Noon and Blyton define work-life balance as “The ability of individuals to successfully pursue their work and non-work lives, without undue pressures from one undermining the satisfactory experience of the other.” An existent trespass when there’s no work-life balance. The person has little to no time to pursue other interests outside the workplace. Overworking can eventually lead to the individual and their work becoming unproductive.
Burn-outs are common among architects, young and old. One of the symptoms of overwork is fatigue. It threatens creativity, productivity, and mental health, which are essential for creative individuals in the architecture industry. Architecture is notorious for long hours, rigorous deadlines, tiredness, and fatigue, roadblocks to the workforce.
Social Exhaustion | Work-Life Balance
An architect generally takes several roles, as the owner’s agent with the contractor, coordinator of an entire team of consultants, and manager of an internal team, making social interactions a large portion of the time. Projects are always complex and would pose problems, and the parties involved in solving these problems are not always pleasant to work together with. A stressful work environment is the last thing a team member would want to return to after a rough day at the project site.
According to Matthew Hallowell, one can be fatigued due to feeble social interactions with his coworkers. It isn’t just about how much sleep one gets.
The workplace should be a source of refuge rather than causing anxiety. The architecture field is filled with stories of young team members going to the bathroom to cry from frustration or seasoned project managers storming out after a long stretch of built-up bitterness. These are the results of poor interactions among the team members. Fatigue is not caused only by “lengthy physical or mental hard work”, but also by empathetic interpersonal experiences. Fatigue could be caused by being overworked and not getting remuneration for the amount of work they do. The architecture industry is notorious for underpaying professionals in the field.
The employees need to prioritize workers over the project. Knoxville-based architect Elizabeth Eason, wants her employees to work a 40-hour workweek and go home to their families or get out in the community or be active as members. “And so we try to make that the culture here,” she said in an Architect profile on her firm. One of Eason’s top precedences is limiting long hours and ensuring that her employees have the flexibility to live their lives. The employees would stay loyal, which would also result in more productivity.
Architecture is well known for unrealistic and sometimes even unnecessary deadlines. Employees are often forced to work extremely long hours at the office. The most alarming fact is that the industry is normalizing long work hours and being underpaid. Employees who can’t withstand the pressures of the industry often fall behind due to the pressures they face in an office rather than the lack of passion. Often there is little to no time for architects to pursue hobbies outside their work. Spending time with family or pursuing a hobby they enjoy is a far-fetched dream and more like a luxury to most architects.
The Cure for Fatigue | Work-Life Balance
Change begins within oneself. Architecture often demands more than an individual can do in a specific period. The same is expected in workplaces. Unrealistic deadlines force people to work overtime without proper remuneration. This often leads to several mental illnesses. It could even be the root cause of depression and other mental ailments.
The pressures of the workplace often force individuals to over-exert themselves. It also forces them to set unrealistic expectations for themselves. People need to stand up for themselves and say no to things that seem unattainable or out of their reach or ask for an extension in the deadline for completion of the work.
Despite the pressures that architects are subjected to, the cure to the bombardment of fatigue in architecture seems attainable. People need to rest, take breaks, get outside, and refresh their minds. However, this is only possible if the workplace and the environment a person is subjected to encourages the same. It is the substance of The Architecture Lobby’s Just Design action, celebrating those interpreters who have made this a top precedent. It embodies what Oprah Winfrey said: “Leadership is about empathy. It is about being able to relate to and connect with people to inspire and empower their lives.”
Leaders like Elizabeth Eason personify this ideal. Her precedence is the well-being of her staff; she’s a leader of the people. As architecture evolves, so does its culture. Hard work is crucial to produce good output; this is a given. But, as we see with numerous exemplifications, the prerequisite for excellence can be sustainable.
- Burnout, fatigue and the architecture workplace (no date) Archinect. Available at: https://archinect.com/features/article/150146929/burnout-fatigue-and-the-architecture-workplace (Accessed: December 14, 2022).
- Work-life balance among architects – researchgate.net (no date). Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ani-Raiden/publication/268147874_WORK-LIFE_BALANCE_AMONG_ARCHITECTS/links/546222f30cf2837efdafee54/WORK-LIFE-BALANCE-AMONG-ARCHITECTS.pdf?origin=publication_detail (Accessed: December 15, 2022).