2020 has obviously been like no other and although March and April brought back memories of the global crash in 2008/9, thankfully there are now some glimmers of hope for the future. The initial stages of the crisis were about survival and maintaining existing clients. The vast majority of practices we speak to managed this stage far better than they imagined and even the most ardent detractors of home working were surprised at the successful transition. That said, once current workloads started to reach completion, maintaining a strong pipeline of new work has become harder. It will be interesting to see how this changes over the next couple of months as a number of firms appear to be targeting this period to return to the office.
End of furlough
From our perspective, it appears the architectural market has split in two. Many of the larger AJ100 practices have been relying on furloughing staff in the hope that the market returns before redundancies need to be made. Sadly, as the furlough scheme comes to an end, for a number of firms this has not been as successful as hoped and we have started to receive a dramatic increase in CVs for architects from many of the UK’s leading studios. Ironically the skills of these candidates were very much in demand at the beginning of the year. The pursuit of architects with strong Revit and large scale project experience has been replaced by the demand for self-reliant architects with strong Vectorworks or AutoCAD and experience running private residential schemes.
The big difference to 2008/9 is that the firms being forced to make redundancies often have an incredible pipeline of potential work which is just not getting the go-ahead until the outlook becomes clearer. It would not be a surprise if, in the new year, these projects start to move forward and practices will need to rehire but in the meantime can only retain staff so long in order to safeguard the future of the practice.
For smaller/medium sized studios, workload has been surprisingly strong during this period and although still cautious, many are looking to the future in positive spirits. Due to the limitations of home working, these firms are often seeking self-reliant architects who can run small projects with limited management time like this role in North London for a Project Architect. Although the majority of roles we are receiving are for junior architects, some practices are starting to look to make more strategic hires like this residential studio in North London who are seeking an operational director.
One of the trends we are seeing due to the number of redundancies is the creation of new startups. Although starting a business is always a risk, due to their low overheads, we are noticing quite a number of these are actually doing quite well at the moment. If you are however one of these people who have made the leap into running your own business and feel you could do with an occasional chat with a mentor who has already been there and done it, do let us know. We have a number of very senior architects who are nearing the end of their careers and just seeking part-time roles to help support and mentor growing businesses.
Another sector that tends to get busier during these periods is expert witness work which we are currently recruiting for a few roles. Although these will require strong experience within practice, there is a lot of retraining involved and often suits people in the middle of the career looking for a change of direction into the more technical, legal aspects of architecture.
2020 architectural salary survey
To try and build a better picture of the current situation and see how salaries have been impacted by the pandemic, 9B is conducting the confidential salary survey below. If you would like to receive a copy of the results and see how they compare to previous years, please complete the short questionnaire and we will email you once the report has been compiled.
Begin Architectural Salary Survey