Looking for ways to support the architecture and design community during this health crisis, we’ve created this space to share useful resources and best practices that might be helpful for members and their practices as we navigate this unprecedented situation together.
What You’ll Find on this Page
Started as a collaborative project at the beginning of the pandemic, this collection of resources and best practices has grown thanks to the many contributions of TSA members. As the situation has evolved so too have the resources on this page, reflecting how studios have adapted to new ways of practicing.
The list below is an index of some of the topics covered on this page. You can either click on the topics below to be taken down the page to the appropriate section or scroll down the page.
- *new* Province-Wide Declaration of Emergency
- Reliable General Sources
- Practicing during the Health Crisis
- Financial and Legal Matters for Individuals (updated)
- Continuing Education
- How the architecture and design community can help
- Contribute a Resource
This page was last updated January 18, 2021. All new information and resources done in the last update are highlighted with the word *new*. This page is updated periodically with the latest resources.
Province-Wide Declaration of Emergency in Effect *new*
As of January, 14, 2021 a second province-wide declaration of emergency is in effect, including a stay at home order. During this time employees must work from home except where necessary and non-essential construction must close. This order is in place until at least Thursday, February 11, 2021 across the province of Ontario.
Read the official Stay at Home Order here.
A list of all construction activities that can continue under provincial orders can be found here.
Rules for areas in Stage 1 Amendment, including a list of permitted construction activities, can be read here.
The following international organizations and local authorities have created dedicated websites to share information on the COVID-19 pandemic. They are great go-to websites for reliable information, as well as the latest developments, affected services and containment measures that apply to our region.
Practicing during the Health Crisis
The current health crisis is requiring architects to quickly adapt the way we practice in response to changing conditions. This section brings together some resources relevant to practicing during the health crisis.
Reliable Built Environment Sources
A number built-environment related organizations, authorities and departments have created dedicated COVID-19 pages with their latest updates and resources. Check these often to stay up to date and hear about updates directly from the source!
- OAA COVID-19 Updates | The latest updates from the Ontario Association of Architects on matters of practice during the health crisis.
- Pro-Demnity: Risk Management during COVID-19 | Information from the mandatory professional liability insurance provider for Ontario architects about risk management during the pandemic.
- City of Toronto: Affected City Services | Official City information on affected city services, including Zoning and Building Permits and Inspections. Please make sure to check the following tabs on the page for information relevant to design professionals: Building Permits and Inspections, Licensing and Permits, City Planning, and Public Consultations.
- *new* City of Toronto: Building Permits and Inspections | Toronto Building is providing inspection services for construction activities designated essential in the provincial government’s updated emergency regular, as all other construction activities are required to stop. All permit applications are being accepted, reviewed and issued where complete/possible.
- City of Mississauga: Affected Services | Official City of Mississauga information regarding current service impacts. For relevant information to design professionals, make sure to check the following tabs: Planning and building, Clerk’s Office, and Committee of Adjustment.
Pandemic Preparedness for your Studio
The following resources are meant to help our members who are making decisions as business owners and employers as they look for ways to protect the health (both physical and mental) of staff, clients and consultants while maintaining business operations.
- COVID-19 and the workplace: employer obligations
- World Health Organization | Q&A: Tips for health and safety at the workplace in the context of COVID-19
- Centre for Disease Control and Prevention | Interim guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- McKinsey & Company | COVID-19: Implications for business
- CMHA | 6 tips to respond to employee anxiety about COVID-19
- Architects’ Mental Wellbeing Toolkit
- CAMH Resources | Mental Health and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Financial and Legal Matters: For Practices
Cash-flow, employment and taxes are all issues that are being affected by this pandemic. The resources below provide a guide to some programs and information on economic relief packages, temporary income support, emergency support for those who lose their jobs, and changes to the tax filing for 2019. We’ve also recently included business-related resources dealing with issues like employee management, business continuity and human resources.
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Businesses| Includes information on the Emergency Wage Subsidy, Work-Sharing program, and programs for self-employed individuals.
- Canadian Architect: Legal, financial guidance for Canadian architecture firms during COVID-19 | A detailed article for practices with information on workforce planning, voluntary and involuntary temporary layoffs, work sharing, cash flow, taxes, temporary wage subsidies and more.
- Canadian Federation of Small Businesses: Small Business Resources to Deal with COVID-19 | Resources, templates and information for small businesses on topics such as business continuity, employee management, financial support
- MaRS Startup and Small Business Toolkit |Advice, webinars, tips, and templates for small businesses and startups on topics such as accounting, payroll, human resources and more, including a special collection of tools for COVID-19.
