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Architecture & Interior Design Employment and Industry Update Webinar 2021

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Webinar FRAME January 2021 Webinar Presentation Website (3)

On Thursday the 21st January the Architecture, Interior Design and Visualisation community gathered together online to hear Martin Bennell, Managing Director of FRAME Recruitment and Jack Pringle, Architect at studio PRINGLE deliver an industry and employment update.

You can enjoy the recording here:


Read the full Review here



In normal circumstances, we would not have asked a question on survey respondents employment status, but it has been clear that the pandemic has made its mark on this subject.

Overall 28% of those surveyed found themselves unemployed. A further 7% were now working in a different industry to the one they had trained for. 65% were still actively employed in the sector.

Of those who were employed, 65% had been furloughed at some point during 2020, matching our 1 in 3 statistics that we shared in our September webinar.

Notably, 35% of females who completed the survey were unemployed, versus 23% of men. Females were also more likely to have been furloughed than their male counterparts at 38% and 34% respectively.


81% of the survey respondents who answered as being unemployed noted that it was the pandemic that had caused it.

Only 10% of those who were unemployed were in the interview process for a least one job, highlighting the state of the current recruitment market.

Interestingly, 63% of those surveyed would take a pay cut for a new job. The percentage rose to 76% for those with under five years experience but dropped lower as the number of years experience increased.

Job security

For those who are still employed 63% were concerned about their job security. This increased to 73% for those who had spent any time on furlough.

Whilst the UK government’s furlough scheme has been a fantastic tool for keeping employees on the books, it is not creating feelings of positivity or confidence.

Why were employees concerned about their job security? 33% highlighted COVID-19 but this was followed closely by projects on hold and company financial troubles. Both that could be linked to COVID-19.

The true impact of Brexit is too early to call, recruitment is going to be one of the biggest challenges in the short to medium term. 7% noted this as their job security concern. Businesses are now required to obtain a licence to recruit candidates from outside the UK. EU and worldwide candidates now require a working visa, obtained on the new points-based system. All this at a time when the industry is feeling pain. Increased administration, bureaucracy and paperwork is surely not welcome news.


In our 2019 presentation of the results on retention, we were shocked to see a 7% increase in employees looking for new roles. In this survey, it has increased to 64% - a huge jump from 42% last year.

Breaking it down further, of those who had been furloughed 73% were now looking for a new role. It was also notable that the respondents with six to nine years’ experience were the most likely to be looking for a new role at 68%.

Working styles

At the beginning of 2019, only 21% of practices were offering any sort of remote working and this was predominantly part-time and offered to the most experienced and longest-serving employees.

Stating their working style before the lockdown in October, 41% were in the office full-time, 35% were remotely working full time and 24% were working a hybrid of the two.

Yet when we asked how they preferred to work 15% said the office full-time, 16% remote work full time and by far the most desired arrangement was a mix of the two into a hybrid working style.

Harvard Business School predicts that we will see a 3-2-2 working week emerge where we will be in the office three days a week, two days working remotely and two days off. Something like this could be possible in the Architecture and Interior Design industry.


COVID-19 has impacted pay this year and we have seen a decrease of up to 20% in salary offers and this has varied across locations and seniority.

The feedback from the market was there had been pay and hour cuts. We wanted to find out more. 28% experienced a reduction in pay, 9% just a reduction in hours, 21% experienced a reduction in pay and hours and the remaining 42% neither took a pay cut nor reduced their hours.

Employee engagement

Employee engagement has been a hot topic throughout the pandemic and will continue into 2021. 22% of employees felt less valued during the pandemic creating concerns over staff morale and well-being.

Only 33% of those surveyed felt their employer had shown both empathy and communicated effectively. Servant leadership styles are set to be a big part of 2021 where employers have an attitude of ‘what can I do for my employees rather than what can my employees do for me’. This new style may effectively manage the perceptions of employees to see their employer communicating better and showing more empathy.

On a positive note, 66% of respondents had faith in their employer to make the right decisions in the pandemic.

Mental health

There has been much talk about the impact the global pandemic has had on our mental health. 60% of respondents felt their mental health had been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Those who were unemployed were more likely to be affected at 64%.

Respondents also chose the top three words or phrases that best described how they felt. ‘Worried and anxious’ and stressed were the top picks. On a more positive note ‘optimistic’ and ‘productive’ were close behind.

In the survey, we asked whether the pandemic had made them reconsider their career. Whilst 64% were happy to stay in Architecture and Interior Design, significantly 36% were reconsidering their careers. This was particularly high in the group of those who experience was from three to five years.

You can also download the slide deck here.

I always welcome feedback on our findings and would be delighted if you would like to discuss any of the trends in further detail. Please contact me here.

Martin Bennell
Managing Director
FRAME Recruitment