The wisdom of the crowd

Because we’re all in this together…

In situations like this it's easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and become so super focused on the day-to-day challenges that we miss the opportunities.

We asked respondents to take a step back and give their advice to industry peers. What we got back was life affirming, and certainly filled us with hope.

Whether your studio is still going full pace, or you're kept awake worrying about where new work will come from, the message from those we spoke with is clear - remain positive, use your resources wisely and be open to the inevitable opportunities that will arise from this situation.

This is a time to optimise how you work as an individual architect and as a member of your team. For studio owners, there’s a consensus that now’s the time to take a hard look at where you can make your business more efficient.

This situation has forced us to pull together an understanding of what we do as a studio, what we’ve done, where we’re going and where we want to go. It’s forced us to scrutinise our own viability. As a result, I’ve pulled in consultants and built brilliant connections in places that essentially weren’t there before.

Stefan Shaw
Stefan Shaw, Stefan Shaw Studio

We’re going through a full rebranding through this time. We want to come out of this with a new positioning and a new website. We are completely relaunching and being much more explanatory about what the culture of our business is. We’ve used this time to do a full assessment of who we are and what is the essence of the business messaging.

Jo Cowen,
Jo Cowen Architects

Another interesting perspective was that architects should be prepared for the very real potential of 3 or 4 months worth of projects all kicking off at the same time when construction resumes. This release of pent up demand will lead to supply constraints as the best contractors get booked up. The most future-positive architects are still putting out tenders and lining up contractors for their projects.

At Weaver we provide access to a marketplace of peer-approved builders on a platform that automates the tender workflow. This provides us a unique insight into the health of the industry.

We saw an inevitable drop in orders but things are picking up again and we’ve done a record amount of software demos over the past couple of weeks. We’re taking this as a definite sign that architects are expecting an increase in workload, and that what the Weaver team are calling The Surge is something that ourselves and architects need to prepare for.

If you are going to be quieter, utilise everything you can to survive and prepare to get back into the market. Make sure by the time we’re all working normally again, whenever that will be, you’re actually ready to hit it hard and get out there with positivity.

Jo Cowen,
Jo Cowen Architects

Architects are problem solvers by trade and by nature, and therefore should be better than most at adapting to a new normal. As one survey respondent put it: “Approach this new challenge like you would any other design challenge”.

To conclude this report we’ve collected together the words of wisdom we collected in the survey from your fellow architects to entertain and hopefully to nourish the soul.

Grab a cup or a glass of your choice of beverage. Take your time. Feel the power of a group of smart, creative people coming together in difficult times. Be hopeful. Be inspired.

Words of Wisdom

As Bucky Fuller said, “We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims".

Take time to video call face to face with staff - motivation is so important when isolated and working from home. Keeping online and available to chat also helps - we use Tandem.

The software you choose for your business is now more important than where you work.

Arrange your days into chunks of domestic stuff/exercise/communication and actual work. Set up new routines. Take walks.

Have a virtual pint on Fridays.

Don't make impulsive reactive decisions - consider all your options and try and find the benefit in the situation.

Now’s the time to get your contractors lined up because once they have 5 tenders on the go or even 3 tenders, they’ll take the project that they want to take. Now's the time to get to work with the people you really want to work with.

Stay positive, be patient.

Create a digital community.

Keep going - we'll get through this together. Adapt and be agile to keep conversations maintained.

Try to keep the staff engaged and inspired.

Keep positive people! This too shall pass.

Keeping each other extra updated on what’s going on helps keep the team spirit alive.

Keep sane and embrace humility.

Working from home has allowed us to re-think design communication.

Look for the upsides…

Be honest, and that applies to fee proposals too.

Get a good set of noise cancelling headphones.

Adapt your ways of working with clients & come up with new ideas for carrying on with projects.

Installing Vectorworks and using its own machine is working much better than through a remote desktop.

As the Pink Floyd song has it - Just keep talking!

Start the day as if you were going to the office. Shower and maybe go for a walk before you start working.

Stay cool and calm.

Keep talking, be honest and open with your team.

Get fresh air.

It’s possible for architects to WFH.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty - It’s your choice.

Being clear about when work starts and stops.

Set aside time to educate yourself about new technologies and devices and how they can make your studio more efficient and help you better serve your clients.

Understand that there are clients worth working with, and clients who make things worse.

Take advantage of inevitable delays to invest time in design and upgrading knowledge/learn new skills.

Keep positive and promote health and wellbeing but also batten down the hatches if necessary to minimise costs.

We've realised that we need to embrace remote working and (small) group communication software now and probably from now onwards.

Stay Calm. Stay Safe. Stay Classy :)

I've learned a lot of meetings can actually be done remotely, or by telephone, rather than in person.

Fresh air is gold.

Having audio software that keeps us all in touch easily. It keeps a sense of being in the same room while using channels to allow privacy and meeting rooms, etc.

It's not all about work - use teams to chat and joke like you would in the office.

Having more time in the evening and mornings for personal life will have a positive effect on the industry as a whole!

More client's are willing to engage virtually which saves on travel time, paper and coffee!

Check in with all the team daily.

This is a fantastic opportunity for employers to realise that freedom from the office works, embrace it!

Keep morale up by using conference and video calls to keep in contact and maintain a studio style culture.

Communication, trust and flexibility are key to allow all individuals to work together in this difficult time.

Get the housework done early.

Working from home as Architects is do-able! We need to be more flexible as an industry, and allow working from home and other perks seen in other industries.

Keep. It Simple.

We could easily be working from home at least 1 day a week in future (post corona) I think it would be healthy too. Team collaboration is important though. And remember we’re all in this together!

Start the day as if you were going to the office. Shower and maybe go for a walk before you start working.

Architecture has always spanned the virtual and physical. We need feet in both dimensions to fulfil our role.

Just try and stay positive, the market has definitely taken a sharp decline, but hopefully when this is back to normal, things will pick back up in as rapid a fashion.

The increasing use and familiarity with Cloud based digital technologies, particularly video conferencing and file sharing applications, during these uncertain times is likely to become the catalyst for all companies work methodologies in the future.

This proves that meeting could have been an email!

Communication is key and ensuring that the processes are in place.

Keep physically and mentally active.

Go easy on yourself. Enjoy the flexibility and switch in and out of deep work. Set a routine for regular exercise.

Be patient, safe, improve efficiency, reduce time wasting.

Good communication and clarity is always a challenge but also the key to a happy and collaborative team.

Log off and take breathers - as a director, constant communication, and being 'immediately available' to everyone all the time is incredibly tiring!

We don't need to be in the office all the time.

Keep an open mind, laugh as much as you can and get excited about the smallest of things - these will take you through the toughest of times.

Working from home doesn't mean working 24/24. Take a break, work your hours and separate your office space from your all-day space. Creativity and performance are improved when you keep a balance between work and life!

Look for new revenue streams.

Being a firm of Chartered Town Planners we miss the buzz generated in our architects offices - Planning is dull without you guys.

Keep a clam head, don't panic, continue working.

Nothing is more important than friends, colleagues, family and love.

We're in an industry that is able and equipped to work from home, which is a privilege, unlike the workforce on construction sites.

Whilst it is not as collaborative as working in the office, we should take this time and benefit from less distractions found in the office.

Peace and Love.