Australian architect Andrew Maynard says he has it all figured out. After 10 years, he’s finally established a good work/life balance. All it took was conceding to a bitter long-term office protest and then striking out on his own.
While working for one of Australia’s largest commercial architecture firms, Maynard says that he tried to remove himself from the competitive culture by working diligently, but only within the confines of his contracted time.
I would arrive no earlier than 8.30am. I would have a morning tea break daily. I would never work through lunch. I would try to leave at 5.30pm, ensuring that I was gone before 6pm. I would never work on weekends or public holidays.
This attitude, as expected, put me on a crash course with management.
Maynard’s bosses and co-workers grew to resent his by-the-book approach and the hostility became too much for him. So he quit.
Now, as co-director of Andrew Maynard Architects, he breaks down what he sees as unhealthy architectural work practices in a manifesto published on ArchDaily, and explains how he managed to break out of the cycle and still survive in the industry.
Maynard says that several flawed principles of the practice leave young architects exposed to exploitation because the architects repeat them like mantras, hoping that one day they will come true. Broken principles such as “If I work longer hours I will get promoted and paid better” and “We must suffer for our art” create a slippery slope for employees trying to maintain a work/life balance.
“Once you allow yourself and the staff around you to work past your contracted period of employment you are enabling a culture of exploitation,” he writes. So it’s the responsibility of both the boss and the employees to find a happy medium.
ARCHITECT’s own editor-in-chief Ned Cramer had a few words of his own to say on this issue. Luckily for me and the rest of the ARCHITECT staff, Cramer tends to side with Maynard.