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In attracting and retaining staff, the human factor is still key. ‘People don’t leave jobs; people leave people’, says Meg Brown of Perkins + Will. ‘the chemistry has to be right.’ successful firms are those that develop a vision both for their business and their people. a strategic agenda that considers an individual’s potential within a wider frame of reference when recruiting, promoting or training is essential in developing and retaining a creative and energised workforce. Levels of remuneration continue to be important, but cannot wholly assuage a wider sense of ambition and job satisfaction. the prospect of a stimulating workload and opportunities for personal growth and educational advancement are also fundamental considerations. ‘Lifetime learning promotes a sense of exploration’, says Peter ruggiero of HOK. Firms that can encourage and nurture staff in their wider professional and personal development through accessible programmes of mentoring and training are clearly more likely to inculcate loyalty and a spirit of mutual respect, mitigating the often costly and disruptive effects of high personnel turnover. recognition is another important aspect, as despite the popular perception of the architect as auteur or lone genius, architecture is an inherently collaborative process, involving teams of people with different disciplines and talents. ‘Make sure that your employees at all levels feel that their time is valued,’ says graham s Wyatt of robert aM stern architects, ‘that they are making significant and valued contributions to high-quality projects, and that they are getting frequent recognition for these contributions. In short: expect excellence, encourage excellence, and give recognition to excellence.’ the structure of practice continues to evolve. ‘I grew up in a working world characterised by formality and set patterns,’ says gensler’s rob Jernigan. ‘this has been overtaken by a more fluid work culture.’ the constraints of geographical boundaries are also no longer relevant. ‘Many firms are now international and this precipitates new and often more intense ways of working,’ says scott Mactavish of Bespoke. Despite an increasing emphasis on the notion of work-life balance, architecture is still seen as a demanding, long-hours game, reflecting the commitment and rigour of the profession as a whole. ‘In some ways, it’s a badge of honour,’ says graham s Wyatt. ‘But we try to mitigate the effects of long hours by tracking staff time and ensuring they use paid time off.’ In seeking to retain and develop talent, there tends to be less reliance on hierarchical models of organisation. Instead, a more inclusive approach can initiate less experienced staff earlier into key roles. ‘Partnerships are another way of creating equity, stretching responsibility and creating the right kind of character’, says Peter ruggiero. In demonstrating to employees that they are valued, firms effectively enhance their corporate culture. It’s an expression of what they stand for and why people should want to work there. It could also be argued that there is also a discernible reciprocity between a firm’s organisational culture and the architecture it produces. ‘Culture and values drive design’, says andrea Lamberti of rafael Viñoly architects. and while architects’ offices might still be seen as innately hermetic, there are ways ‘A strategic agenda that considers an individual’s potential within a wider frame of reference is essential in developing and retaining a creative and energised workforce’ to encourage an engagement with the wider world. ‘at gensler we regularly host lectures and events so the office becomes part of the community’, says rob Jernigan. Developing and sustaining relationships with schools of architecture is also seen as essential to promote awareness and entice the best graduates. Many firms have dedicated campus recruiting teams to identify and connect with likely prospects. Corporate campaigns for young recruits are not unique to architecture, but us practice is in the throes of a more profound demographic transition, with an emerging generation of architects making their presence felt as never before. these are the representatives of generation Y (born between 1980 and 2000) characterised by their effortless assimilation of digital technology and a heightened level of social consciousness. For this emerging and increasingly influential cohort, it is predicted that the definition of what constitutes architecture will become more fluid and expansive, going beyond current concepts of a multi-disciplinary approach. In future, practices could encompass a much broader ecology of skills, with integrated teams harnessing the expertise of fields such as economists, demographers, performance engineers, among others, moving away from the more familiar disciplines and market sectors of traditional firms. though broader definitions of architecture and practice are nothing new in themselves, this latest generation has the advantage of connectivity fuelled by unlimited access to information and the power of social computing. at their most basic level, networks facilitate the sharing of experiences, so prospective employees are liable to be better equipped and more informed about the realities of life in a particular practice rather than accepting its self-image at face value. ‘In this respect, word of mouth is extremely important’, says Lindsay urquhart-turton of Bespoke. ar | august 2014  103