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New data: London architects work longer hours than rest of UK

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New government data echoes findings from the AJ’s recent 2017 Life in Practice survey, which shows that London architects work significantly longer hours than those in the rest of the country

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for both full-time and part-time employees show the average working week in London is 33 hours, compared with 31 hours outside the capital. Over a year Londoners spend an average of 100 more hours at work than the rest of the UK.

According to the AJ’s study of nearly 500 readers (see Stressed and overworked: AJ survey shows a profession under pressure), 37 per cent of those employed full-time in London worked more than 45 hours a week, compared with 31 per cent in all the other regions. 

LDN vs UK How many hours do you regularly work a week

LDN vs UK How many hours do you regularly work a week

Only 24 per cent of full-time employees worked less than 40 hours in the capital, compared with 36 per cent of those outside London.

Ronald McQuaid, professor of work and employment at the University of Stirling, told the BBC that London’s young demographic, high cost of living and concentration of ‘higher-skilled work’ had created a culture of longer hours in the capital.

Comments:

Su Butcher, digital strategist and former practice manager
There are several things that concern me [about this culture of long hours]

  • How are architects expected to have a good healthy life outside of work when they are routinely working these long hours?
  • Is there any justification for them to be working ten hours more than the norm for no extra pay? I think not. I would call it exploitation, and a sign that the business is being badly run.
  • The long working hours culture is a pernicious disease, but it can be overcome. I’ve worked in practices that refused to subscribe to it - and all the offices I worked in were commercially successful.

The responsibility to deal with this must lie with the business owners, who must be explicit to their staff that long hours are not needed or wanted; otherwise staff will think it is expected of them. Business owners need to learn how to better manage the business so they aren’t exploiting their staff and overworking themselves.

The problem is that many architects in practice don’t have the business skills to do this, and aren’t willing or able to take responsibility to change. The RIBA is working, through their ambassador for business skills, Chris Williamson, to change this. But it will take a long battle to change the profession to recognise that long working hours are neither necessary nor desirable.

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