This industry-wide survey was developed to assess the impact on current projects and business performance, identify challenges professionals are facing and gather insights for advancing the profession during this time.
We experience heightened concerns with different conditions and challenges indicating continuing change.
We maintain firm ground in our work by being flexible and adaptable to the evolving environment.
We express our own concerns for returning back to the physical workplace, and can learn from these personal experiences and apply when exercising empathy to clients.
We caution on recovery time estimates as the impact of the pandemic continues to unfold.
Over the past month, the concern for the impact of COVID-19 on the interior design profession increased, with the overall average at 3.68, well above late-June (3.41) and nearer to the level reported mid-May (3.72). The median also climbed back up to medium-high concern (level 4). Overall distribution across concern levels are very similar to that of mid-May. Concerns over product availability rose back into the top three list for designers after falling off briefly late-June and is now a higher concern than client engagement.
*Percentages are reported for manufacturers/retailers; however, due to the small sample size (n=19), no further analysis is included in the results.
The ASID COVID-19 Pulse Survey has been tracking project status periodically (see April 14 and June 9 surveys) and will continue to track this data point monthly moving forward. More projects are in progress since early June (57% compared to 48%), but with challenges. A slight drop in the proportion of projects that are on track (12% compared to 16%) suggest continuing changes in work.
Changes in work still occur with the median back into the low impact level, but the majority still report having no impact (48%). Conditions seem to be similar to late-May or early June results, with the overall average at 2.05 (slightly above 1.97 which was reported in late-June).
Many interior designers, both self-employed and firm-employed, have had access to their primary workplace and did not experience change in their physical work setting during COVID-19 (45%). Almost a third have also returned to their physical workplace (31%), with some scheduled to return soon as well (6%).
For members of the interior design community that did not experience any changes to their physical work setting during COVID-19 (41% of all survey respondents), 61 percent did not report any concerns for working in their physical workplace. Those that expressed concerns were from work/life balance (22%) and social distancing with employees, clients and contractors (19%). Among the 34 percent that experienced change in their physical work setting, social distancing with others (64%), sharing space with others (41%) and having enough sanitation materials (41%) were top concerns prior to returning. Those who have not returned yet placed concerns for breathing re-circulated air above availability of sanitizers. However, after returning to the physical workplace, top concerns slightly changed with wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) rising above the availability of sanitizers.
When comparing firm leaders (i.e., business owners) and firm employees, concerns are slightly different: leaders focus on providing support for personal safety measures that can be somewhat controlled by the individual (i.e., social distance, hand sanitizers and PPE), whereas employees focus on shared elements that are beyond their control (i.e., social distance, shared space and air quality).
The median for business performance recovery time estimate increased once more to the three to six month range, as did the most populous estimate (28%). Overall distribution of estimates was similar to those reported early June, maintaining steady projections, but this also indicates that, even though a month has passed, recovery times have not shortened over time. Residential designers expect a quicker recovery than commercial designers.
In this pulse survey (open July 28-29, 2020), the level of concern broke its downward trend and heightened to the level we had seen mid-May when states and businesses began reopening plans. With reports of increased COVID-19 cases and deaths, this surge is reflected in the pulse survey data as well. Recovery time estimates are similar to projections from one month ago, suggesting somewhat stagnant conditions as projects and business pick up. Client engagement has improved and the concern lessened, but challenges continue in the design, construction and manufacturing process that are likely to impact overall business performance. Changes and challenges have always been part of design, and the interior design community should fair through these conditions.
The interior design community not only creates spaces that are healthy, safe and better the quality of occupants’ lives, but they are also occupants of physical spaces. Empathy is a skill that is often identified as a strength among interior designers, and the best way to exercise this skill is through experience. The concerns that the interior design community has prior to returning to the physical workplace (and what actually emerges afterwards) are similar concerns of clients and occupants. Whether directly or indirectly related to the scope of work, these areas of concern may be areas of focus for enhancing communication and education on how design supports health, safety and positive impact.
172 designers (70% business owners) and 19 employees of manufacturers and retailers participated in this survey. Respondents continue to somewhat represent the industry when comparing interior designer characteristics reported of the population by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey respondents over-represent the South region and under-represent the Northeast region, and over-represent small firms (i.e., self-employed and firms with less than 10 employees).
When comparing with the previous survey conducted a month ago (June 23-24, 2020), the responses from the current survey increased in the proportion of medium and large firms (2-9 employees) and decreased in self-employed and small firm designers. Professionals with zero to five and 31 to 40 years of experience increased in proportion while 21 to 30 years of experience decreased. Respondents continue to represent various career stages and diverse practice areas, with single-family residential selected the most out of all possible choices (39%; respondents had the option to choose up to three practice areas based on recent project work).