With the government putting the UK on lockdown in an attempt to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Many architects are having to adjust to the harsh realities of working in less than ideal conditions, with reduced income and job security.
To highlight the pressure the industry is under, RIBA released a survey which reveals a precarious situation for many independent contractors and architectural practices across the country.
The survey, completed by more than 1000 architects, shows that 57% of architects saw fall in income over the last month. While many more report, reduced working hours, project delays, cancelled contracts and a fall in new business enquiries.
Key findings of the survey
59% of architects report decreased workloads
58% report a drop in new business enquiries
57% report less money coming in
81% say they are working entirely from home
79% report project delays and site closures
37% report projects being cancelled entirely
23% report a deterioration in their mental health
How are architects coping with uncertainty?
These findings are not surprising since most of the UK is on lockdown and the construction industry, despite being exempt from the restrictions, is at a virtual standstill. This leaves architects, many of whom are self-employed, exposed to financial hardship and stress brought about by seeing many years of hard work threatened.
But desperate times call for desperate measures, architects in the UK are a creative bunch who are more than capable of adapting to the realities of life under lockdown. Architectural practices are therefore being encouraged to take advantage of the government’s £350bn stimulus package to ensure business continuity throughout the crisis.
There is also hope that with many public sector buildings, schools and museums closed. Planned construction work on these facilities can be brought forward to help provide a much-needed boost for the industry.
Then there is the situation of site visits. While traditional site visits are out of the question at the moment. One solution could be to ask sub-contractors to take photo and video evidence of work which is about to be closed in. While this is far from ideal, it will allow work on-site to continue in the short term.
As part of its commitment to support the needs of its members, RIBA is asking all employers to prioritise the health and wellbeing of staff in these difficult times. It is also asking the government to extend capital allowances so that companies can purchase the equipment they need to allow employees to work effectively from home.
While it is clear the next few months are going to be difficult for many in the profession. By working with member firms and the government, RIBA hopes that the industry can emerge from the crisis in good shape.