From a technical standpoint, design systems are going to continue to become more important. They’ve only gotten more valuable over the years because of the consistency they give and time they save designers, engineers, and product managers. They free teams from worrying about low-value work so they can focus on what’s most important.
I want mindfulness to be a bigger part of Design’s process. Too often, we don’t listen enough (e.g. stakeholders, users, teammates, or ourselves) nor do we spend time just sitting with a problem. Instead, we often move to force a problem into a certain process or let our biases run wild. Sure, you can get a solution that way, but a little mindfulness can help us get there quicker and with less hassle.
Last year we focused on scaling ourselves and our clients, particularly the engineering teams. We don’t see that stopping anytime soon. While many companies enacted hiring freezes in the first half of 2020, many of our clients continued to thrive and needed additional support to create more balanced teams. We also partnered with a few scaling companies to find the best leaders to drive their teams to another level of excellence, especially in the realm of engineering.
Since we’re trying to make decisions off of the world that we live in and not the one that we want to live in, we acknowledge that remote work is here to stay. Talented software engineers continue to remain extremely desirable in the market across many industries, and therefore have more negotiating power to stay remote. They’ve proven themselves resilient to working in distributed teams, and many want to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
Many companies that forecast returning to the office will have to tailor their offerings to the needs and desires of their engineers. Remote work has created a rich playing field for talent—recruiting experts regardless of their location will be a huge asset to many companies in the future. And with Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity initiatives becoming more and more integrated into sourcing and hiring practices, leaning into the remote nature of the future of work allows for adding a wealth of expertise and experiences, regardless of geographic location.
We also anticipate that technical assessments of expertise will lean into problem solving, rather than testing on specific tech languages. Our team relies on sourcing engineers, product managers, and designers who rely on best practices because we know that they are more agile, adaptable, and resilient to unexpected challenges. Being able to accurately assess an individual’s eagerness to learn and hone a craft, rather than their affinity for trendy technology or languages, better evaluates how they will multiply the value of the team they join.
When I think about opportunity and growth in product in 2021, there are three categories that stand out: Entertainment, Healthcare, and Connection. In-home entertainment took many forms, but 2020 brought the explosion of streaming platforms with the Hulu and Disney+/ESPN+ bundle, the launch of Peacock, and originals from Apple. On the other hand, the best thing everyone watched last year was Tik Tok, so I can’t wait to see what the next must-see, non-premium content destination and creation vehicle will be in 2021.
Healthcare also saw a huge expansion in its virtual services in 2020 (albeit through a fairly disjointed experience) by using multiple apps to manage scheduling, attending appointments, and receiving treatment. The biggest win was getting people’s trust though, which opens the gate in 2021 for innovation in prescription delivery and at-home testing (of more than just Covid-19).
Finally, when it comes to connection whether it’s a personal desire to be in touch with your friends and family, or a professional need to work with your team, the tools that help us connect and collaborate became wildly important in 2020. Frontrunners in the space, like Zoom and Slack, pulled ahead quickly, but there are tons of new products popping up, like Hopin for conferences, and new uses of existing platforms, like using Twitch to live stream DJ sets from all over the world. 2020 showed us that we can work well while apart, but there are still so many things that could be better and I can’t wait to see what new tools arrive on the scene to make work and socializing even better in 2021.