The results of the AJ’s study into the profession’s culture of excessive unpaid overtime made for depressing, if not entirely shocking, reading
Completed by around 400 architects, the poll revealed that nearly two-fifths (38.4 per cent) of architects worked a minimum of 10 hours’ overtime every week. Mostly for free.
Among the survey’s more extreme findings were the worrying statistic that almost 10 per cent of architects said they regularly slaved for an extra 20 hours a week above their contracted hours.
Nearly two thirds said they either rarely or never received time off in lieu. And when asked how the long-hours culture was changing, 36 per cent of respondents said it was getting worse, not better.
Architects’ willingness to work long hours for ‘their art’, and the expectation that they would continue to do so, were blamed for the unhealthy but increasingly rife work-heavy lifestyle. As Glasgow-based architect Alan Dunlop explained, these expectations begin at schools of architecture, where it is still looked upon as a ‘badge of honour’ to have worked an all-nighter before arriving at a studio, crit, or review.
‘This mentality carries through into practice, and is further aggravated by the general incompetence of architects to run a business properly, to charge appropriate fees for the work required and to say no when they are being exploited,’ he said.
Meanwhile RIBA president Stephen Hodder pointed the finger at the industry’s ‘legacy of fee cutting’ leading to issues with resourcing projects. Hodder added: ‘Architects need to set realistic fees for clients that fit in with their business planning – if you undervalue your services then you undervalue your staff.’
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