Work smarter not longer

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This weeks the Architects Journal featured an article on the long hours that architects are working and how infrequently they get paid for these hours. Long hours has always been a sort of badge of honour for architects. It begins at college when the ‘all nighter’ is actively celebrated. Everyone else calls it what it is, workaholism. We have sought to actively counter this culture and are disappointed if people are regularly seen in the office after 6.30pm. Getting home to put the kids to bed is a priority.

Seeking to change this culture began for me when I was at college. I remember boycotting a project the tutors decided to ‘slot’ into a gap between finishing one major design project and starting the next. The fact that we had all worked the Christmas break seemed to have escaped them. I calculated that the limited credits available for this particular piece of course work where going to contribute less to my degree than the much needed rest. My strike action was noted but the culture continued.

At Snug we have sought to ensure that staff develop an ability to work smarter rather than longer. In part this is about giving everyone the confidence to prioritise. Knowing how to separate what is necessary from merely desirable. Architecture is after all an art and it is therefore never 100% complete. The pursuit of perfection is unattainable and the skill is to discern what is necessary in any given moment.  Taking the time to establish this saves hours of time perfecting what all to often ends up being abortive work.

We also recognise that occasionally deadlines will require overtime to be worked and the team are committed to doing what is necessary. It should not however become the norm or the necessity on a project. We therefore ask staff to take overtime off in lieu promptly. It is satisfying to see a member of the team taking the morning off to spend time with their young family having worked late the previous night.

There is no doubt a creative energy in the occasional late night sessions but in the end innovation and creativity will dry up if we allow a culture of long hours to prevail.