that their product delivery has been particularly timely or of super high quality recently...
Speaking from experience, the prep time needed for team design activities (ideation, synthesis, etc) is much higher than for activities where everyone is there on location. It is true that tools are getting better, but everyone has to be trained on using those tools. Once everyone is on the same page as far as tools and prep work, I really don’t see why remote design should not be utilized more often. People also say that remote office workers feel more lonely due to not being on location, but I say thats BS. I work in the office with cube mates, and hardly anyone chats with each other. I think it is the culture and people, and not being on location that determines whether remote work actually works.