Earlier this week my colleague Adam Fry-Pierce presented the following to attendees of Remote Design Week. Here are the top ten insights in design and business during COVID-19. All sourced from the top design leaders around the world during April 2020. A report sourced from Design Leadership Forum events and team research conducted earlier this month.
Disclaimer: This report has an inherent bias as the data source is employed, leaders. We should acknowledge that people have been laid off or worse. These insights are a candle in the dark because employed or not, the situation is fluid, and we’re all transitioning into the new world.
1. The digital transformation has accelerated. Leaders from B2C brands are reporting a significant increase in requests for time/ideas/team resources to help test/build/scale/optimize digital CX (customer experience). Legacy companies that resistant to change and fine with old ways of doing business are seeking help from design to find new ways to reach their consumers.
2. Teams are designing for the “social distance economy.” Those same B2C brands aren’t just trying to figure out how to maximize digital CX, they’re already experimenting with new ideas for in-store experiences once shut-in orders are lifted. Expect entire new experiences.
3. As team investments increase, so do systems. A surprising swath of B2C brands are reporting budget increases. Digital teams are producing a higher volume. At the same time, leaders are being asked to increase cost-savings. A typical response to this problem: Design systems.
4. Businesses are transforming fast. They might be burning out employees: However! Design leaders have reported great success at helping out other teams. They’re sharing their tools/mindsets to help mitigate burnout, wasted planning cycles, and coworker frustration.
5. Covid-19 has created a climate of empathy and caring. There’s so much goodness here. We received a massive outpour of leaders asking questions like:
“How can I…”
- “Counsel my team’s anxiety.”
- “Help my fellow designer leaders.”
- “Collaborate with others to help the planet?”
6. The screen has democratized the team. We’re sure you’ve felt it. Team power dynamics are different. Everyone’s the same shape/size on a zoom call which gives designers the feeling of flatter organization. We can’t help but wonder how working dynamics are going to change for the better.
7. Leaders are confident their teams will be more influential on the other side of the pandemic. Communication and collaboration standards are higher, thanks to how clear things need to be when working remotely. These standards will carry forward, even when/if teams go back to the office.
8. Teams might stay distributed, as there are many benefits. While people do miss aspects of the office, there’re so many benefits to working remotely that we might not return to the office. If you do most of your work on a screen, remote working might be the new normal. If you haven’t read it yet, get your free copy of Remote Work for Design Teams.
9. Teams are cutting travel, but that might not be temporary. Leaders said business travel was being reduced before Covid-19. Now that the executives have first-hand evidence that distributed teams can collaborate, business travel justification will likely receive more scrutiny. We will see a rise in the use of whiteboarding tools, like Freehand, that make it possible to do a full range of collaborative functions beyond the design organization.
10. Designers need to know how to communicate their business value. The importance of this point hasn’t changed, but the urgency has. Designers must learn how their business works and how to speak the language, right now as the economy and customer needs are reforming in realtime. Check out the brand new book, Business Thinking for Designers, a fantastic resource to address this problem.
Thank you to all the members of the InVision Design Leadership Forum for your insights over the last few weeks. Thanks to Adam Fry-Pierce for co-authoring this particular report and to Mindaugas Petrutis for helping us synthesize these insights.
Watch the full presentation on YouTube— approximately 28 minutes.
For more information about the Design Leadership Forum please visit our website.