Resources: COVID-19

 
 


CHAPTER NEWS
RESOURCES FOR ARCHITECTS: COVID-19

Here are some great tips from our neighbors to the east, AIA Maine, on making adjustments to a home work environment and maintaining productive working relationships with colleagues and clients.

Work from Home Tips:

  • Have a virtual all-staff or team meeting every morning. This will keep everyone connected.
  • Allow employees to take office computers, chairs, and desks home with them if it suits them. Not everyone has proper office equipment at home.
  • Make time to move around. Working from home means you are likely moving less than you usually do.


Advise from a small firm practitioner who has run a virtual workspace for 3 years from Sacramento, CA:   Amanda Green, AIA

 

Webinar from PROVING GROUND, a digital design agency that enables digital transformation with creative data-driven solutions to the building industry.  In this one hour webinar, you will learn from architects about establishing a home office, managing work hours, collaborating remotely and more.


Tips for Job Site Visits:

  • Be flexible with the timing of site visits.
  • Be strategic about who needs to be on-site during the visit.
  • When limiting the staff on-site, it is helpful to use your phone to audio-record the meeting rather than have a person on hand just to take notes.
  • Establish office policies for site visits. A written policy will empower employees to advocate for themselves while on-site.


Helpful Technology:

  • Microsoft Office 356 Teams has helped some members with online collaboration.
  • iPad with Apple Pencil has helped people mark-up drawings and share those drawings without being in the same space.
  • Zoom is a very intuitive resource for online meetings.
  • Try Slack for instant messaging with your team. Slack helps to avoid lengthy email chains that can drain time and energy.


Tips to Maintain Cash Flow:

  • Check-in and follow-up with clients regularly.
  • Get your invoices out regularly – maybe more often now.
  • Consider pre-billing for your services or a retainer model.
  • Talk to your clients about the importance of cash flow for a small business.
  • Do not work on new work for a client when there are outstanding invoices.
  • Review federal government programs for Small Business. Link here


Opportunities:

  • Be empathetic!
  • Understand your clients' new problems and provide services to address the issues they are facing. Use your existing skills to be their trusted partner.
  • Understand that not all clients are tech-savvy. Do your best to make things seamless for them.
  • Expand your skills / re-invest in yourself.
  • Consider taking on new roles that you may have previously hired out. For example: general contractor or interior design roles.
  • Consider a recurring-business revenue model rather than a project-revenue model.
  • Keep marketing your business. Clients will still need to find you. Tune up your website. Be visible.


Messaging to Clients and Contacts:

  • Convey calm and show stability.
  • Help clients problem-solve. For instance, if a community meeting has to be canceled, suggest an online meeting instead and then help them figure out how to make that happen.
  • You do not need to highlight any process changes with clients (like work from home strategies) unless they ask or are interested.


Best Practice Materials from AIA & AIA Trust:


State News:

New Hampshire Unemployment Benefits
State unemployment benefits are immediately accessible to help individuals who are unable to work or who have reduced hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Loss of income has been the biggest worry about the spreading virus.  Here are the instructions: 

Applications for unemployment benefits must be submitted online or over the phone immediately; benefits can’t be backdated. Individuals will need to file for each week of temporary unemployment.  For more information and to file quickly to ensure timely relief, go to https://www.nhes.nh.gov/ or call 603-271-7700.   

The order states, “Individuals that need to care for a family member that has COVID-19 or is under quarantine; Individuals that need to care for a dependent because of school closures, child care facility closures or other similar types of care programs; self-employed individuals that are temporarily unable to operate their business because of any of the above listed situations will also be eligible.” 

Small Business Loans
New Hampshire along with most of New England is one of the early states to be approved for the SBA loans.  According to the SBA, the loans offer up to $2 million in assistance for small businesses and may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can't be paid because of the disaster's impact.  The SBA toll-free line has been established to answer questions at 1-800-659-2955.