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20/20 = no more 40 hours?

  • 1.  20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-03-2020 16:54
    Now that we have seen we can work from home more effectively than some thought - which involves a looser rein on employees than some supervisors have been comfortable with - do you think the traditional 9-5 40(+) hour work week is a thing of the past? Will that improve or hurt staff morale, firm profitability, & project quality?

    ------------------------------
    Scott Knudson AIA
    PMKC Leadership Group
    ------------------------------
    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 2.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-04-2020 18:36
    It will change the nature of Professional Practice and allow all of us to work to the benefit of projects, 7 days a week, rather than to the artificial regimen of 9-5 jobs.

    Ronald Filson
    Professor and Dean Emeritus


    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 3.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-08-2020 12:42
    7-days a week! Isn't that stepping back to "sweat-shop" days?  We have vivedly demonstrated that with advances in new documentation, and collaboration technology we can work highly productively remote and see productivity on an real-time basis. 7-days a week - really?  Is that an idea that could be presented to students in or coming into architectural eductaion?

    ------------------------------
    Michael Katzin AIA
    President
    Michael Katzin Project Services, LLC
    Johns Creek GA
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 4.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-08-2020 12:54
    Not necessarily 7 days a week but working with the flow of a project; sometimes intense, sometimes just with the project rolling around in the back of the mind- as a Principal does. Give staff the freedom to be creative and performance increases and people will, I think, assume more responsibility.

    Ronald Filson
    Professor and Dean Emeritus


    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 5.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-08-2020 12:58
    Thanks for the added information.  Can make great sense for project workflow when applicable or needed.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Katzin AIA
    Michael Katzin Project Services, LLC
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 6.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-04-2020 20:55
    Looking at this thing from a larger perspective what does it mean for urban development, mass transit, et al.  It's possible to imagine an entirely different future for many things.  Unfortunately it's come at a time when we are culturally averse to almost any new ideas. Unless we find something that shakes us up enough to awaken us from the ossification we seem determined to embed ourselves in, I can't imagine us taking advantage of the opportunities we have to imagine a different future. 



    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 7.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-05-2020 11:17
    I foresee a variety of new and innovative professional practice models arising out of the crisis...especially now that firms have experienced and many have embraced remote working.  Firms are beginning to see how it can increase firm profitability.  Staff have found that they can be more efficient, control their working hours and enjoy a healthy work-life balance.  For nine years now, I have had no employees... After the Great Recession I formed Macrae ARCHitecture, a national virtual firm where all collaborators are independent contractors. The Virtual Architectural Practice Model has been called "An Incubator of Solopreneurs". In the probable, post COVID-19 recession...I now call it, "Resiliency for Architecture Firms".    pmacrae@macraearchitecture.com www.macraearchitecture.com

    Reach out if you want to discuss further.



    Peter
     
    Macrae ARCHitecture, LLC
     
    Peter S. Macrae, AIA
    Principal
    "MARCHing with a different perspective"
     
    74 Orchard Drive
    Worthington, OH 43085
     
    614-205-6805 phone
    614-848-8113 fax
     



    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 8.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-06-2020 18:08

    Do you think the traditional 9-5 40(+) hour work week is a thing of the past? Will that improve or hurt staff morale, firm profitability, & project quality?

    That is a question our executive committee has been discussing and a topic I recently moved down to our Leadership group.  For some, yes, I think the normal 5 day work week is a thing of the last.  Our firm has always had a 4-1/2 day work schedule and we just recently changed it to a 4 day flex schedule with Friday mornings working remotely.  We simultaneously moved all internal meetings to Friday mornings rolling from staff meetings to studio meetings to Leadership meetings to our Director meetings.  Once a month we blend in full company wide staff and Partner meetings.


    We seldom scheduled Friday deadlines in the past so Friday deadlines really isn't a problem with our schedule.  This has allowed us to go to a 4 day work week.  Now for the other part, the bulk of our staff is still working remotely and although I do sense we have a more flexible staff (which we were already with multiple remote full-time workers) working for more PMs across the firm, I also sense a reduction in production quality, firm led continuing education, brown bags, personal growth, individual camaraderie, and general social interaction.  To date we have not seen an impact to firm profitability but we have heard many comments from our staff that they are positively feeling financial results with less lunch, travel, and clothing expenses.  They've expressed extreme interest in maintaining these attributes and continuing to work remotely.

    My biggest concern is the education of my staff, especially the new interns.  We have few individuals under 2 years experience with most between 5-20+ years.  The more experienced staff members are doing fine but I am concerned about their future growth and development.  New interns - that is going to be a MAJOR challenge for us as well as for the profession as a whole.


