2012-03-14

The “Temp” Designer

Many industries already use skilled pools of temporary workers. This allows employers to temporarily fill capacity or skill needs. There are many labourer pools that allow construction companies to have a more flexible workforce where they can scale capability where needed. New Zealand schools have shared pools of relief teachers. The IT industry contracts specialist workers into their customer companies. There is a business opportunity here for design studios.

The default answer for a flexible workforce in graphic design is to employ freelancers. But freelancers can be a risky hit and miss affair for companies who are less able to judge the abilities of freelancers. One solution could be for studios to provide contracted “temp” designers to their client companies. Instead of contracting by project the contract covers a temp in-house designer for set hours who works at the client premises. The designer remains an employee of the studio (not the client).

This enables a client to add capability or skills to an existing in-house design team or to have the advantages of an in-house designer with few of the downsides. The general advantages of in-house designers include; set budget, low overheads per project and quicker communication.

There are benefits for the clients that are unique to the temp. The first is that the studio provides a guarantee to the skill and ability level of the placement designer. This eliminates the risky hit and miss of hiring an in-house designer or engaging directly with freelancers. The temporary designer contract can also include some oversight; the designer is mentored by senior members of the studio. This gives experienced insight without much additional cost.

There are other benefits: the temp designer can be in the client placement part-time so that they are working alongside other designers some of the time. This will help in keeping their creative and technical skills sharp. The temp designer maintains access to advice from specialist colleagues. The studio also takes care of cover during holidays.

Where a client has an on-going need for graphic design work but cannot necessarily afford a fulltime designer then a temp designer can fill this need. Because the temp designer is probably a fulltime employee of their studio then the churn common with part-time employees is less of a risk.

Small design jobs can accumulate within a client organisation. Unfortunately the overheads in setting these up as projects under the usual studio-client relationship can be prohibitive relative to the size of the job. A temp in-house designer has much lower per-project overheads so can clear away these accumulated jobs quickly.

The temp designer is another service that a design studio can offer their clients. When used in the right situations then it can provide good value to the client and simplify the studio-client relationship for collections of small jobs. Temp designers can become another tool for the studio to keep their clients happy.