Salary Guide

Our annual Salary Survey reveals who's making what in our sector. Take a look at this year's results to see how you compare to the market.

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Bespoke Careers

02 February 2023

02 February 2023

Bespoke Careers 2023 Global Salary Guide

CEO of Bespoke Careers, Lindsay Urquhart gives her overview of the global A&D market

Click here to request your copy of the Bespoke Careers 2024 Global Salary Guide.

As the world continues to open up borders and stretch its limbs after a couple of rocky years, architecture and design firms must innovate and get creative to attract the best staff. Gone are the days when simply placing an ad would result in a slew of suitable applicants. It's now more important thatn ever to 'sell' what you're offering, and practices are using a variety of tools to ensure the right applicants come on board.

With offices across the UK, Australia and the US, Bespoke Careers has valuable insights into each location; we understand what the pressure points are, and what solutions firms are using to deal with staff shortages. Our global presence also gives us the unique ability to place candidates in roles across regions, which is good for both the jobseeker and the employer.

One of the most interesting differences across each location is the work-from-home (WFH) scenario. In Australia, our Melbourne and Sydney offices have noted that many firms are encouraging staff to return to the office five days a week with new initiatives, like meals, parties and other events, designed to entice people back in.

Physical workspace is also critical with new spaces and facilities designed to make the commute to the office more rewarding. In Brisbane, there is more flexibility about working closer to home with some firms opening satellite offices in other major centres. We’ve also seen Brisbane opening their pool of available candidates by offering roles to senior or retired people who have the skills to train and mentor junior staff members.

In London, where many office workers worked from home for long stretches during the pandemic (often not the case in Australia, where lockdowns were more stop-start), we’re seeing most firms encouraging a general return to the office, with some creating fixed office days and others requesting staff return to a full five-day week. The lure of a physical workplace and various perks are also being used in London to help this along, although some practices still have ongoing agile ‘work from anywhere’ policies.

In New York and Los Angeles, WFH appears to be more likely to stay, though LA practices are doing more to get people back in. While in Texas, WFH was never as common and remains the exception rather than the rule. The issue of WFH, however, is still key for some candidates, as is the flexibility to work part-time for others, and some practices are responding by bringing in a nine-day fortnight to accommodate this. Firms are offering other perks too, such as the ability for people to bring their pets in (a key issue noted in London and LA), a focus on wellness (including in Sydney, New York and LA), bonuses (London) and even help paying for fuel (LA). And of course, the other major enticement is salary, with all but two offices reporting these are on the rise and none noting a drop.

Now that borders are open, more candidates are moving to new cities in search of roles. New York is grappling with a serious lack of staff due to talent having left the city, not only seeing less architect and designer candidates, but also fewer candidates in HR, finance, business development, and marketing. However, Bespoke is well-placed to fill the gap with candidates brought in from the West Coast (LA and Texas) and from elsewhere in the world (particularly Australia).

Similarly, London is also struggling with talent having left the city or, in the case of business support roles, having left the industry altogether, creating a lack of candidates. Here, roles previously occupied by Europeans are now being filled with either local or Australians and New Zealanders.

In Australia, and particularly in Sydney, firms are benefiting from the return of candidates with working holiday visas, as well as sponsored, highly skilled workers, bringing in international talent that was lacking during the pandemic. Increasingly, we are noticing that candidates are wanting to work on sustainable projects and are interested in the ethics of a company, including their sustainability credentials, with firms registered as B-Corps looked upon favourably. In some locations, and particularly in London, there is a focus on human rights, with candidates not interested in working for firms with connections to countries or companies with bad human rights records.

"Candidates are wanting to work on sustainable projects and are interested in the ethics of a company"

And, perhaps most importantly, candidates are looking for employers that are respectful, transparent and sensitive to issues such as burn-out or career stagnation. Many are asking for a demonstrated career progression or pathway, even as early as the interview stage of recruitment. In New York and California, new pay transparency laws will make this mandatory, and likely to bring about an inevitable renegotiation of many people’s salaries – it will be interesting to watch how this pans out over the next 12 months.

The interview is a design studio’s opportunity to ‘sell’ the role and the practice, to get to know the candidate and their needs, and to highlight its work culture. Employers need to put in the time to attract the right candidate, including being upfront in communications, preparing properly for the interview and putting together the right package when it comes time to offer the position.

Practices are well advised to keep an eye on existing staff, as well, to reduce instances of the ‘great resignation’ or ‘quiet quitting’ – and this means taking the time to understand the skills and aspirations of their staff and help push their development and progress.

Each employee is different and will have different needs, whether it’s flexibility, the ability to work from home, or the desire to work for an ethical company. Salary requests, health and wellbeing considerations and things like location, transport and pets, will have the potential to put staff or candidates off an otherwise excellent position. That’s why in this year’s Salary Guide, we have included insights into what firms are doing in each region to attract and retain staff.

It has been a slow process opening the world again after the disruption of COVID and, as work cultures continue to change and people increasingly look to work overseas again, the world is likely to become more complex. Attracting and retaining staff remains one of our great challenges – an opportunity to get the right people into the right roles to make sure the architecture and design industry continues to thrive.

Author: Lindsay Urquhart, CEO, Bespoke Careers

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