The Future of In-House Design Departments


This summer, The Creative Group partnered with Graphic Design USA and polled hundreds of GDUSA’s American In-House Design Awards winners, gathering perspectives on what lies on the horizon for this group of creatives. Respondents to The Creative Group Survey of 230 Graphic Design USA American In-house Design Awards Winners provides valuable insight on a wide range of topics, including the implementation and influence of technology in the workplace, collaboration and also how in-house designers are influencing organizations’ business decisions and directions. Here are some findings from the survey:

In-house Design Teams are going high-tech

Presently, while not every office and its employees may be equipped with state-of-the-art tablets, smart phones and videoconferencing systems, as these technological tools are shown to boost productivity, businesses will undoubtedly adopt them once they become more affordable. Considering the flexibility this newer technology affords employees, it’s not a far-flung notion to believe that very soon, creative departments will have the choice to work and communicate from any location they choose with a myriad of devices at their disposal. In fact, 72 percent of respondents said that they expect the number of in-house designers working remotely will increase over the next three to five years.

According to the survey’s findings, in-house designers expect to use social & professional networking sites, mobile/smart phones, videoconferencing software (Skype, Facetime), tablet computers and laptops all on a more frequent basis in the next three to five years. 90 percent of in-house creatives surveyed said that they expect their use sites like Facebook and LinkedIn to increase. 86 percent of these creatives also expect their use of tablet computers to increase as well. While 87 percent of respondents expect their use of a mobile phone/smart phone to increase, nearly 60 percent of respondents expect a decrease in their use of a land line. 90 percent of respondents expect to see an increase in their use of videoconferencing as well.

In-house design departments should be aware that the freedom to work and communicate remotely won’t come without drawbacks. Despite the rise in these new technologies, nearly 80 percent of in-house designers surveyed said they expect these changes will make their jobs more challenging. Counteracting the drawbacks of being perpetually connected to the office may be increasingly difficult for in-house designers. Over 80 percent of those surveyed said they expect to be increasingly connected to the office outside of business hours over the next three to five years.

In-house Designers are expanding mobile and social media skill sets

As technology evolves, in-house designers are continually called on to expand their skill sets. Presently, in-house designers must provide for an integrated experience of print and digital media. At larger firms in particular, executing projects across multiple platforms (print, online and mobile) will increasingly become a priority. Furthermore, as social media is continues to evolve as a primary means of communication, in-house designers will be expected to design for these platforms. According to the survey, nearly 50 percent of in-house designers said they expect to be responsible for many more social media-related tasks over the next three to five years. Managing corporate image/branding on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, designing page backgrounds and avatars are just a few instances where in-house designers will be called on to lend support. Additionally, as businesses pursue additional social media outlets, in-house teams will be expected to demonstrate an ability to quickly establish an understanding of and presence in these new areas.

In-house Designers are becoming more influential

As business become more aware of the role creative thinking plays in business decisions, in-house design departments will become more influential as well. Company leaders are beginning to recognize that their in-house creative teams can dramatically help with business problems – and the two are collaborating more.

“We’re looked at as a respected group who can strategize, conceptualize and design, (Robin Colangelo, director of brand and design, White & Case LLP)

According to the survey, nearly 60 percent of survey respondents expect in-house designers to have more influence on company business decisions in the next three to five years. As these departments become more influential, they are also expected to grow. 56 percent of survey respondents said they expect in-house design teams (including both full-time employees and freelancers) to increase in size over the next three to five years.

In-house design departments will be expected to collaborate with more people – both internally and externally – than ever before. 70 percent of survey respondents said they expect to collaborate more with IT Departments and 76 percent expect to collaborate more with their company’s Public Relations/Corporate Communications Departments. Collaboration with Business Operations and Training/Staff Development departments is also expected to increase in the next three to five years.

In summary, The Creative Group’s Survey of 230 Graphic Design USA American In-house Design Awards Winners shows us that the influence, role and expectations for in-house design departments are all expected to rapidly increase in the next three to five years. In addition, as technology continues to change the face of communication, marketing and advertising, in-house design departments will be expected to stay ahead of the curve while also lending valuable insight and problem-solving skills to the decision-making process.

Download the complete report here.

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