This year has seen new challenges emerge that are considerably different from 2020; but with that comes new opportunities, strength from resilience and a renewed energy.
Managing Director Chris McCue takes a moment to reflect on these challenges, believing that it’s a collective optimism from within Carr that drives us to evolve despite the setbacks of the pandemic.
At the start of 2020 what I hoped for most was a new year of experiences to learn from, to be better in business and in practice. The past year has seen business challenges we couldn’t have predicted. Now having celebrated another round of milestones in successive lockdowns, it’s time to reflect on the wins, the losses, and the ongoing challenges we face.
Design exploration by nature, where we are teasing out ideas and drawing on the skill base of all our people, is a collaborative process that is traditionally realised across a studio table. Taking this process remote has required significant adaptation, but as an industry we’ve pivoted in more ways than we might have previously thought possible. With lockdowns now an expected cycle in our monthly routine, we’re adept at transferring our team out of the Carr studio and into the safety of their homes when needed.
That said, the brief periods of where we are rebuilding to a studio presence of 75%, there is a renewed energy that reminds us how great it is to be around each other. During this time however, new challenges have emerged, such as those around increased office densities alongside increased virtual meetings and the resulting acoustic challenges. While trialling new technologies to support hybrid working created short term difficulties, it also enabled quick workarounds we wouldn’t have previously considered.
“We have embraced the opportunity to genuinely assess what makes a design firm today a compelling place to work. Making the necessary changes and taking meaningful action is our focus right now. We can’t go back to the old way of doing things.” – Chris McCue
Since the pandemic began, it has been widely reported as leading, even forcing, many in professional services to question their own purpose in their field. Do I love what I do? Is my role giving me everything I expect, need and want? As a result, the professional services landscape has shifted in so many ways.
While we sought to engage and safeguard our team at Carr, what became apparent was the heightened need to define clear pathways to progression for everyone across our business. By actively listening to our people and their needs, we are looking to provide clarity and choice for individual pathways. We haven’t been immune to the retention challenges experienced by our profession in the last year. This has been both a confronting and revealing experience. Rather than justify the reasons why team members move on, we have embraced the opportunity to genuinely assess what makes a design firm today a compelling place to work. Making the necessary changes and taking meaningful action is our focus right now. We can’t go back to the old way of doing things.
We have been fortunate in the quantity and scope of project work we have retained and gained as a team since the pandemic. We haven’t got everything right since our lives were disrupted by Covid-19, but we’re committed to figuring it out together and responding to the task at hand.
I’m optimistic about the year ahead. We are working as fervently as we did when we first began oscillating between lockdown and relative freedom. Our people and the clients I work with continue to inspire me to think and act differently.
Perhaps next year I’ll be able to visit the shores of Naoshima in Japan as I’d hoped for this year; lamenting on the experiences that shape our lives and the lessons that we learned from it all.
Read a full profile with Chris as he opens up about his design philosophy.