• Timothy McKennaTimothy McKenna, over 2 years ago

    My two cents on the subject...As a US-based design director managing a team of six that works in state government as a vendor. Like Sherif stated...this is really tough to answer because things are changing every day, and in my state of Pennsylvania, things are very much in flux with our Dept. of Health, Dept. of Human Services, PEMA, and our Governor's Office. Additionally, my wife works in the Dept. of Human Services in the eHealth initiative.

    From municipal and state government perspectives (which may be applicable to provinces and other non-country wide/federal government levels) I see disaster planning and the ability for government agencies, commissions, agencies, and committees to be able to pivot more quickly to remote working. There isn't a lot of infrastructure at for these levels of government to be able to pivot to remote work; mostly from a security perspective and architecture point of view. I think many in local and state government will work to create better continuity plans to enable certain work to continue to operate. This may look like more laptops, more IT infrastructure for remote access via VPN and other tools that will be become standards (I see Zoom, Slack/Microsoft Teams, and even Atlassian's suite becoming some of those tools for government to utilize). Your government experience may vary (state to state in the US, locally to locally, country to country). Pennsylvania is a very conservative commonwealth....conservative in the sense of slow to adopt new methods and approaches.

    From a designer's point of view (and working for a company that works closely with the government). I think while the circumstances of this "grand experiment" were not ideal to enact under, I do think many companies will come to see the possibility of working remotely as a viable option as long as communication, continuity of services, meeting SLA's, and supporting employees all can be sustained meaningful. Unfortunately, the growing pains of this grand experiment will leave some organizations and individuals a bit jaded and have a skewed vision of how to sustainably maintain a distributed workforce. My own company maintains an office where we all work together traditionally. Practitioners could take advantage of a "remote day" once a week and that was it. Since we've all been remote for over a week now, we have continued to provide the same level (if not quicker) of service to our partner. If it wasn't for our parent companies' view on distributed teams being antithetical to our business, we might move to a fully distributed model with leadership meeting in person a handful of times to meet with our partner. My team has continued to operate at the same level (and again, if not quicker) and have found the disruption minimal from a work perspective...many of the issues arise from folks not have a conducive environment at home to be in the same mindset as being in the office. Tools we use such as Figma, Slack, Azure DevOps, Office365, Zoom...basically have allowed us to do the same work at home. Even ideation sessions and brainstorming activities haven't been effected negatively (much to my surprise) with these tools. As a manager, I can still provide the level of individual support to team members as I would in person. In short, the tools to do the work are there...I think for some companies it will be an adjustment of how we interact and setting up the infrastructure to make that happen.

    One of the hardest things I can see with a more concerted shift to remote work is the population of workers who do not have a conducive environment at home to be effective. I am lucky with a first-floor back room that serves as my home office and where I have my drumset and D&D books. One of my co-workers shares a small apartment in the city with two roommates. The only private area he has is his tiny ass bedroom. So that is where I see a lot of issues arise. Also, the resistance to working remotely...not everyone wants to be remote and they like the office environment. For some people, being at the office is the most social interaction they get all week...so shifting towards a more isolated working environment (because co-working spaces won't really address this issue as the same as company-owned offices) may be detrimental to many people's mental health.

    The companies I see benefiting a great deal from this potential shift are the following. - Food Delivery (GrubHub, Uber Eats, etc.) - Food Preparation Deliver (Hello Fresh, etc.) - Food Pickup (Grocery stores offering pick up or drop off) - Internet Service Providers (Mixed bag on this because IMHO US-based ISP's are shit) - Streaming Services (Hulu, Spotify, Netflix, Disney+) - eCommerce Platforms (Amazon, Shopify Stores, BigCartel, Society6, RedBubble, Etsy, Newegg, etc.) - Gaming (Valve, Xbox, etc.) - Niche Social Networks (Ello, Nextdoor, etc.) - Home Security (ADT, Canary, etc.)

    Companies that will make shifts in this era: - Restaurants will begin to offer more online order/takeout options. - Financial Services (Banking like SoFi and BankMobile will lead this charge) - Education (I see disruptors coming up with services and products to make K-12 education at home just as easy as MOOCs and platforms like Team Treehouse and Free Code Camp) - Healthcare (This will provide more desire for telehealth options, especially with mental health, that can take insurance)

    Unexpected outcomes from this time. - Positive outlook: people will value their real-life connections more and support local businesses more frequently, thus you may see vibrant downtowns with shops, restaurants, galleries, and the like because these interactions will provide more than just base needs and service offerings...they will also serve for more social interaction. Think of how breweries and farmer markets draw in large crowds, see this at the downtown level. This could potentially cause revitalization programs in blighted areas of cities. This is a very positive outlook.

    • Negative outlook: Nothing will change and we become more isolated having become more comfortable being behind a screen and losing social graces.

    My own outlook on design: It's hard to say...I see the potential of designers becoming more valuable but also being on smaller, more lean teams. Freelancers and contractors I think will take the biggest hit initially, but certain experts will continue to grow. It's still pretty murky. I think companies with the capital and the knowledge will transition to distributed teams like Automattic, Zapier, and HotJar. But also, many could re-organize and consolidate and work differently in the office environment. Really....IDK.

    My biggest hope is that once we've moved past the worst of this...is that we don't forget about this crisis and act like everything should go back to "normal". That is the future I fear the most...and most likely the one that will happen.

    9 points