According to the source of World Bank Blogs, the COVID-19 outbreak has caused an estimated 900 million people to remain at home. Architects and designers have been asked to work remotely to prevent the virus from spreading through the workplace and study space. It is undoubtedly a new experience for many architects. Over the past few years, we have observed how architects, manufacturers, innovators, and educators have digitally exchanged architectural designs, ideas, and experiences. Still, unpredictable remote working has made us realize that the pattern of working is hampering creativity more than technology. We’re all too familiar with the hashtag #wfh (working from home). Perhaps this is the new normal trend. Other college students, professionals, and office workers have reorganized their living rooms into working corners – but can architects do the same thing? 

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The new normal scenario in an architectural office studio_©Emma Roulette

It has become clear from the experiences that most companies do not have enough laptops; that it is difficult to coordinate CAD drawings from home because the licenses are so expensive; that one needs to print things out and sketch ideas collaboratively to explain virtually; that, even if the work laptop is available, one cannot use Revit effectively with only one display; and that site visits cannot be conducted from the couch. This is why architectural firms have not embraced flexible working as aggressively as other businesses have.

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Working from home for other professions becomes easy only through video-conferencing_©www.itworldcanada.com

There is no new normal in Work from Home

Several years ago, homeworking was on the rise. The number of people working from home nearly doubled, making it an ideal situation for IT and Technological Contributors. Many employers have also begun to recognize good reasons for their staff to work from home due to an increase in freelance contracts. Working nine-to-five isn’t suitable for everyone, especially for those with caring responsibilities or who live far from their workplace. People who are able to work but have limited mobility and many other groups can also benefit from home working.

It makes sense as an architect to base ourselves at home when a new site is far from our office but close to our home, and we can use that location to stimulate our creativity by working remotely. Additionally, a home office is the logical, cost-effective choice for architects who are self-employed.

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The new normal scenarios in an architectural office studio_©Ellie Stathaki

There is a spark at Work from Home

The evidence is not conclusive that employees working from home increases productivity. Allowing employees to work from home plays a significant role in facilitating this. Some people enjoy listening to podcasts or similar media during their commute, but many would be delighted to reduce their commute time. In addition to saving time, we eliminate the high costs of petrol or public transport tickets. Since many of us can arrange our days according to our preferences and responsibilities, we can become more self-sufficient. Furthermore, we become more comfortable, since we can take breaks in the garden or grab a snack from the fridge whenever we like. A happier work environment will produce more logical and creative results.

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Students creating own studio at home_©www.istockphoto.com

Working at home for Architecture Students

Honestly, some subjects are more complicated to study at home than others. Practicing subjects like architecture will always be challenging since it requires both creativity and practical knowledge, but it is certainly not impossible to preach without interaction. Effective working from home requires more than just appropriate equipment and software as an architecture student. This requires considerable self-discipline to adapt to a new way of working and still service society on the right foot.

Following these new circumstances, we must have realized that setting self-schedules and following them can result in more efficient working as architectural students. Sketching while watching the sunset in the balconies can produce more creative results. There is also the issue of the community as a social being. Sharing ideas with our colleagues can be difficult when working in isolation. To encounter this, we have adapted to stay in touch with video conferencing apps with our colleagues and friends, enhancing the introverted quality of working from home for an architect.

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An offset located café as an architect’s time based studio_©Ellie Stathaki

Can Architects become Location-independent?

Work from home offers more freedom than working in an office, no doubt. However, going one step further with location-independence: working from a home office could be a fancy beach hut in January and a traditional farmhouse in July. Today’s generation has adopted traveling as a motive as it is surrounded by nature; we cannot deny this fact because cities have uprooted this. Work and travel can be combined in this way for many people – but can architects ever be truly location-independent? 

The answer is yes. However, one needs to prepare carefully. Discipline is the key to meeting deadlines in this profession and putting an end to creativity. Travel and work must be balanced with this approach, but it will undoubtedly be a wholesome, creative experience. Mobile architects can be a future where creativity is nurtured over deadlines and imagination is rewarded with faster technology!

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Work from home as an active lifestyle to be pursued_©www.p3recruitment.com.au

Tips on Excelling

For many architects, working from home may have seemed impossible in the past, but today’s technology has made it possible – even enjoyable. There might be a reluctance to return to our old routine, even if we were forced to work from home for public health reasons! 

Having said this, here are a few tips to excel as an architect molding with the new normal ideology overruling your prospects of working days, weeks, and months.

  • Make the most of your day

The first half of the day often sets the tone for the rest of the day

  • Designate a work area

Creating your home workspace is exciting because it involves collaborating with furniture and dressing with color palettes with natural light and air. Thus, an inspiring personal workspace sets the goal

  •  Take advantage of the flexibility

We can plan our days on our own terms when we work from home. By integrating our body, mind, and soul, a routine can be a flexible way of getting focused

  • Establish a regular cut-off time

Making a clear psychological distinction between work and leisure is essential. If working is necessary, so are breaks. 

  • Take time to relax

We who work from home are often told we are lucky, but in reality, we often experience many of the same stresses as office workers or college students. We cannot escape deadlines, but if we do deadlines with yoga and meditation as official breaks, we can shape ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally, so there are three birds in one stone, isn’t it?

The reality is that work from home requires discipline. One must be determined, consistent, and kind to oneself. As much as possible, we need to take care of our physical and mental health, talk with real people, and accept that our working conditions will differ from those in an architectural or in-office studio. 

As long as we remember this, we can thrive from the comfort of our living rooms!

References:

  1. Dezeen. (2020). Working from home “the new normal” for architects and designers. [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2020/04/01/architects-designers-working-from-home-coronavirus/.
  2. Vasquez, A. (2021). Best Work From Home Practices For Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.architecturelab.net/best-work-from-home-practices-for-architects/
  3. www.architecturalrecord.com. (n.d.). Architects Share Best Practices for Working from Home. [online] Available at: https://www.architecturalrecord.com/articles/14546-architects-share-best-practices-for-working-from-home.
  4. www.wellfedpodcast.com. (n.d.). Can Graphic Designers Work From Home? [online] Available at: https://www.wellfedpodcast.com/article/can-graphic-designers-work-from-home
  5. Anon, (2020). How to Work From Home as an Architect – archisoup | Architecture Guides & Resources. [online] Available at: https://www.archisoup.com/studio-guide/working-from-home.
Author

Neha Lad, an Architect soon to be, adds a taste of design and creativity to the world of Architecture enhancing Nature as an added sweet dish, bringing unique flavor to the norms of Biology. She aspires to become an architect who depicts life in harmony with nature, where writing is her predominant mode of expression.

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