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 have softened our level of concern; however, are cautious in projections for business performance recovery time.
We anticipate the return to physical spaces but acknowledge virtual interactions as the norm, currently interested most in soaking up knowledge.
We are ready for the return and recovery, demonstrating workplace preparedness, resiliency, agility, and growth as we continue to face changes.
We hold true to the interior design practices for health, safety, and welfare, leading us into an optimistic future.
Concern from the interior design industry and profession has further relaxed, with a six percent drop in the highest level of concern reported and the overall average continuing its decline from 3.72 to 3.58, a 3.6 percent change. When comparing to the average measured at the beginning of the ASID COVID-19 Pulse Survey series (4.03 in March 31 survey), this is an 11.3 percent decrease. Top areas of concern remain consistent: developing new business and engaging with clients are still, by far, top-of-mind for the interior design community. Business operations resurged as a top concern for manufacturers and retailers after briefly dropping out from the top three list in the previous survey.
Based on findings from previous surveys along with what has been happening across the nation, we continue to see changes in work fluctuate. As states and businesses reopen, we asked the interior design community about their plans and implementations, and also asked about their level of interest in various types of virtual events in response to seeing an increase in virtual interaction opportunities. In subsequent ASID COVID-19 Pulse Surveys, we will follow-up on topics that emerge from the data.
State restrictions continue to ease with more businesses and venues gradually reopening. A third of the interior design community indicated never closing their physical space of business operations and almost a quarter have already opened their space. Within three months, 93 percent of the interior design community expects to be working from their pre-COVID workplace.
Quite a few members of the interior design community (18%; 11% when excluding self-employed designers) had their firm/practice already prepared. The most popular measures implemented are increasing frequency of cleaning (53%), providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE; 41%), and installing hand sanitation stations (36%)—measures that align with recommended standards and guidelines. Changing schedule of workers, especially among firm employees (43% compared to 30% overall) followed in the top list of changes implemented in the workplace.
As we look forward to returning to our physical spaces for work, we also acknowledge that virtual interactions will be part of the norm. Designers are most interested in acquiring continuing education virtually (average: 4.2, median: 5). Listening to podcasts (average 3.5, median: 3) and viewing product demos (average: 3.4, median: 3) followed. Although a small sample size, manufacturers and retailers were most interested in product demos (average 3.7, median: 4) and networking (average: 3.6, median: 3).
The interior design community has exercised resiliency and preparedness showing the ability to spring back from constant change and disruption quickly. Despite the impact from changes in work reported in the previous survey as some states have begun to reopen, the interior design community has steadied out once more having half of the respondents indicating no impact on work in the past two weeks. The overall average immediately dropped back down—currently at its all-time low of 2.04.
The median for business performance recovery time estimate has entered into the three to six month range, with this period having the highest percentage (30%). Although the number of respondents that projected more than 12 months to get back to pre-COVID state if this were to end today (late May) eased back down to five percent, the interior design community seems to be a bit more conservative in their projections than before. Firm employees project longer recovery times than self-employed designers. Commercial designers have mixed projections for recovery time, having an even distribution across all time estimate ranges, excluding more than 12 months.
In this pulse survey (open May 26-27, 2020), the level of concern from the impact of COVID-19 on professional life among the interior design community continues to soften. Over half of the respondents (54%) thought their state’s reopening timeline was early (18% indicating it being too early), and these respondents most likely indicated higher levels of concern. However, the community is prepared to return to their pre-COVID workplace, with firms implementing various measures to ensure the health and safety of their clients, employees, and contractors.
The community is accustomed to changes in work and responding more quickly to the adjustments than ever before. Beyond resiliency, the community is demonstrating agility and growth from the obstacles that were put before them from COVID-19. Although changes and challenges will persist as we continue this path into uncertainty, the practices for health, safety, and welfare hold true for interior design and will lead us into an optimistic future.
175 designers (77% business owners) and 35 employees of manufacturers and retailers participated in this survey. Respondents somewhat represented 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, while under-representing the West region, and over-represent small firms (i.e., self-employed and firms with less than 10 employees).
When comparing with the previous survey conducted two weeks prior (May 12-13, 2020), the responses from the current survey increased in the Northeast region and decreased in the West region. Firm size and years of experience distribution maintained relative consistency. Respondents continue to represent various career stages and diverse practice areas, with single-family residential selected the most out of all possible choices (38%; respondents had the option to choose up to three practice areas based on recent project work).