Australian architecture firms are embracing COVID-19 safety practices, the latest survey has found.

The Association of Consulting Architects (ACA) has released preliminary results of its third ‘pulse check’ of architecture practices throughout the country, for which 453 firms responded who collectively employ more than 4,520 full time equivalent technical staff and over 600 full-time-equivalent casual technical staff.

It found that most practices are either already open or are soon to reopen whilst many are embracing measures such as hygiene, physical distancing, cleaning and hygiene supplies.

All up, the survey found that:

  • Of the 398 practices who responded to a question about reopening their office, 251 or 63 percent have already reopened their offices whilst a further 94 or 24 percent intend to reopen in June or July.
  • Of the 378 practices who responded to a question about COVID safety measures 331 (88 percent) say they are adopting hygiene processes whilst 305 (81 percent) are adopting physical distancing, 269 (71 percent) are adopting cleaning protocols and 253 (67 percent) are adopting hygiene supplies. Other measures such as mental wellbeing and health monitoring are less prevalent.
  • Of the 383 firms who responded to a question about plans for returning staff, 85 are encouraging employees to remain home until further notice whilst 186 are offering individual flexibility about returning to the office. Other firms were having staff return on a rotational basis (half or one quarter), staggering start and finishing times or asking certain employees to return first. On the last point, this includes workers who need to collaborate, low-risk commuters, those without caring responsibilities and those who do not have lowered immunity.
  • Of 390 firms who responded to a question about long-term workforce arranagements after COVID-19, 209 or 53 percent said there are positive changes they will bring forward to working arrangements whilst a further 22 percent are not sure and 24 percent intend to return to previous arrangements.

Conducted over a four-day period spanning May 31 until June 3, the survey aims to enable the ACA to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on practices and how the Association can support the profession.

The latest survey comes as employers are grappling with workplace risks associated with COVID-19 as workers return to offices.

On its web site, Safe Work Australia encourages employers to adopt measures such as allowing staff to work from home, physical distancing, encouraging worker hygiene, being aware of COVID symptoms, cleaning and disinfecting and signs/posters to remind workers of measures which are necessary to prevent COVID-19 spread.