Year in review: Sydney Architecture & Interior Design, December 2021

16th December 2021 / Market Updates


2021 in review…. if we have to!

Photo: Clay Banks

When considering this past year it feels somewhat exhausting to reflect on what has been, but no one can deny it has been a BIG 12 months – and that’s not even talking about COVID! (Although that subject will weasel its way in throughout as it always does).

Last year and our first taste of lock-downs brought great periods of uncertainty and unfamiliar territory, as we grappled not only with concept of a global pandemic but also how to successfully transition entire offices to a remote working environment. This felt very much like unchartered territory not only for our Architectural and Design Clients and Candidates but also ourselves as Recruitment consultants…. you mean we can’t meet face to face?

The net result was a market that froze for a while – literally stopped – like statues we barely blinked as everyone watched events unfurl, changing from moment to moment every day.

Photo: Nick Jones

Once the dust settled however, the cogs started to turn, we unfroze cautiously and got back to business in our new norm of WFH or in office, socially distanced and drenched in sani gel…depending on the moment in time.

And back to business it was.

This year has been busy. Really busy.

Pretty much since the start of 2021, there have been new roles and opportunities for Architects and Designers across the board with virtually no sectors untouched.

Industrial, Multi Res, Single Res, Public, Institutional, Health, Education, Commercial, Government…all busy and Interiors saw a surge in retail, workplace and hospitality….all were busy and requiring resources to get through the work.

The catch? No people. We have all no doubt read about the lack of staff in retail and hospitality but in Architecture and Design it has been very similar, with no immigration, fears of moving in lockdown and general risk averse sentiments prevailing. Ads were rendered virtually useless as applications disappeared and it is fair to say that Clients were getting desperate.

So where does that take us?

Photo: Joshua Hoehne

$$ – yep money.

2021 has certainly been the year of the salary increase, counter offers and incentivisation as companies do what they can to retain and entice staff. With limited Candidates available, firms simply can’t afford to lose good people. Organisations are generally having to do more to attract – not only financially but also by offering flexible hours, remote working opportunities and a hybrid approach.

Even throughout lockdown – and it was another biggie – work did not stop and nor did demand. This in itself bought its own issues, to this day there are some firms that have engaged staff and never actually met them. Further to this, the overwhelming feedback from Clients and Candidates was that on boarding and engaging remotely is absolutely possible but not necessarily ideal – asking questions is no longer a matter of a quick query to the colleague next to you, so as long as there are no issues it’s okay but if there are… well it’s much more difficult for everyone involved.

So, has anything changed since our last update?

Photo: hello-i-am-nik

Not really… and before the words ‘Great Resignation’ gets thrown around, we see little evidence of this… yet. Will there be a mass amount of people seeking greener pastures? Not sure and time will tell, interestingly one thing we have seen a small spike in, is overseas applications. After not a peep for almost two years, is this perhaps a sign of the world starting to move again? Hopefully this is a yes!

In any case for now, we have lots of work, a lack of good Candidates and a year that is nearly over.

The year in review? Perhaps not really, but rather a brief commentary on where we were and where we are now. What comes next? Who knows but one things is certain, we are used to uncertainty by now, and anything could happen!

Photo: Clarinta Subrata

Holidays are around the corner and in spite (or because) of the activity levels, most firms seem to be taking a decent break, at least until the 10th if not the 17th . It’s been a busy, difficult year and a break is needed, oh and of course all that unused annual leave has to get taken some time!

It is on that note we would like to express our gratitude to our Clients and Candidates and wish everyone a very safe, happy and relaxing Christmas and New Year.

Looking forward to seeing what 2022 brings!

Jacqueline Liddicoat


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