How designers must change during the COVID-19 pandemic

We can’t just do things how we’ve always done them.

The cold hard truth is, millions of people have already lost their jobs. This isn’t business as usual.

Our approach has to change. Designers must adapt.

Here’s what to do differently during the coronavirus pandemic.

1. Do whatever it takes

With companies around the world strained, designers have to be willing to take on tasks outside of their job description. You need to be able to take on work for your employer that doesn’t necessarily fit your job designer job description.

If the company you work for has laid people off or frozen hiring, then there is likely a high need for existing staff to help fill the gaps.

I’m usually not a big advocate of working long hours as a general rule. However, with 1/3rd of the world currently on lockdown, general rules are out the window right now.

With the global recession hitting I’ve been thankful for every hour beyond 40 hours that I have worked over the past few weeks.

“It’s not my job” is the last thing any boss wants to hear right now. “What can I do to help”, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air to management and may help identify you as a team member to keep if downsizing discussions occur.

2. Focus on what you can control

It seems that everywhere you turn it’s bad news.

Like I wrote in last week’s post, breaking the COVID-10 fear cycle, you have to focus mentally on what you can control.

What you can control is your performance. Higher performance leads to higher job security. It is more important than ever to stay focused and maximize your contributions to the company you work for.

Catch the local headlines if you must, but don’t get dragged down the 24/7 negative news refresh rabbit hole. We have to get our heads right in order to crush what’s actually in front of us at our jobs.

3. Have empathy for others

Give people the benefit of the doubt when they seem rude. If somebody bothers you just let it go.

Understand that even if they aren’t fighting for their life, their family member or friend might be.

Give people extra margin for the mistakes they make since most of the world is currently under an excessive amount of stress during this pandemic.

Give your co-workers a pass.

4. GetMORE work done

Getting work done is obviously a cornerstone to adding value to the company you work for. We all know this. But now is the time to step up and increase your output.

If you typically fill all available time up until a deadline, now is the time to break that habit and turn designs in early so you can take on more.

Turn off social media. Close those distracting Dribbble browser tabs. Stop farting around with building the perfect Spotify playlist.

Get the work done.

Go read my post how to crush deadlines.

5. Over communicate

With pretty much all of us working remotely right now, clear communication is more vital than ever.

The last thing teams need right now is sloppy communication. We have to take extra care and go above and beyond to communicate effectively.

Details and intent are often lost in email or the team Slack channel by those too careless or sloppy to take the extra minute to write clearly.

When something isn’t clear, ask for clarification.

Pick up the phone and call somebody if you need to in order to cut through the noise and over communicate.

6. Take initiative

What do I mean with the term “initiative”? Here’s how the dictionary on my Mac defines it:

  • The ability to assess and initiate things independently: use your initiative, imagination, and common sense.
  • An act or strategy intended to resolve a difficulty or improve a situation; a fresh approach to something.

Ask yourself how you can you be of help to others in your company, even if it isn’t just design work. Ask yourself “what’s not getting done”? How you can contribute to it getting done?

I wrote a full post on initiative a few months ago which shows how to take initiative with the right thing at the right time.

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