The Friday coffee and bagel tradition continues. Today, the conversation was so good that my bagel got the best of me. I couldn’t finish it in time, had peanut butter running down my fingers, couldn’t finish my coffee, it was a mess.
Projecting workload is worse right now than I’ve ever seen it. I don’t mean that I have less work – I’m swamped, and there’s money in the bank, but getting guarantees on new work, or forecasting expectations more than a month is impossible. Over the last week, I’ve been starting the day not even knowing if meetings that were tentatively scheduled for that day would happen or not. I had a conference call this week scheduled for 3pm and at 3pm I received an email that the call had been rescheduled. Partners for projects are backing out for lack of confidence, clients are reconsidering design of work already in construction, venders may or may not be available.
And, I’ve missed meetings recently, and I’m chronically conditionally late, and I’ve cancelled on short notice, and I get it. I know why these things happen. However, in the past, it has always been me who couldn’t keep my act together while the rest of the world seemed to have it figured out. Now, we’re all about running on par, and if I started showing up on time, I could start a revolution.
Like any firm listed in the phone book, I get resumes, and I meet regularly with those interested in Raleigh, or with potential hires. Candidates I talk to say that all firms are giving the same story about just not knowing what’s going to happen. Of course, we never did know what was going to happen, but in the past at least you could make some plans. I’m glad that hiring is still seen as a commitment to an individual, but the hesitation to make the commitment to hire may be the last evidence of that kind of professional sense of expectation and intention. When the news talks about uncertainty in the market, man, this is it.
In a market of uncertainty, how do you decide what to do? I’ve been giving the same speech to most job seekers – it goes something like, “No one knows what’s going to happen; you’re in the same situation as the businesses you’re approaching; instead of looking for a job, decide what you believe needs to be done and let’s find a way to do it together.” It feels like a courageous call to arms when I say it, but I always get blank stares, and it’s starting to feel like an irresponsible and hypocritical sermon. I’m being convicted by my own speech.
Architects have a unique and tested sense of effective development. Like doctors, lawyers, and mechanics, we’re rarely hired for purposes of prevention. However, if I can get my guts up and my schedule right, I might have some ideas.
Andy Osterlund AIA | LEED AP
Andrew Osterlund, Architect, PLLC
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