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RIBA COVID-19 survey: executive summary

How is the crisis continuing to impact the profession? Read the summary of findings from our second survey.

26 May 2020

The findings of our second COVID-19 survey show the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the personal and professional lives of architects.

In this video, our Public Affairs Manager, Lucy Monks, and Head of Economic Research, Adrian Malleson, discuss some of the findings from our latest survey of the profession.

People

Seventy four per cent of people who took part are working entirely from home, and a further 10% are largely working from home. Regular home working also seems more common in larger practices. All those from practices with more than 100 staff reported working entirely from home, whilst for those practices with fiver or fewer members, the figure was two thirds.

In addition to the transition from office to home-working, participants told us:

  • as school closures continue, almost a quarter (24%) are having to take on additional caring responsibilities
  • a majority (56%) are having to deal with reduced income, whether personal or household income
  • 14% have been furloughed and 27% have reduced hours. At the same time, one in five are working more hours than before
  • 39% said their mental health is being impacted by the lockdown
  • 20% said they are feeling isolated

You can find guidance on how to look after your mental health and links to free support here.

Practices

Sixty one per cent of participants said their physical place of work had closed and practices that remain open tended to be those with fewer staff. For some (17%), adapting to home and remote working is proving difficult. For others, the change in working patterns has accelerated innovation, with 37% reporting finding ‘new and better ways of working’.

The survey also showed the ongoing economic impact of the pandemic: 58% reported fewer new business enquiries and 53% reported a decreased workload. This seems to be having a direct effect on cashflow, with 57% of practices saying they were experiencing a cashflow reduction.

Many said they were uncertain about future work. This supports the findings of our most recent Future Trends report, which saw workload expectations hit an historic low.

There has been a broad level of take-up for UK Government support packages across the sector. However, the results showed that many architects – especially the self-employed – find themselves outside of the scope of these schemes. Twenty per cent of respondents said that the terms of the business rates relief scheme and self-employed income support scheme left them unable to claim. The RIBA continues to lobby the government to extend the Job Retention Scheme to part-time workers and address gaps in support for the self-employed.

Projects

Sixty per cent of respondents said at least one of their project sites had closed and project delays are also widespread.

Delays due to any or all parties within the construction team were reported by over 90% of respondents – these were similarly attributed to clients, contractors, planning officers, building control officers, and construction product manufacturers and suppliers. In terms of cancellations, 48% of respondents said they experienced project cancellations due to the client, compared to 12% due to main contractors and 10% due to sub-contractors.

The survey closed on Monday 15 May and received 430 responses from architects and students.

The RIBA have published a response to the survey findings including a statement from CEO Alan Vallance.

Read the findings from our first COVID-19 survey

The RIBA remains committed to responding to the needs of its members and will carry on providing the information, guidance and support they need. Members with any concerns are encouraged to email info@riba.org.

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