    The impact to our social interaction and company morale is yet to be determined, but I fear negative effects.  
    These are issues upon which I am intensely focused.



    ------------------------------
    Scott Roselius AIA, NCARB
    CEO/Partner
    Heights Venture Architects, LLP
    Houston TX
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 9.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-07-2020 18:57
    Edited by Nea Poole 09-07-2020 19:10

    Scott:
    I share many of your concerns. Like you my staff is singing the benefits of working from home and to them this is a time of increased efficiency and profitability for the reasons you mentioned; however, I am not at all convinced reality is matching their perception and I am deeply concerned about the growth of all employee, collaboration and the incredibly beneficial day to day interaction folks get in person.

    As far as employee efficiency while we are still hitting deadlines, coordination is clearly suffering. Moreover I have noticed increasingly employees are unavailable for mandatory company wide Friday afternoon happy hour zoom calls. Most claim issues like deadlines/work issue but when we were all in the office there were never this level of folks not attending Friday afternoon catch ups. I strongly suspect Friday afternoon starting the weekend early-itis. The number of times I have reached out to an employee and gotten no response is concerning.

    Then with younger intern, their professional education must be lacking even at the simple level of not being in a studio overhearing senior folks discussing and solving all sorts of problems. Which brings me to the senior folks. In a studio setting one might overhear a phone call or a discussion with a team and recognize the issue and jump in with a solution to solve BEFORE anyone asks for help saving God knows how many hours of the second team trying to re-invent the wheel.

    I understand why people are embracing this, I totally get the allure of flexible hours, flexible schedules especially for younger employees and employees with young children. Architecture use to be called "the old man's profession" because there was so much to know, so much to learn that one was old before one was truly at the height of their career. I simply do not see the sharing of knowledge that is necessary for younger people to thrive in an any schedule/work from home model. Remoteness removes the simple human interaction...the cliched but real small talk at the coffee pot or over lunch that bonds folks. This cannot be replicated on a zoom call. Once that bonding and the friendships that spring from it start to fall away, employees and co-workers are no more than a means to an end, not a beloved team member. The entire dynamic of our profession changes if our teams are held together only by email and zoom.

    Architecture is a profession where school teaches you very little in terms of real professional skills and one's apprenticeship is fundamental to professional development. It is also a profession of interaction, collaboration and shared ideas. While working in an office (mostly) on a 9 to 5 schedule 5 days a week may seem like a quaint idea to some, if there is not a base line of in person interaction in architecture we will see a stratification in the profession between the more experienced folks who can lead/design/direct projects based upon their years/decades of experience and a younger generation that is ill equipped for stepping into leadership rolls.

    I cannot wait for this covid era to be over.



    ------------------------------
    [ Nea May] [Poole] AIA
    [Principal]
    [Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC]
    [Midlothian, ] [Virginia]
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 10.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-08-2020 01:20
    A number of you have described the phenomenon of a dichotomy between staff and management perceptions of the success of home working.  From a management perspective there is a concern that staff are not absorbing the cultural indoctrination (if you will) that happens with closer contact, more constant interaction, and clear, more frequent direction  about office cultural/professional expectations on the part of management and the profession.
    I think what you're expressing is part of a larger phenomenon that is a product of broader societal trends: self absorption; a reliance on social media for interpersonal contact in lieu of direct communication; a lack of appreciation for working toward common goals for the betterment of all vs a what's in it for me attitude.  
    From my perspective you're fighting an uphill battle with much larger implications than the success of an individual practice or even the profession.  There is much about our current moment in history to be pessimistic about.  I hope you have the wherewithal to prove me wrong. 

    Eugene Ely 
    AIA Emeritus. 



    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 11.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-10-2020 10:03
    "do you think the traditional 9-5 40(+) hour work week is a thing of the past"

    This discussion seems to have drifted towards more concern about how we work versus when we work. So back to the original thought.

    In 23 years, I don't know that I've ever worked a 40 hour work week. The first week I ever worked was 52 hours as we were on a deadline. And since then, I cannot recall a time when my work week was less than 40 unless I was on vacation. So I don't foresee the length of time changing for firms and their employees. However, what I do see happening is changing how those hours are worked. Once we've returned to a more office-oriented work flow - even if that means working in office and remotely - firms will need to look at whether having a set schedule is really the best and most productive method for achieving their goals. Firms will need to be more flexible in how employees arrange their days and allow for the times when someone needs to step out and attend to something personal without making a big production about it. Or allow for the employee who doesn't function well at 8 am but can roll in at 10 and be a workhorse that leaves after 5 or 6.

    My husband has worked in the HR field for 20+ years, mostly on the consulting side. Staff reporting up to him have always been treated with the approach of making sure their work and projects are completed; and if they can do that in 30 or 35 hours, then great. Or if it takes 50, that's okay too. There's no reason architecture shouldn't be able to look at work the same way.

