Architectural Work Cultures Survey Update

15 August 2021

Great news! The recent Architects & Wellbeing survey had a huge response, doubling its target, with more than 2100 participants.

Thanks to all ACA members who participated in this important industry survey. The ACA is proud to support the research project Architectural Work Cultures: professional identity, education and wellbeing, and we’re delighted that it has attracted such strong interest and participation within the profession.

There was a good geographic spread with participants filling in the survey from all around the country. There was also a good age spread, with respondents including very new and also very senior practitioners. Respondents were roughly 60% women and 40% men with a number of trans and non-binary participants.

It’s still early days for the survey analysis, but there are a couple of early observations to note. In answer to the (open-ended, free-text) question about what people do to support their own wellbeing, the team was pleased to see so many seeking professional help from psychologists and counsellors – encouraging a help-seeking culture and destigmatising mental health issues are important steps to make. Quite a number of people had changed jobs, in order to leave a workplace that was negatively affecting their wellbeing. Quite a number spoke about setting and maintaining careful boundaries about work hours and work expectations; and many also spoke about basic personal self-care – seeking support from family and friends, exercise, maintaining interests outside of architecture, meditation, etc.

Another interesting finding is that when asked if people could do one thing to improve wellbeing in the profession, many responses did not actually focus on self-care or self-management. They pointed to bigger-picture issues, such as raising fees and improving timeframes. The race to the bottom with fees has been a concern for the ACA for a long time, with regular advice on negotiation and the importance of setting realistic fees. See our suite of Fee and Negotiation articles. The Business of Small Practice (BoSP) is also running their next session on 25 August on Managing Fee Variations.

In the next few weeks, the Monash-led research team will release a student-focused survey and then later in the year, the team will organise a series of focus groups with a mix of people from across the profession. That will be a valuable place to collect the experiences of a wide range of voices, from different age groups, different career points and different areas of work.

The ACA will continue to bring you updates on this important research project, including further information on the survey findings. In the meantime, head to the Architects Mental Wellbeing Forum page for more ideas on improving mental wellbeing within practice.