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Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: Taher Motiwalla

Taher Motiwalla Design

Ever wonder what it’s like to work at Tandem? In this series, we’re taking a peek into the everyday life of Tandem’s product designers and software engineers. 

6 a.m.

Today I hit snooze 2-3 (hundred) times before running to a nearby park to work out. Usually, if I’m moving quick, I’m back by 7:45/8 a.m. and I’ll try to get ready, make my bed, meditate, and make coffee before the meetings and Slack messages start coming in. I’m very noodle-y in the morning so I’ve been trying to build a routine to feel more productive throughout the day.

9 a.m.

Normally I start work around 9. I’ll check Slack to see if there are any important messages to reply to and then I’ll jump into Sketch or Figma and make sure I’m ready for whatever internal or client meetings I have for that day. But, right now I am ‘on the bench’ (in between client projects) so my days are a little different.

Being on the bench is awesome because I have a lot of time to devote to side projects or professional development work that I’m typically too tired to do after a full work day. But it can also be intimidatingly unstructured and being remote can make it easier to get distracted, so I have to be more conscious about time management and staying productive.

Right now I’ve been taking a product backlog/Kanban approach to my to-dos, where I have a running ‘backlog’ of tasks ranging from work stuff to smaller chores and I will pick out tasks from that list to do each day.  It’s a lot, but as my second grade teacher would say, “Taher is easily distracted and needs structure to stay on task.” So let’s see if I can stick to it.

10 a.m.

It’s Thursday! Which means we have Design Crit. This is one of my favorite meetings of the week because it’s a dedicated space for all the designers at the company (and other interested team members) to share project work, talk about side projects, or share anything else they want feedback on.

Today we are looking at a few homepage mockups for a Tandem client project and some changes to the Tandem website that we are currently redesigning! Oh and another great tradition of Design Crit is that we all bring snacks. Today I’ll be crushing pistachios.


Every day at noon we have our all-hands Lightning Rounds where everyone gets on a Google Meet and shares what they’re working on. There was a nice subplot at today’s meeting where everyone was talking about what they’re growing in their gardens (if they have gardens) so that was interesting!

12:15 p.m.

Ate far too many pistachios in Design Crit so I’m gonna go light on lunch, maybe a smoothie.

1 p.m.

I am jumping back into a side project I’m working on called Design for the Homeless (D4H), which is run by a collective of designers, developers, and researchers at a range of different companies collaborating to build an app for people experiencing their first week of homelessness. Ideally, it’s an app which points people in need to vital health, food, and employment resources — but we’re still very much in the ideation phase of how the app will work and look.

Every Thursday at Tandem we have this meeting called “Thursday Shares” which has a rotating agenda and allows Tandem folks to take turns either speaking about a particular subject (for example: best practices for development documentation) or running a fun activity (like making paper snowflakes). So I was thinking I’d use the next Thursday Share to run an interactive design activity to help us get started on our app for D4H. There’s this really cool exercise called “Crazy 8’s” where you give people a prompt of what to design for and everyone sketches eight distinct ideas in eight minutes. It’s going to be a little different via Google Meet so I need to start planning for it.

3 p.m.

Now I’m gonna switch gears and try to find something visual to do. A goal of mine while I am on the bench is to continue to get better at Adobe Illustrator. I think I’m going to start by trying my hand at making some icons for our Career and Apprenticeship pages on the Tandem website. We just redesigned the layouts of those pages and there are a couple sections that list out our employment benefits. I think it’d be a good idea to have icons for each of those so that means about 15 to 20 icons to make!

After Work

Normally while I am on the bench I end work at around 5 or 5:30. If I’m being good I’ll go cross off my to-dos and write some notes down for things I need to do the next day. I also may check to see if there are any Slack messages I might’ve missed that I need to respond to.

Tonight, I need to do some cooking, hop on a quick Zoom call with some friends, and then I want to spend the evening reading. Right now, I’m switching off between “Thinking With Type” by Ellen Lupton and “Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison. I’m trying to be a sophisticated adult and read more! (Is my second grade teacher seeing this? Doing this for you Mrs. Sumela!)

Do you want to work with Taher and the rest of the Tandem team? Visit our Careers page to apply for our open positions — and while you’re there, check out those benefits icons that Taher designed!

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