    ------------------------------
    Larry Paschall AIA
    President/CEO
    Spotted Dog Architecture
    Dallas TX
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 12.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-08-2020 18:09
    Hi Nea, I could not agree more with all you have expressed about your concerns related to your team working remotely.  As if smart phones weren't already deteriorating our social intercourse and stifling personal face-to-face interaction, Covid-19 has doubled the problem.  

    Sadly, as much as I share your desire to have this pandemic over and done with, it likely will be well into next year, if not longer before the medical and scientific communities 'put a firm, well-sealed lid on it'.

    So, our profession faces an equally compelling foe in preserving our core values and our close relationships.

    I wish you and your firm continued success through all of this.  

    Stay safe, stay healthy. 

    Regards,
    Steve

    "Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value." – A. Einstein  

    MANAGEMENT CONSULTING SERVICES
    Steve L. Wintner, AIA Emeritus
    281.723.2090 (O), 512.943.8714 (H)
    Georgetown, TX 78633-5712








    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 13.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-09-2020 00:13
    I think culture and training are two separate issues.

    I think the cultural issue is resolvable by effort by management.  My immediate supervisor initially set up a daily check-in (now just twice a week).  As such our team of six has maintained pretty good esprit de corps through this time apart - though to be honest, we had it pretty good before the pandemic.

    To be frank, if there are cultural issues coming to the forefront, I would be bold enough to speculate that there were pre existing issues simmering underneath the surface that were masked over because of the local officing arrangements.  Remote may be illuminating a problem within the team, and it might not contribute to fixing the issue, but I doubt it is to blame.  Even if remote arrangements are actively exacerbating one's cultural problems, I would note that there are a lot of resources on the web that discuss cultural management in remote teams (check out the software development community, something like the Basecamp team).

    However for training, I just cannot imagine how a young intern will effectively learn our profession working remote.  Like others have written, I am really concerned about the loss of the local transmission of knowledge.  There is so much "this is how we do it" off handed remarks, overheard phone conversations, and just watching the boss redline the drawings in front of you, that I don't see being transmitted in a fully remote environment.  We were all complaining about declining drawing quality before the pandemic, so I guess COVID isn't fully to blame, but I see no way for the next generation to reverse this trend if remote work becomes standard.

    And that's before considering the basic problem of  what 21 year old comes out of college with reasonably effective work habits (thank god I came into this career when the most distracting item in my pocket was a sony walkman radio!)...but now I'm starting to sound like a curmudgeon.

    Justus
    --
    510.301.8721
    Architect, LEED AP



    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 14.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-10-2020 21:46
    One of my architectural firm clients has added a number of staff members during this pandemic.  They have renegotiated their lease and have expanded their space so everyone has a seat - if and when they feel compelled to return to the office.  The Principals believe staff of all experience levels benefit personally and professionally from the intimacy of in-office interaction, and also believe their investment in providing this landing pad is a differentiator for attracting and retaining the best of the best.

    ------------------------------
    James Ruehl AIA
    Principal
    Ruehl + Associates
    Excelsior MN
    Ruehl + AssociatesPrincipalPrincipalPrincipalRuehl + AssociatesRuehl + AssociatesAIA
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 15.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-09-2020 17:43
    Again, so well said. I believe nothing will replace the experience of collaborating in person and passive learning from conversation and things happening around us on projects we are not involves with. At the end of the day the ones that will loose out are the same ones that are advocating this "new normal" of remote work. Once the connection between ownership/management and staff and severed along with the culture we have worked so hard to establish, business owners may turn to even more remote working models where overseas teams can do the work at reduce costs. What would have been a huge leap for some companies may become easier to do if remote work becomes more common. I personally hold out hope for a return to working together.

    ------------------------------
    Robert Lopez AIA
    President/Owner
    Lopez Salas Architects, Inc
    San Antonio TX
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 16.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-10-2020 10:09
    Have you thought of a Thursday happy hour instead? Like most people, my brain is pretty much shutting off around 4 on a Friday afternoon. The only reason I could see attending a Friday afternoon happy hour would be if I was in the office. And in that type of environment, you have a captive audience. As an employee, I would feel obligated to attend. So maybe it's recognizing that people are ready to start their weekend a little early, allowing for that, and using another day for catching up.

    ------------------------------
    Lawrence Paschall AIA
    President/CEO
    Spotted Dog Architecture
    Dallas TX
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 17.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-08-2020 18:10
    I don't think the 40 hour workweek will be completely abandoned, but the firms that hope to put it in the rearview mirror have to establish and maintain a culture of remote communication to stay relevant and keep the studio effective, profitable, and connected. It seems like a kind of hybrid model of remote/in-person would be the most flexible to adopt, particularly to advance that flexibility to colleagues who want it and are unwilling to "go back."

