An IES/LD+A survey on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the lighting industry reveals areas of concern and optimism for the year ahead. The survey was distributed by email to IES Members in late November. There were 1,083 responses from all corners of the industry, including designers, manufacturers, distributors, sales agencies, academia and utilities. Here are some of the major takeaways:
- Respondents have had little trouble transitioning to remote work. An overwhelming 97% say working from home has been at least = “somewhat successful.” Moreover, corporate culture has not suffered significantly. Less than 40% say it has been affected negatively.
- The flipside, however, is that professional development and industry engagement have suffered. Roughly 65% say the pandemic has had a negative effect, likely due to the pause in live events.
- Respondents hold extremely positive views on video conferencing platforms such as Zoom. A whopping 97% say these platforms have been successful in facilitating their work.
- With vaccines now available, there is cautious optimism about a return to normalcy in the lighting industry in 2021. Just over 50% foresee this by the end of the year.
- Regarding specific market sectors, healthcare projects are forecast to improve, say survey respondents, while retail, office and hospitality projects are likely to lag.
- On the technology side, respondents see promise for UVC germicidal applications over the next several months. 75% say its application is at least “somewhat likely” especially in the healthcare and assisted living sectors.
- Smart luminaires with sensors and/or app-based controls may also prove to be tools for businesses and governments seeking to encourage social distancing and manage space. Nearly 60% foresee at least one of these scenarios as at least “somewhat likely.”
Please Note: Total percentages may not equal 100% due to rounding.
THE GOODSome respondents to our survey found aspects of their lives changing for the better with new opportunities, such as the ability to structure their own work day and attend more (virtual) conferences in a year. Here’s a few responses by those who found the good:
- “With all of our employees spread across the country, we’re connected and unified more than ever!”
- “Better connection/relationships with teammates and some customers—more understanding, patience, appreciation.”
- “Opportunity to hire good people displaced by the pandemic.”
- “I’ve actually enjoyed how conferences and events that I wouldn’t have necessarily been able to attend physically in other years due to distance or work obligations now are available online and I’ve been able to participate in most. I suggest an online offer always be maintained in all conferences.”
- “I have unexpectedly been able to enjoy more time at home with a newborn and have found a better work-life balance.”
- “Awareness of what works and doesn’t work in a residential environment.”
- “Effectiveness of remote meetings was a surprise.”
- “Time-of-day no longer is an important factor. The ‘business day’ is whenever I want it to be.”
- “Our local IES Section pre-COVID would gather around 10 people for an 8 a.m. tech/compliance seminar. During COVID, with Zoom, we see over 60 guests regularly.”
- “I have created eLearning content for my company and presented to IES Members in different Sections.”
- “I have been able to utilize the commute time to complete projects. I have been able to watch more webinars and do more professional development.”
- “The pandemic has forced me to engage technology at a higher level than I would have ever imagined. Despite the setbacks related to volume of business I am working, I am much more focused than I have ever been before. The result for me has been a better client relationship.”
THE BADZoom fatigue, salary reductions and a “lack of respect for the lunch hour” are just the tip of the iceberg for the following respondents who describe the pandemic’s negative impact on their personal and professional lives.
- “The most lasting effect will be the limited amount of designers entering lighting design, as many are likely to pursue alternate careers. Much like the classes graduating during the last recession, there will be a shortage of designers in this age/experience range.”
- “Cancelled shows means customers cannot view new products like they normally would.”
- “The lack of personal interaction. While you can emulate the work environment through online meetings and conversations, you cannot change the tangible interaction with people that has been lost through the pandemic.”
- “Maintaining a safe manufacturing environment—which we have—is a full-time process.”
- “Local, state and private funding declined sharply and may be long to return.”
- “The impact of the pandemic has included reduction of staff and an overall decrease in work through stalled projects or fewer RFPs becoming projects.”
- “I was a theatrical lighting designer, but with no theaters open, there are no shows to light.”
- “Business expectations for sports lighting are delayed by 18 months to two years. Investment in new technologies is also delayed.”
- “The [remote work] day has no beginning and/or end. Work tends to invade otherwise personal time and space.”
- “Less face-to-face time with specifiers. The over saturation of the market with digital has had the opposite effect—specifiers are tired of online content.”
- “The most unexpected part of the pandemic is clearly the duration. The impact of this is the unfortunate slowdown in the markets we serve.”
- “Clients think Zoom meetings are free and don’t realize how much they cost consultants; time is money.”
- “The lack of mentoring and lack of growth by younger team members not able to see ‘how to’ on project needs.”