- Article by Stefanie Markidis
The fifth pulse check survey from the Association of Consulting Architects Australia (ACA) reveals practices are “fairly confident” about how they are rebounding from COVID-19, even finding “unexpected benefits”.
The ACA’s first pulse check conducted in mid-March 2020 showed practices were preparing to feel the pain of COVID-19’s impact on economic and work arrangements. Subsequent surveys revealed significant workflow disruptions and widespread concern about the pipeline of work.
But in its most recent survey, conducted between 22 April and 3 May 2021, the ACA found an overall improvement on the situation documented in past findings.
“Of responding practices, 12 per cent face immediate work shortages, compared to 20 per cent in Pulse Check 4,” it writes.
“Almost half the respondents (47 per cent) have six months or more work lined up, as compared to 38 per cent in Pulse Check 4.”
Of that work, the 366 survey respondents showed an increased reliance on private clients with the private residential and affordable and/or social housing sectors being the only ones to show growth. The biggest drops in activity were recorded in retail, aged care and hospitality.
“Responding practices are fairly busy overall,” writes the ACA.
“Nonetheless, notes of caution are sounded in some of the comments, which point out that for some practices, the busyness does not translate into increased profitability, and that low fees and fee cutting are ongoing threats.”
Of a more positive note was the survey’s findings on mental wellbeing and workplace arrangements.
More than half the respondents had employed new staff and reduced hours or reduced pay were much less common now than earlier in the pandemic.
Almost 60 per cent intend to make changes to ongoing working and practice arrangements with increased use of online meetings and collaboration, followed by flexible working times and working from home arrangements.
“Almost 40 per cent of respondents think their mental wellbeing is better than at the start of the pandemic,” concluded the ACA.
“Levels of business confidence and confidence in the profession are fairly positive, but there are some who are experiencing significant stress.
“Projections about the state of the profession over the next year are also mostly confident.”
The ACA represents the interests of architectural employers in industrial matters and is working hard to provide resources and support for navigating COVID-19 pandemic conditions.