ACA Pulse Check 6 – Initial Findings

11 August 2022

Justine Clark provides a summary of the recent ACA Pulse Check survey findings, with stats on flexibility, employment, wellbeing and challenges, including rising material costs, supply chain problems and the increased costs of running business not matched by increased income.

ACA Pulse Check no. 6 was undertaken by 354 practices, representing over 6,567 staff. Over half the respondents were small practices, with 1-5 people, but larger practices are also well represented, with 11 respondents employing over 150 people.

The results reveal the significant impacts that the experiences of the last two years have had on the way architecture is practiced – flexibility is now both the norm and the future. The survey confirms the very tight employment market and reflects a profession that is, on the whole, very busy – 44% of respondents describe practice workload as very busy and another 32% as moderately busy. However, this busy-ness is not always reflected in increased profitability.

There have been significant increases in flexibility, in terms of both where (73%) and when work is done (51%), and a concomitant increase in online meetings and collaboration (72%). Over two-thirds of responding practices (69%) anticipate operating with flexible or hybrid working models in the long term. In contrast, only 11% see flexibility as a short-term solution and another 10% as a matter of last resort.

New staff have been employed by 60% of responding practices over the last year, and 70% report difficulties finding staff. Half the responding practices have had staff leave of their own volition, with the most common reason given being the opportunity to do different types of work elsewhere, and the second most common relating to increased salaries.

The impact of the pandemic on practice wellbeing is mixed, with almost half (47%) describing the wellbeing of the practice as about the same as before the pandemic, 25% better or much better, and 28% as worse or much worse.

A broad range of challenges are identified, with the most common being rising costs of materials and buildings, supply chain problems causing delays on site, and the increased costs of running business not matched by increased income.

Half the respondents have found that the last year has provided an opportunity to rethink how they practice, and 40% have found the potential to be more selective about the projects taken on.

Further detail on the findings will be published shortly.