    I'm seeing a lot of responses from concerned partners and principals that the "coffee pot / water cooler" talk is absent, that the deskmate leaning over to hear a conversation or see a screen is absent, that inexperienced staff are being left behind, but I'm not hearing about the introduction of remote communication efforts to fill in the gaps these in-person interactions have left.

    The office culture is determined by the behaviors and values of the senior management and staff. As vice principal at my firm I spearheaded the adoption of Slack as one of the means to keep our satellite offices interconnected long before the pandemic, and my fellow VP spearheaded the adoption of MS Teams right at the time of the first stay-at-home order. The two of us were setting the expectations of communication within the firm and for the most part our colleagues have followed suit. We've also rolled out a new QA/QC process to help address some of the project quality concerns without having senior staff in person and nearby to keep a weather-eye out, and are using Slack and MS Teams to facilitate this process, further reinforcing their use for communications. The old ways aren't available right now, so we've had to come up with new ones, and we're still experimenting with what works best for us.

    Regarding the divide between manager and staff perceptions, if my subordinates are not available and responsive in the ways I expect, the burden is on me as the manager to make sure my expectations are not just received but understood, especially with young and inexperienced staff members. If I can't be there in person to guide a new designer at their desk in the office, the burden is on me to find another way to make that guidance happen. I'd also challenge Mr. Ely's take on the "product of broader societal trends." I don't think that the fresh-out-of-school folks who are just entering the workforce are resistant to learning from senior staff or being a part of a team to achieve a shared goal. I don't think that's the case of any generation, frankly. I do believe that the newest workforce generation is uninterested in sacrificing their well-being and personal opportunities just to benefit an employer, and I don't think that's a bad thing. So how do you promote the office culture to match these changing outlooks at the personal level?

    ------------------------------
    Rachel Oleinick AIA
    Chicago IL
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 18.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-09-2020 19:49

    " I do believe that the newest workforce generation is uninterested in sacrificing their well-being and personal opportunities just to benefit an employer".

    If this indeed is the new normal I think you will find employers unwilling to sacrifice anything for their newest employees; they will be given the loyalty they exhibit, moving from treasured team member to disposable cog in the machine.



    ------------------------------
    [ Nea May] [Poole] AIA
    [Principal]
    [Poole & Poole Architecture, LLC]
    [Midlothian, ] [Virginia]
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 19.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-10-2020 01:44
    "If this indeed is the new normal I think you will find employers unwilling to sacrifice anything for their newest employees; they will be given the loyalty they exhibit, moving from treasured team member to disposable cog in the machine."

    The language of sacrifice and loyalty is ill placed for a business endeavor.  It was just a decade ago when we saw the mass layoffs as the great recession hit.  When the chips were down, it became pretty clear that all of us are ultimately disposable cogs.

    Instead of sacrifice or loyalty, I believe that thinking in terms of barter and exchange is a healthier model for all parties.  The employer offers money, training, and project experience.  The employee offers their time, skills, and conscientiousness.  One hopes that the trade is profitable for both parties for a long duration, but realistically we always only a couple weeks (or minutes!) away from a big change.


    ------------------------------
    Justus Pang
    Nevada State Public Works Division
    Las Vegas NV
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 20.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-10-2020 14:10
    Justus, I believe your example of trading time for dollars is unfortunately the thinking process of younger professionals and inline with the Millennial thought process of Tim Ferris' book The 4-Hour Work Week. Your model makes sense but not necessarily the business model most firm owners would prefer. That type of arrangement lends itself for contract employment, but most of us are trying to build cohesive teams of professionals where sacrifice and dedication still means something and is mutually benefiting to both employer and employee. Most of us still believe that our greatest assets are our people. I think the point was that unless you have owned a firm, its hard to know the level of commitment and dedication most of us have for our staff, we are seeing a shift in the loyalty and commitment some younger professionals extend to their firms. It just may be the "new normal", I hope I am wrong. We love our people and know that our success is largely based on their efforts and commitment to great work.

    ------------------------------
    Robert Lopez AIA
    President/Owner
    Lopez Salas Architects, Inc
    San Antonio TX
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!


  • 21.  RE: 20/20 = no more 40 hours?

    Posted 09-10-2020 09:46
    Rachel - You took the words right out of my mouth.  Thank you!

    Jason

    ------------------------------
    Jason Nordling AIA
    Principal
    BWBR
    Saint Paul MN
    ------------------------------

    Open: Call for applications deadline November 6. Learn more and apply to join the PMKC leadership!