May 22, 2020 at 3:19 pm #3559578
I am interested in having a discussion about how Design Professionals are adapting to this “New Normal” with quarantines, social distancing requirements and mandated shutdowns for non-essential businesses. I have no interest in the politics, rather I am more interested in how professionals in the field are reacting to these restrictions and what you all see as the way forward.
For context, I am a recent graduate from the University of Oregon’s College of Design. I am entering into a second career, having retired from my previous profession in Aerospace/Aviation. Much of the Professional Practice information taught about job seeking and working in the design field was rendered obsolete by recent events. Most of what I am hearing from potential employers is “not right now”.
What I am seeing is that at least some of the industry is working from their bunkers. I see that construction is continuing, so I can only assume that design work is continuing as well, if in a modified manner.
I would like to know what you all are doing to weather the storm. personally, I am getting caught up on some projects on my own home and doing a lot of reading, writing, drawing and making to fill out the days.May 24, 2020 at 8:02 am #3559579
Leslie B WagleParticipant
Yes I think you may not be getting many replies because there was enough work to keep going with, and people are hoping an absolute loss of desire for design work doesn’t happen or ever become a “new normal.” Keep up your personal projects and hope for the future. From what I’m thinking, the building industry can’t collapse because we will always need to revise and repair sites and there will be retro-fitting at least. Even if some companies go under, there will be replacements to fill the spaces as long as there is an active culture, but things may come back in variable regional and sector patterns. There isn’t a fundamental change, we have more like pent up demand than anything. I’m no prophet but I’d bet more on a shifting but visible resurgence, not decades-long semi-permanent cave in.
People are people; if they can’t carry out what were interrupted plans, they will revise or do something else. They aren’t going to convert into midieval monks. If the profession gets into near starvation mode, you’ll see plenty of dramatic posts – and even if we go through a period of that, the angst evaporates when healing gets underway. At least that was true in the 2012 or so time period and the doom of L.A. topics just stopped suddenly (not on Land8 but other platforms) when there was less idle time. It was a funny thing to see, not a trickle down but dead stop. Like people had enough gloom and a switch was turned off. Maybe some just dropped out but I believe others moved on with some kind of adjustment and others got to return to a condition more like their “old normal.”May 24, 2020 at 2:55 pm #3559580
Thanks for that insight. Creative people tend not to do well by sitting idle. Software licenses are not cheap and they have to used, so I cannot imagine that designers are sitting on their thumbs. The movement that must be occurring must be behind the scenes, which makes sense for the conditions.
I am one that hopes in the return to normal that the work-from-home potential remains. Setting up my home office as a place to study for school has become a comfortable and efficient workspace that I could not expect in an office setting. I do hope that the rush to return to the old normal rides the breaks a little. I find myself getting a lot done when I am familiar and comfortable in my workspace and I do not want to lose that.May 24, 2020 at 3:57 pm #3559581
Leslie B WagleParticipant
Oh, I think that will always have potential. It was widely used even back in the “olden days,” when I had my drawing board at home and only later moved into a former classroom in a renovated school building (and now am back home again). You just have to decide to market yourself to earn the convenience, and it doesn’t work so well for people interested in government or teaching. CAD and virtual communication make self employment even more feasible and home as a 1-person office setting. There just are some people who cannot seem to focus (or claim that) at home. But you can let yourself get distracted too easily in a shared or rented office, too.May 24, 2020 at 4:28 pm #3559582
About two years ago I realized that there was a great potential to work remotely and set up my home office. That was when I set up my LLC and website, then started getting things in order so I could be up and running when I graduated. Things are in place and ready to go, but as you say it is the marketing and getting the name out there.
My hope is that once folks start coming out of their bunkers and seeing the sun again that the profession does not completely revert back to everyone in the studio breathing the same air.
You are correct about how everyone works differently. Working at home requires self-discipline. I get distracted with a lot of people around and to prevent that I plug in my headphones and focus on my task. I have been told that can be off-putting in some firm environments, where there is an expectation of social interaction. At home, the only distractions are the ones I allow.
Thank you for you input.May 25, 2020 at 9:13 am #3559583
Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
I have a one person home office since I started working on my own nine years ago, so that is a zero change for me. I do residential design – 90% raze and replace home projects on desirable vacation home lots, so it is a demographic that is not as “financially inconvenienced” as most. They still treat their personal lifestyles very well while how they run the rest of their affairs may be very different. They are still moving forward with buying other people’s older waterfront homes for the lot and tearing them down to build their new dream homes. Others are still looking to add swimming pools and outdoor living amenities.
The engineers and architects that I work with are not seeing a change in demand. They are not having clients in their offices. They have employees working remotely for the most part. The residential builders and their subcontractors here in Massachusetts have been able to continue to work without missing a beat – supposedly following social distancing and wearing masks.
Until this past week, we had to do meetings by Zoom, Skype, Gotomeeting, and such. I was able to meet on site with Conservation Agents during all of this.
I’m on Cape Cod, so we are a resort area with a very high percentage of vacation homes and have lots of people who rent out their second homes by the week when they are not using them or simply as investments. The short term rentals are not allowed at this time and restaurants can only do take out which is going to have a huge impact on a lot of people. However, the waterfront multi-million dollar home owners mostly from Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are only impacted by the restaurants and bars not being opened. … golf opened last week.
I have had some calls for adding swimming pools and outdoor living amenities to existing homes for the reason that “if we are going to isolate we want to have things to do”.
A builder of custom homes and some high end spec’ homes told me that he sold 2 houses since the “shut down” to people who decided it was time to invest in a vacation home partially so they had a place to escape the city if this ever happens again.
Lots of people escaped the city to “self isolate” or “work remotely” in their vacation homes since this started. We usually have traffic jams on Friday coming and Monday going from here on Memorial Day weekend since there are only two bridges. That did not happen Friday because everyone was already here.
Bottom line: high end waterfront development for rich people escaping the city is still a vibrant market.May 25, 2020 at 1:16 pm #3559585
I have read and heard that “we are all in the same boat”, and I disagree with that logic. I would argue that we are all on different boats in the same storm and each boat will weather the storm differently.
You seemed to have found a niche that will weather the storm and I am glad for it. It means that all things are possible.
thanks for the input.May 25, 2020 at 2:50 pm #3559586
Andrew Garulay, RLAParticipant
Definitely agree that there are lots of people in lots of different boats in society at large and lots of different niches in the landscape architecture world. Some are in calmer waters than others.
This is a good time to pay attention to which segments of the market stay active and who keeps doing well. I’m talking about the people who hire LAs or others rather than the LAs themselves. Pay attention to what they have their land planners produce and learn what is valued. That will show you the opportunities that exist. Then you can figure out where you can fit.
We are taught to do certain things and then to hope there is someone out there that will hire us to do those things. It is backwards. Find out who is out there and what they need and see what you can do to meet those needs. You can’t miss.May 25, 2020 at 3:10 pm #3559587
That is sound advice.
I noticed as I progressed through school that the LA Field is so broad that it borders on generalized, rather than specific. There are specific subfields for sure, but overall LA covers a broad spectrum of projects. I like that because there are niches to be found.
At the moment, I have tried to position myself as someone that can fill in where needed. Being semi-retired, I am looking for work that is project based, rather than traditional employment. There are a couple firms that are starting to embrace the online work from home model and we are talking. Time will tell how it all shakes out.
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