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RIBA COVID-19 survey: executive summary

How is COVID-19 impacting the profession? Over the past two weeks we've been conducting a survey to understand how coronavirus is affecting architects. Read our summary of findings here.

06 April 2020

Over the past two weeks we've been conducting a survey to understand how COVID-19 is affecting the profession.

The survey, which closed on Monday 30th March, received over 1000 responses from architects, students and others working in the sector. Read our summary of findings below.

People

With much of the world in shutdown and a number of UK Government rules dictating reduced travel and social contact, it is no surprise that coronavirus is having a huge affect on people and their individual behaviors.

81% are now working entirely remotely or from home. For some this has created significant changes and challenges, with the RIBA’s survey reflecting concerns with the ability to undertake work due to the suitability of infrastructure available at home, and changes to methods of communication. Students reported concerns about the progress of their studies or progress of work to qualification.

School closures across the country has had a significant impact on many architects, with 30% saying that disruption to family and caring responsibilities impacting on their ability to work. The RIBA has been lobbying for greater financial support from Government to ease the financial burden of this shift.

45% of respondents stated that they have seen a reduction in their individual income, and many are uncertain about the future. Although the majority of architects had not yet applied for any support packages from UK Government, 16% had stated that they had applied for a mortgage holiday, potentially to ease additional personal liabilities through this period of uncertainty.

A fifth of respondents said that they have had a reduction to their working hours – with many suggesting that the move to work from home, the increased uncertainty and additional responsibilities is adding to the pressure to deliver work.

23% of respondents said they had experienced a negative impact on their mental health, with isolation and uncertainty being cited as frequent causes for this.

RIBA advice and guidance:

Practices

Many practices have already started to feel the impact of coronavirus on their practice with 59% of respondents stated that the workload for their practice has decreased, and 58% reported a drop in new business inquiries. 57% have reported this is leading to a decreased cash flow.

Respondents were asked which UK Government support packages they had applied for, and which they were considering applying for. The majority have not yet applied for any support, but 33% of respondents stated that they are considering applying for the HMRC Time to Pay Service, and a quarter of respondents stated that they were looking to apply variously to the Contributory Employment and Support Allowance, application for grants as businesses eligible for rate relief, or the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

There has been an immediate disruption to staffing, with 5% state that they are currently looking for work, and 1% report that they have been made redundant. Given that we are at the start of this disruption, many respondents stated that they expect to see more significant changes in the future.

Some architects reported concerns that they will be ineligible UK Government support under newly-announced schemes, including the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. The RIBA is continuing to raise the damage this uncertainty and lack of support will have on many practices and individuals.

RIBA advice and guidance:

Projects

Survey respondents reported widespread disruptions, with 79% reporting project delays and 37% reporting project cancellations. These delays are being caused by a number of factors, such as site closures – with 61% reporting this outcome – new delays within the planning system, and disruption caused by instructions to work from home.

18% stated that ‘other’ factors where causing delays – with common themes of meeting cancellations, taking time to plan for uncertainty, staffing changes and caring responsibilities impacting on project and productivity. Only 5% of respondents reported no impact on projects.

RIBA advice and guidance:

The RIBA remains committed to responding to the needs of its members, and will carry on providing the information, guidance and support they need.

Members with any concerns are encouraged to email info@riba.org.

Read the RIBA's response to the survey findings including a statement from CEO Alan Vallance.

What is Covid-19 doing to your business? Read the RIBA Journal's analysis of the survey findings.

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