TZL 1460 (web)



3. Remote work was a major topic of conversation at ElevateAEC. Unfortunately, it still appears to be seen as either “good” or “bad” by many firms, versus being discussed as a fact and circumstance and a possible opportunity (though the cultural impact and massive mentoring challenges cannot be ignored either). Much of the discussion has been about the impact of how to handle this as firm owners and leaders – surprisingly little attention at the conference this year was focused on simply capitalizing on the business case for either option and what this could do for designers in creating the offices of the future (though we realize the discussions are happening, it was notable to me that they were not the focus of the panelists and speakers at our event this year). It is my perception that the firms that focus on investing in office design that results in physical offices serving as a magnet for employees and a place people want to spend time in to collaborate and learn within are the ones we see as best-positioned to stay ahead of the turnover metrics (I’ll even wager that this will fare better than the firms that spike up bonuses). We’ll see who wins our Best Firms To Work For accolades in the coming years (overlaid with our Hot Firm list to see who is continuing to be able to grow and thrive) before this is something I feel like we have a grasp on as advisors to this space. That said, in the small sample set of conversations I have with firm leaders, the companies that have issued strict mandates and are unwilling to compromise may (or may not) risk their place as an employer of choice in the coming years. 4. Indulge me in another acronym: ESG, or environmental, social and governance. I knew the concept, but only understood it after working with ADEC for a few years as their growth has continued to explode . A recent direct acquisition by Boston Consulting Group is evidence of the market demand for ESG expertise and, frankly an opportunity for environmental design firms to expand their expertise to include a whole different variety of “consulting” as ESG expectations continue. We’re also tracking WELL- building technology and the other technology investments being made to ramp up efforts within the built environment to align with sustainability expectations. 5. The ElevateHER Symposium as well as our closing keynote by Zhetique Gunn and Melvalean McLemore, AIA highlights the real need to be a more inclusive industry. The power dynamic between employer and employee has totally shifted; there is so much demand for services and there is a real need for businesses to be flexible, adaptable, and committed to true employee well-being. Burnout is real and the professionals within AEC have wildly transferrable skills – we have to be more protective of our staff and their work-life balances or available staff will dwindle. In an ecosystem with rapidly increasing compensation expectations and often a much-delayed ability to increase fees to offset these increases, it will be the firms that actually commit to culture and can find ways to be welcoming to all employees who can drive the company forward. Our ElevateHER cohort teams have been three years ahead of the curve on this; join us next year to be part of the future. 6. We had just two breakout sessions with poor attendance: one on cybersecurity and one on the metaverse. That makes digital transformation and, broadly, enterprise risk management absolutely no less fundamentally important. Don’t be one of the firms that waits until they are a statistic to pay attention to these topics. My job compels me to wrap up this article with some actual advice. With so many variables in the conversation this year that are novel to most principals of AEC firms, the very best advice I can give you: first, this is the time to invest in a thoughtful board of directors that includes outside perspectives. Second, if your firm can really listen to and harness the Gen Z energy and the generation’s insistence on a standard of living that is more sustainable than what may have been tolerated before (“back in my day”), you will be a trailblazer. Find someone young with wild strategic potential in your firm and bring them into executive conversations “before they are ready.” Trust me that this is an important feature of tomorrow’s fastest-growing firms. There were many more discussions at our event that were truly thought-provoking and that will come back up over the next eleven months before we gather (and golf) together in Frisco, Texas, for ElevateAEC 2023 ! Jamie Claire Kiser is managing principal and director of advisory services at Zweig Group. Contact her at

Interested in learning more

about the projects and ideas driving the AEC industry forward? Learn more with Civil+Structural Engineer Media.

PO Box 1528 Fayetteville, AR 72702

Chad Clinehens | Publisher Sara Parkman | Senior Editor & Designer Shirley Che | Contributing Editor Liisa Andreassen | Correspondent Tel: 800-466-6275 Fax: 800-842-1560 Email: Online: Twitter: Facebook: Group-1030428053722402 Published continuously since 1992 by Zweig Group, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA. ISSN 1068-1310. Issued weekly (48 issues/year). Free electronic subscription at © Copyright 2022, Zweig Group. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2022. Zweig Group. All rights reserved.


Made with FlippingBook Annual report