We live in uncertain times. In the last week alone, we’ve seen how individuals, businesses and governments alike are scrambling to answer to the challenges brought on by COVID-19. But what can the creative community do today to make positive steps in this time of crisis? How can designers help themselves — and each other — from the confines of quarantine? To help you manage the days ahead, we’ve compiled some useful tips and resources on working from home, maintaining perspective, and making a difference.
Amid calls for social distancing and self-quarantining, most designers and studios have adopted a remote work approach. Though as creatives we may be relatively well-equipped to take our work home, the impact of this shift is sure to be complex and layered. Here are some ways to minimize the shock:
Optimize your workspace. We don’t yet know how long this quarantine will last. So we suggest investing some time now to prepare a dedicated workspace away from most distractions (including the TV!). Think about setting up a standing desk, or having only stand-up video meetings. Also, this is the time to start regularly cleaning your keyboard, mouse, and other work gear. More tips like these can be found here.
Technology is great, but not for everything. It’s brilliant that we now have so many options to stay connected, from email to Slack and Zoom. But virtual meetings and social media are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Talk to your colleagues and clients about which channels work best for you, and try some alternative collaboration tools like Cryptpad, Chimp or Champ or Loom. Then, set aside some time to disconnect, and put pen to paper for a while.
If you’re an employer, be as flexible as you can. Whenever possible, studios can help by being open to reduced or asynchronous work hours. It’s also good to remember that with so many of us at home, internet networks are about to be seriously tested. Support here could mean offering personal data bundles, or prioritizing phone calls over video conferences.
With so much uncertainty, we need to find ways to keep things light. Fortunately, designers have a pretty great track record for turning problems into possibilities.
Make something. This is a no-brainer, but it bears repeating that the world needs simple but effective visuals more than ever. Plus, putting your thoughts into an artwork can also help you feel less powerless. For inspiration, here are some other creative reactions from around the world, including these simple but powerful animations, and a series of posters designed to help companies in China protect their workers from the virus.
You can also join design challenges, like Bompas & Parr’s Fountain of Hygiene competition. The project asks creatives to propose new forms of hand sanitisers, with proceeds going to charity.
Continue to seek out and enjoy art. While most cultural institutions have temporarily closed their doors, many are finding innovative ways to keep their collections on display. For example, this week Art Basel will start to offer virtual viewing rooms to replace the Hong Kong fair that was canceled this month. Independent creatives are also creating new platforms for connection, like the Quarantine Book Club, or this crowd-sourced website of Excellent Quarantine Ideas.
FOR EACH OTHER
While we continue to search for answers and antidotes, one thing is certain: we can’t weather this tide alone. The cultural sector will suffer greatly from the impact of lost earnings, disrupted supply chains and slashes in funding. We need as many hands — those of painters, illustrators, designers, architects, curators and more — on deck today. Besides donating to local funds and choosing to buy from small businesses, if you’re in the Netherlands, here are two efforts that deserve your attention:
In this project by the Kunstenbond, independent creatives can report their canceled projects and lost income. The Kunstenbond is deliberating with the government and members of parliament, to see which national and regional measurements can be expanded for the current situation.
You can also contribute by spreading this open letter supporting freelancers working in schools, universities, art academies, museums and cultural organisations.
Do you know of other constructive initiatives the design community should know about? Tweet us (or send us a postcard), and let’s keep each other inspired. Until then, stay safe and stay positive, friends.
Top image is a sticker designed by Josh Shi.