Stay at home orders have been issued for a vast majority of the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. More stringent social distancing measures, coupled with economic uncertainty, continue to impact how industries including architecture conduct daily operations. A growing number of public projects around the United States have been suspended by state and federal officials, creating challenges for many firms. Architects have always had to face a variety of different challenges in their daily lives ranging from grappling with political issues and new regulations to keeping up with the progress of technology and bridging the generation gap. Here are some of the ways COVID-19 has changed daily life for architecture firms and how firm leaders are adapting to overcome recent short- and long-term challenges.
Improving Telework Infrastructure
Many of the daily routines that took place in traditional office settings have moved online. More firms are communicating remotely with drafters, modelers, and rendering specialists to keep the workflow moving forward. Department leaders are conducting daily operations calls and virtual town halls to ensure that employees are staying safe and productive. It’s important to note that an effective telework policy requires the right infrastructure to be successful. For instance, employees need laptops, access to company files and intranet, etc. Make sure that there is a standardized platform of communication so that there is an efficient flow of information from the office to remote workers.
Hiring More Contract Workers
The daily lives of design recruiters have changed as well. Some firms are focusing more on hiring freelancers or contract workers on an as needed versus onboarding additional full time employees during this pandemic. Freelance designers are the more cost-effective option and still have the required expertise that employers are looking for.
It’s not a question of if the demand for new buildings will return but when. Leaders should be prepared for some of the human elements that could linger long after this crisis ends such as the grief from lost family members, friends and coworkers. Some employees could return to the workforce with depression, post traumatic stress disorders, etc., organizations will need proactive approaches for recognizing and helping struggling workers settle back into normal routines.
Although there are some firms that don’t have much work coming in right now, it’s still important to reassure employees that there’s no reason to panic because there are actions being taken at the federal level to protect small businesses. The stimulus bill that was recently signed into law provides expanded unemployment benefits, direct payments to many taxpayers, and financial incentives for companies to keep workers on their payrolls into the foreseeable future.
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