Now that we’re in February, it feels like 2022 has really begun. However, with many people continuing to work from home, evolving unknowns regarding the ways in which COVID will affect our activities, and continuing staff mobility, there is an underlying current of uncertainty which needs to be acknowledged.
Having the courage to recognise and articulate our capacity and say ‘no’ when we are asked to meet unrealistic expectations is challenging for many architects. Conditioned from University to say ‘yes’ and ‘just work harder’ to achieve success, once in the workforce architects continue to be asked to work to compressed programs and tight budgets while delivering increasingly complex projects in an often adversarial environment.
As a profession we need to cultivate the ability to question expectations that work against us delivering services that meet our professional obligations and our personal standards. This is particularly true at the current time, with ongoing supply, cost and staffing challenges not necessarily being reflected in client and community expectations.
These concerns have been articulated in the Construction Culture Initiative that the Institute established with the MBA in 2020. They are not exclusive to architects and are causing reduced wellbeing and loss of skills across the sector as people look for a more balanced and affirming career path.
The good news is that I am aware of architects who have had the courage to question client requests that they believe will prevent them from delivering quality outcomes for the project. And further, that this has resulted in a review of the project that benefits the whole team – including the client.
So, in 2022, with ongoing uncertainty and volatility in the construction sector a reality, what can you do to support the viability of the profession and make it one that you feel excited to be a part of? How do you balance the demands of working with the construction sector for yourself and the people you work with? What changes would you like architects and other participants in construction projects make to improve culture and outcomes? How do you set boundaries and communicate them effectively to achieve positive results?
We will be continuing to explore these questions through the Construction Culture Initiative. The answers will enable us to better advocate for a more balanced, affirmative culture that allows us to better enjoy being architects and a part of what should be a rewarding process of creating and improving our environment.
Nicolette Di Lernia
SA Executive Director