RIBA Guide for Architects
The Royal Institute of British Architects has published a series of guidelines in order to help architects through the current Coronavirus pandemic. This includes topics such as how to access government financial assistance schemes, managing working from home, and finding new clients via innovative, online methods. Read on to find out more.
As with any business in the UK, any architectural studio has access to the government’s furlough scheme, in order to retain their employees while they are unable to work due to the new movement restrictions. Under this scheme, the government will provide funding to pay 80% of any employees wages, up to a maximum of £2500 per month. The employer themselves may add on the remaining 20% if they wish to do so. Recently, the government has also announced the availability of an interest-free “bounce-back” loan, available to be repaid over a period of one year for small and medium enterprises. This applies even to freelance architects working on their own. Finally, architects are able to make use of the Statutory Sick Pay scheme, in the event that one of their employees were to contract COVID-19 themselves and therefore be unable to work.
It is still the case that architects are expected to work from home, and therefore many constructions have been placed on hold until the situation is resolved. Theoretically, construction work is still permitted provided that social distancing regulations and proper hygiene measures are met. However, since this is not possible in many cases, architects and construction firms have been required to secure building sites in progress, ensuring that all structures are sound, that pipes have been emptied of water and that trespassers will not be able to enter the building site.
Since construction itself has been halted in many cases, architects have made the use of this time to look at marketing their business, and going on online training courses. In particular, the pandemic has allowed many architects to take the opportunity to update their websites with more recently-completed projects, in order to attract new clients when the pandemic is over. Some architects have even chosen to reach out and offer free design consultation services to local businesses, such as those in the hospitality sector, who have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. Of course, in our increasingly-connected world, it is now possible for architects to continue meeting with clients as they would have done before. Some studios are offering “home visits” over video-conferencing platforms such as Skype or Zoom, with one camera showing the architect and the other showing the architect sketching in real time according to the potential client’s requirements. Others have also decided to offer a discount for those who commissioned work during the lockdown period.
In short, the guidance can be summed up as: take care of any potential cash flow problems by making use of the schemes the government has made available, stay at home while making sure sites have been left secure, and use the extra time to do things that wouldn’t normally be possible, while keeping new clients flowing in as much as possible given the circumstances.
If you have an architectural project idea, why not get in touch with one of our architects at find-my-architect.com today?