Interview: Roger Maier
Small architecture and urban design practice specialising in environmentally sustainable design, self build, housing and masterplanning.
How has your business/organisation been affected by the Covid-19 lockdown?
We already had the capacity to work from home so the shift to that was not too painful. However it has had a huge negative impact on our income, our productivity has suffered dramatically during this period and new work slowed to a trickle for 2-3 months.
What have been the biggest challenges for you during the lockdown whether logistical, financial, etc.?
The main issue has been trying to get enough hours in the day to do productive work. Everyone in the office has young children and partners who work. We had a bit of income buffer but will really feel the effects in the next 3 months as lack of invoicing for this period catches up with us.
What are the biggest challenges coming out of the lockdown?
No huge challenges. However one of my children is only due to go back to school in September so we are by no means out of it yet. Also, he is autistic and has missed the usual transition to Middle School. I suspect that this will cause issues further down the line as anxieties come to the fore.
Have you had to start selling in a different way than usual for example a bar or restaurant selling beer or food online?
No. Our main challenge has been trying to catch up on delayed work as Clients have come back on line.
If applicable how important has any funding (arts, government, etc.) been to keep going and was it hard to get hold of?
The grant from the Council tied to our office rental has been a lifesaver. As we draw income as Directors of a Limited Company we cannot benefit from any other support.
Was your type of business one of the ones that fell through the cracks in funding opportunities?
Yes. See above. I know of other business who do not rent office space in a way that gave them access to the Small Rates Relief funding and they have really struggled.
How much has support from the community been important such as people buying local, supporting crowdfunders, etc.?
Although our business isn’t sales orientated in the same way, Clients have been relatively understanding. However that is only in relation to delay and has not helped financially really.
Have you or are you having to adapt to new ways of working such as moving your business online or doing classes, events or seminars by Zoom or similar?
Yes, we have shifted to doing all meetings via Zoom or Teams. However, generally interactions aren’t quite as good so there is still progress to be made so that communication is still good quality.
What are the digital tools that you have you been using or are intending to use?
• Zoom, Microsoft Teams or similar