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Architects fear deepening of Covid-19 misery

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Further widespread redundancies are anticipated across architecture, new research shows, as the coronavirus crisis continues

More than one in four respondents to a poll run by the RIBA in May said they expected the permanent headcount at their practice to decrease by August. 

According to the institute’s monthly Future Trends Survey, more than six in 10 practices expected workloads to fall further over the three months to August, with just 13 per cent foreseeing an upturn.

The latest set of forecasts are particularly gloomy considering how much damage has already been done by the virus.

Some 38 per cent of projects have been placed on hold since 1 March, according to the poll, as clients react to the social distancing measures enforced by the government and the huge knock to the economy. Around 1 per cent of architectural staff have already been laid off across the sector.

The number of people saying they were personally underemployed due to lack of work rose to 42 per cent in May.

More than seven in 10 respondents expected profit to fall at their practice in the following 12 months. A worrying 8 per cent of respondents said their company was ‘unlikely to be viable’ by May 2021.

RIBA executive director professional services Adrian Dobson said: ‘The current pandemic and economic uncertainty are clearly continuing to impact both architects’ current workloads and their confidence about the future, with the majority expecting their workloads to decrease in coming months.

‘But while many participants continued to point to the serious recession ahead, some also began to reference glimmers of hope in the form of new enquiries and new commissions.’

Architects from almost 300 practices took part in the survey.

The RIBA last month urged practice bosses to prioritise their workers’ mental health after another stark poll showed four in 10 architects were suffering from declining mental health during the lockdown period.


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