Important topics from week six of Community Calls included:
- Design professionals are concerned about the pipeline of future projects, particularly with limited opportunities for the kind of in person meetings and marketing that often characterizes business development. Some designers are looking to ramp up their social media (Instagram) activities to promote their brand, inspiration, and work as well as trying to remain in close touch with past clients as a source for new projects. This week brought serious discussion on uncertainty and a real inability to forecast the future business and the economy. In addition to uncertainty, some discussed feeling disconnected from projects because of social distancing and shelter in place orders that prevent travel to job sites by plane.
- There is optimism that the theme of “home as sanctuary” will drive demand for future business, with many citing feedback from clients on this topic either as reflecting on completed projects they love living in and as a source of demand. Future home design trends keep coming up from more workspaces to package delivery and storage to quarantine suites.
- Most members believe that tech solutions will be more important than ever. Taking this to the next level, many are looking to refine their digital presentation capabilities, experimenting with samples packages and other “treats” shipped to clients ahead of video meetings, and looking at investing in their software packages for design that can easily be shared. Technology tools seem to be a double edged sword, with many expressing the positive connections forged by video calls set against the lack of more unexpected introductions and interactions that yield good connections.
- There were many discussions around the topic of reopening and establishing a personal six week plan to return to work. Many designers are setting a specific “open date” of when they will be back in the office and are communicating these plans with their staff. One designer even tasked her employees to execute the redesign of the office layout in order to appropriately socially distance once they return.
- Many designers are aware that certain employees are anxious to get back to work while other employees are still nervous to even leave their homes. There were lots of discussions on how to manage these expectations. While everyone shared the sentiment that “productivity is the pathway back to profitability” and how to continue keeping your teams productive. One designer established a daily end of day email for employees to share what they accomplished, it helps keep them in check more than anything.
- Members are trying to take stock of the time to reflect, enjoy time with family, and think about lifestyle and professional changes that might reduce some of the prior running around that in hindsight seems, to some, as unproductive and less meaningful. One designer is having everyone in her firm learn something new from taking online Spanish classes to classes in photography. And several other people said they are carving out time for inspiration for themselves every day whether it’s reading a book, going through Instagram, painting, etc.
- Discussions were ongoing about how to best reassure clients about deliveries and financial decisions to spend when vendors and their supply chains are uncertain. A potential outcome could be more local sourcing and materials with reduced risk, of course, set again the allure of artisanal European production. Either way, the need to have more scrutiny of suppliers and supply chains to validate their integrity, quality, and capabilities seems inevitable. This may prove to be a positive outcome as specifies focus more on where their products come from and how they are made.