AIA-covid-impact
Mental health in the industry has been highlighted. Image – Canva
  • New AIA report reveals the impact of pandemic on architects
  • Combining face to face and remote interaction with clients is the new norm
  • Many firms have adopted long term flexible working arrangements

A new report from the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) provides insight into the mixed impact of the pandemic on the architecture industry.

Julia Cambage, AIA CEO,  commended the innovation seen among practices responding to the pandemic.

“As we have learnt over the last year and a half, the world can change overnight,” Ms Cambage said.

“While the pandemic continues to affect the operation of architectural practices around the nation, this survey shows that members are responding well with agility to changing market dynamics.

Julia Cambage, AIA CEO

Researchers highlighted the importance of innovation for recovering from what has been dubbed the “collective Covid hangover”.

Encouragingly, 55% of respondents reported their client base had been retained and grown since the onset of the pandemic. Only 3% had lost and not replaced clients.

Despite this 63% of respondents recorded a decline in earnings due to the pandemic. There was also a notable slump in full time employment from 69% to 60%.

This has inevitably had negative impacts on mental health in the architecture sphere. Tony Giannone, the AIA National President, is encouraging people in the industry to look after one another:

“As leaders and responsible employers, we need to do the best we can to support our colleagues through the hardships created by this pandemic.”

Tony Giannone, AIA National President

Impact of remote interaction

The shift from in-person to remote interactions with clients had mixed results among architecture firms.

Only 10% of respondents reported relationships with existing clients were negatively impacted compared to 14% who said relationships were positively impacted.

“I actually think that it has allowed location to be less of an issue than it was pre-Covid, thus broadening the geographical opportunities for attracting and maintaining client relationships,” one respondent explained.

“Perhaps initial contact is more complex, but maintenance once engaged is positively impacted,” they said.

78% of respondents are currently networking with clients with a ‘new normal’ approach, combining online and face to face interactions,

Work flexibility

As in many industries, there is an evident shift towards remote working among architecture firms.

36% reported that they have introduced flexible work options allowing for work from home as well as in the office. This is in addition to 26% who had preexisting flexible arrangements.

On the other hand, 25% of respondents expect employees to fully return to the office eventually.

Interestingly the majority of respondents said remote working did not negatively impact creativity or design outcomes.

It should be noted that the AIA survey was conducted in July and has therefore not accounted fully for the impact of the current and ongoing restrictions.

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