Five Probing Questions for In-House Designers during COVID-19
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Working through COVID-19 doesn't have to mean we stay stagnant in-house.



At our latest In-House Design Conference, speakers asked attendees to consider how they could grow as professionals during the pandemic through the following five questions.


1. Are you spending your focus and energy on your own career path, or are you comparing yourself to other people's trajectories?

Using the analogy of a horse with blinders, Alana Ruoso RGD, Graphics & Creative Manager at Benefit Cosmetics Canada, reminded attendees that it's important to expend your time and energy on the path that's right in front of you: your own. It can be difficult to do when friends and colleagues may be making career shifts or starting new ventures during the pandemic, but it's crucial for your own well-being and success. Too much time spent analyzing other people's journeys means you lose sight of what matters for yours.


2. Are there opportunities for creative rebellion right in front of you?

Dawson Guilbeault, VP, Head of Design, at Scotiabank, wondered if attendees could consider what moments or opportunities exist in their personal or work lives for them to be creatively rebellious. In-house designers are often on the receiving end of repetitive briefs that don't ask for new approaches or methods, so the onus can be on you to push the envelope and make the kind of work that you want to be doing.


3. Conversely, how can you operate and work creatively within new or existing constraints?

COVID-19 has brought with it scaled-back budgets, dispersed teams and a new way of working. But Speaker John Couch, VP Product Design at Hulu, asked attendees to consider the fact that without constraints, or with total freedom, people often struggle to find structure or meaning in their days and work. So while we may be facing new challenges and difficulties, we need to explore how they might actually push us to reach new heights creatively.


4. In what new ways can your role support and solve problems for other departments and leaders in your company?

Deborah Peterson, Director, Head of Agency at Deloitte Canada, reminded attendees that a designer's key tool is empathy, and working during COVID-19 exemplifies the need to practise it. Now is the time to be considering how different departments and leaders in your company might need support, and you can advocate for and explain how design can work to solve any problems or pain points.


5. How can you and/or your team find joy and connection?

While it can feel socially stifling and difficult to be apart from your team or co-workers, it's important to still find ways to feel connected. Michael Lejeune, Creative Director at Metro Los Angeles, told attendees that a few people from his team were called in to (while physically distancing) create the silhouette of a heart on the side of their office building by turning on lights in certain offices. Meant to be a fun, simple activity to show the city of Los Angeles that they cared, it was also a bonding experience for those who participated. Finding small, meaningful ways to cut through the anxiety and make memories can make all the difference.


Recording of the In-House Design Conference presentations will be available to the Members in September. 


Looking for more inspiration? RGD Members have access to recordings of the talks from the RGD's In-House Design Conferences in the Members Only section. Click here to learn more about becoming an RGD Member.