The business went into lockdown in a really strong position with a good forward order book and, whilst a few projects have been slowed by clients, particularly those who needed to focus on their own critical operational changes to respond to C19, we have remained busy and very productive. One of our practice tenets was ‘5 studios – one practice’ which has now become ‘60 studios – one practice’ as everyone is very successfully working from home. We were already pretty adept at remote working but are now all masters in Teams and Zoom. We have also become proficient in Kahoot, which we use for our weekly Friday Social Quiz Session and our general knowledge is shaping up nicely too.

Whilst we are not attending construction sites, we have been keeping abreast of those still open through video and photographic capture. Design team meetings have shifted pretty seamlessly to video conference, seriously throwing into question the need for large groups of people to travel. Better communication and less travel has to be a much better way forward.

We are delighted that our projects with Cardiff are all continuing to make great progress. We are deep into the detailed design stage of the new Fitzalan School project which is fully benefitting from remote working technologies and BIM through a coordinated 3d model ‘in the cloud’.  The exciting latest phase of the Maelfa Regeneration which will provide high quality Independent Living through 41 ‘care-ready’ apartments is about to be tendered to contractors after receiving Planning Permission in March and we are progressing earlier stage designs with the Council for an innovative new housing facility in Adamsdown. This was one of the first projects reviewed by video conference by the Design Commission for Wales, and highly successfully too. The Council’s own switch to remote working and determination to maintain momentum on these important education and housing projects has ensured that none of them have stalled. https://www.austinsmithlord.com/maelfa-project-receives-unanimous-support-at-planning-committee/

Our practice is fully operational, we have not furloughed any staff nor reduced working time or pay. We are now developing plans for a return to our studios, which will be finalised as further guidance on timing and Covid 19 health procedures are released by Government. As we emerge from Lockdown, we will be changed people in a changed business, operating in a changed world. Aside from the increased adoption of remote working technologies, we hope that our industry will also carry forward a better ability to prioritise and a heightened desire to positively interact and collaborate, thereby fully harnessing the tremendous power of #Teamwork.