Efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have swiftly developed over the last week as we've seen New Zealand move from Level 3 on the government's Covid-19 alert system, to Level 4.
Level 4 represents a lockdown of the country, with only essential services permitted to continue. This means huge challenges for the architecture and construction industry — and the current challenges are in addition to supply chain issues from international suppliers further down the line.
In today’s blog post, I’ve put together some practical advice for the current moment, for both architects and builders. As this situation evolves, I’ll aim to write more in-depth blog posts on the challenges facing architects, builders and product suppliers today. If there are any particular challenges you would like me to address, don’t hesitate to reach out or comment below.
FOR ARCHITECTS AND DESIGNERS
Those of you working in-practice will now be working from home for at least a month, possibly longer. We know many of you had already set up procedures for working from home with some practices already starting to work from home prior to the lockdown. For others, this will be brand-new, and with little time to prepare, it is a steep learning curve.
Here’s what you’ll want to consider in your home set-up:
An adequate workspace and equipment: By now, you should already have this in place. What's most important here is that you have everything you need to continue your job, which likely includes tools and equipment from the office which you have now taken home.
Internet security: You’ll want to make sure you are using a secure internet connection and may require a VPN in order to securely connect to your company’s network (your IT team should be able to sort that out). Using a password manager (rather than saving passwords to your device) can also ensure that your company’s information is safe. The certnz website has a detailed page with tips on ensuring security while working from home.
Staff and client communications: Thanks to technology there are ample ways that staff can talk to each other and manage projects while working remotely. Some of the tools the EBOSS team swears by are Slack for internal communications, Trello for project management and Google Hangouts for meetings. Zoom is another popular tool for these. Using technologies that bring us face-to-face digitally will be important for keeping your teams in high spirits while they get through the challenges of living and working at home over the next month. For anyone interested, I'm running a webinar at 3pm today (31st March) on the digital tools we use for remote working.
FOR BUILDERS AND TRADES
This is a really tough time for anyone who can’t work remotely. Building businesses are looking at an unplanned month-long break — and possibly longer. If you’re an employee, you’ll want to know your rights and maintain communication with your employer during this time, and if you’re an employer, you’ll want to find out what assistance you are entitled to in order to keep the business running, and what you can do to prepare for the next round of challenges.
Find out what government support is available
There are wage subsidies available to businesses that can show a 30% decline in revenue for any month between January and June 2020 compared to the year before (including projected revenue). For building businesses, this means in the short-term at least employees can continue to be paid. You can find the initial press release for this here, as well as an update to this wage subsidy scheme here.
Know your supply chain
When you are permitted to start working again, you’ll likely find that the supply of products is stilted due to supply issues both in NZ and overseas. In order to prepare for these future disruptions, it’s important to know where your products come from. This means not only knowing your supplier, but their supplier as well and keeping a close eye on how that supply chain may be affected by Covid-19. We know that there will be supply chain delays, but being prepared can change the way those delays impact your building business.
Prepare your business
If you’re the business owner, this Covid-19 Business Checklist by Grant Thornton is a good starting point for working out whether you have all your bases covered during this time.
As this situation progresses, we'll continue to share key information and offer advice and support to architects and builders. If there's something you would like us to investigate or cover, feel free to get in touch or comment below.