Study into the effect of COVID-19 on the Australian Design Industry

Over the last fortnight, we’ve been working with the Design Business Council on a survey of Australian design practitioners to share stories, strategies and coping mechanisms for dealing with the current Covid situation. While some report up to a 60% loss in revenue, others are positively embracing restrictions and the need to evolve or pivot business models.

The Covid response survey was developed by the Design Business Council, Streamtime and Never Not Creative. More than 150 business owners participated in the study that was inspired by UK community, The Agency Collective. The goal of the research was to share – as much as possible – the ways that the design community are trying to survive during this time.

Forecast loss of revenue

Inevitably, loss of revenue was a key element of the survey. However, other long-term impacts were also investigated. 42% of respondents believed that Covid would result in a permanent change in their business model, and almost a quarter expected to continue to practice remote working once restrictions had been lifted.

Unsurprisingly, design businesses with clients in vulnerable sectors were feeling the effects the most. Sectors affected the most were Arts, Entertainment, Culture (19%), Hospitality (13%), Consumer (12% not including food) and Travel & Tourism (11%). These industries were reducing or removing projects from their new business pipeline.

It was clear that the seriousness of this situation was being understood by creative business owners. 40% of respondents were actively questioning the viability of their business and whether there were enough clients, funds and energy to continue with operations.

Taking the positives

Creative resolve is shining through though. Many respondents are focused on taking freed up time to evaluate their business, service offering, profitability and client mix so that they are better placed for any future hurdles. Many are embracing the proximity to home, lack of a commute and the chance to review software and processes that improve the way they work.

Carol Mackay, from Design Business Council was encouraged by the positives:

“It’s really encouraging to see how design agency owners are using this time to focus on their business. Devoid of that relentless sense of urgency, they’re determined that it won’t be ‘business as usual’ on the other side. They’ve time to question what’s working and what’s not. And they’re picking up the phone to call and build stronger bonds with their clients. Some have even spoken of clients being more open to new ideas, or offering to find projects to help their agencies survive the crisis.”

Andy Wright, our Managing Director and founder of Never Not Creative, pointed to the sense of community sweeping the creative industry:

“It’s nice to see a little of the competitiveness drop off and hear how willing we all are to share stories and coping strategies to pull through this together as a community. Hopefully by publishing some of these stories we can spread the ideas throughout the industry and come out better for it on the other side.” 

The full report can be found at: 

Andy Wright

Andy is the Managing Director at Streamtime. Previously a co-founder of For The People who designed the new Streamtime. Andy is charged with making sure we're making the best possible product to help creatives and the creative industry to be as successful as possible.

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