Architecture - a caring profession?

Working is fairly easy when things are going well, but it can be hell when life gets difficult. I have spent a fair amount of time in architects' offices in the last few weeks, because I have been helping to judge the employer of the year award for the AJ100. Admittedly we were seeing the best of practices because they had been shortlisted, but they were pretty impressive.

Forget free fruit and cycle to work schemes. What was really notable was the level of compassion that was shown to people with problems - whether the 'normal' problems of parenthood or the thankfully rarer issues of physical and mental illness.

There were accommodations, mindfulness sessions, dedicated exercise classes, ample time off, counselling services and just sheer bloody caring. The vast majority of practices in the AJ100 employ fewer than 100 people and at that level it is possible for management to know everybody and have a personal response.

it is easy to forget in the excitement of producing architecture that architects are not just designers and creators and supervisors and detailers. They are people too. And it is heartening that, at least in the case of the exemplars who we saw, architects are remembering that as well.

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