How design studios are coping with the coronavirus crisis

As agencies adjust to remote working, we explore how the coronavirus crisis has impacted current projects – and what it might mean for the future of their business

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been speaking with people from across the creative industries about their experiences of the coronavirus crisis – and how creatives can cope in times of massive change.

Here, five design studios reflect on their experiences of remote working, what national lockdowns might mean for their business and how they’re responding to an unprecedented situation.

DANNY MILLER, CO-FOUNDER, HUMAN AFTER ALL 

Planning for the unknown is challenging. Not least because we don’t know how circumstances may change from day-to-day. The saving grace for us is that for a small company we have a reasonably-sized management team, so we can share that burden to figure things out.

With clients, we’re well accustomed to VCs and collaborating in Google docs and slides. But some parts of our process are certainly having to adjust. The team has done a brilliant job of adapting workshops to be digitised, for example, but overall we’ve been lucky not to see too much disruption on projects.

We’re focused on everyone’s mental health and well-being. No-one could be blamed for feeling anxious or overwhelmed at a time like this and we’re honest in communications with our staff that we understand those challenges are going to come up. We’re certainly not trying to promote a ‘business as usual’ approach – we’ll all need to adapt, and managing a company through any kind of change means recognising where it’s going to be difficult. The best we can do is try to get ahead of those difficulties, and help keep things as smooth as possible. We’re trying to connect as much as we can via Slack and we’ve had all company hangouts. But perhaps most important of all are regular one-to-ones between staff and their line managers where they can check in on the team, and not just the work.

There’s no doubt that the knock-on effect of this come Q3 could be damaging for many businesses, even if they’re unaffected in the short term

We’re pretty self-reliant when it comes to solving problems that crop up, and over the years we’ve never found a better approach than to keep talking, get as far ahead of things as possible, have robust plans in place but don’t be afraid to adapt. That’s the best we can hope to do in any difficult circumstance.

There’s no doubt that the knock-on effect of this come Q3 could be damaging for many businesses, even if they’re unaffected in the short term. We’re no different and so we’ll just keep doing as we’ve always done – look ahead, plan for what we know, prepare for what we don’t, and adjust as we go.

Each circumstance is quite different, but the fundamental things rise to the top of the list at times like this. It’s the usual mantras – cut non-essential spend, protect the people, protect cashflow, and reprioritise as you need to make those things the number one focus.

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes