Impact of Covid-19 on Architects' Workloads
At The Fees Bureau we specialise in providing architects with timely, essential business management information.
Our new edition of Architects Markets shows how past recessions have impacted the profession and what lessons there might be.
Economists at the IMF call this period The Great Lockdown. We have taken a detailed look at the wealth of data from the architects’ workload surveys to analyse past patterns and identify clues as to how the undoubted recession will eventually turn out.
The architects’ workload data goes back to 1964. That gives us data for the architectural market that covers three major recessions, two of which – the 1973/4 oil price crash and the 2008 Financial Crisis – were relatively sudden events. The Covid-19 crisis was undoubtedly even more sudden and created a much larger shock to the economy.
The experience of past recessions is that architects’ workloads fall quicker and further than both construction output and the economy overall. Typically, it takes about four years for architects’ workloads to start to pick up, that is a year longer than it takes for the economy as a whole. And if we’re looking to see how long it will be before we reach the pre-recession peak, there is little to celebrate. Examining data from the three major recessions shows that it takes an average of ten years for architects’ workloads to return to their pre-recession peak, about twice as long as it takes for the wider economy.
The single positive is that, because the Covid-19 recession came on so very suddenly and rapidly, it may be that past patterns of recovery may experience an accelerated timeline. Careful monitoring of future architects’ workload statistics in our quarterly publication ‘Construction Futures’ will provide the answer.