- COVID-19 Webinar Series: HR and Workplace Practices | Ongoing webinar series hosted by McLean and Co. dealing with how businesses can provide effective leadership and communication during the pandemic.
Physical Distancing, Remote Work and Collaboration Tools
Public health professionals have asked Canadians to practice physical distancing, deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. At the TSA, this has meant cancelling events and moving all meetings to online platforms. For practices, this might mean moving meetings to digital platforms and telecommuting (work from home). The following resources look to help firms maintain the collaborative spirit of the studio while transitioning to digital platforms. Many of the tools below are free of charge for basic plans.
- Collaborating During COVID-19: A How-To
- 16 Tips for Managing Remote Teams
- An Architect’s Guide to Virtual Practice
- A Guide to Managing Your (Newly) Remote Workers
- Perkins & Will | Insta Office | An affordable solution for better ergonomics at your work-from home office
- Zoom | Zoom is a video conferencing program which allows for meetings to be conducted on a computer or phone. Zoom also has chat capabilities within meetings as well as screen sharing, and a link and phone number can be sent to anyone to join the meeting. The basic plan is free of charge.
- Slack | Slack is a digital messaging platform with both group and person-to-person messaging. You can create multiple channels per team/workplace and members of that team can have direct messaging and group chats. You can also share files and images. The basic plan allowing 10,000 messages is free.
- Microsoft Teams | Similar to Slack, Microsoft Teams allows for both group and person-to-person messaging, as well as number of other features including video conferencing. A free plan is available with limited features.
- Splashtop | Splashtop is a remote desktop solution allowing users to log into and use the processing power of their work computer from any device from home. This allows flexibility on what is required at home (even an iPAD with a keyboard and mouse will do). Plans start at $5 a month per user.
- Google Drive | Google Drive is a cloud storage service that allows you to easily store and share files over the internet. You can even have a folder on your computer (or sync specific folders) making the experience very user friendly. In addition, Google offers an online, free web-based office suite with Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides and Google Forms.
- Morpholio | Created by a group of architects, Morpholio make software tools that aims to address different moments in the design process, from schematic to construction. Their app Morpholio Trace combines sketching tools, Augmented Reality, digital annotations and precise drawings.
- Bang the Table: Engagement HQ | Engagement HQ is an online community engagement software featuring virtual tools to increase public awareness and participation including surveys, polls, questions, guestbook, stories, places, ideas and forums.
- Social Pinpoint | Social Pinpoint is a customization online community engagement platform with a toolkit to make it easy to engage with the community and stakeholders online. Features include surveys, mapping, forums, and ideas walls among other tools.
Reopening your Studio
When it is safe to do so, many studios will be looking to reopen their physical spaces and welcoming people back into their offices. The following resources address issues surrounding reopening offices, including government recommendations, legal and employment considerations, strategic design recommendation and free downloadable signage. **Please note that as of January 14, 2021 a Province-wide declaration of emergency is in effect, including a stay at home order across Ontario. Employees must work remotely except where necessary. Please check Ontario’s emergency declaration for more information. **
- Government of Ontario: Develop your COVID-19 workplace safety plan | Learn how you can create a plan to help protect your workers and others from novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19).
- Government of Ontario: Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace | Sector-specific safety guidelines, resources and posters for the gradual reopening of different kinds of businesses including offices and construction. A select number of resources found in the office and construction sections of the page are highlighted below.
- Health and Safety Guidance During COVID-19 For Employers of Office Settings
- Guidance on Health and Safety for Office Sector during COVID-19
- Guidance on Health and Safety for Executives and Management during COVID-19
- Guidance on Health and Safety for Office Administration and Secretarial Staff during COVID-19
- Government of Canada | Risk-informed decision-making guidelines for workplaces and businesses | A framework for risk-informed decision making about public health actions for workplaces as well as risk mitigation strategies.
- Government of Ontario: Construction site health and safety during COVID-19 | Resources, best practices and information to help construction employers understand their rights and responsibilities while operating during COVID-19.
- McCarthy Tetrault | Moving Forward – Considerations for the Re-Opening of Physical Workplaces | Prepared by legal professionals, this page sets out a series of considerations for employers as they plan for re-opening Includes heaps of useful links to more focused discussions on particular topics. Topics covered include safety protocols, policy changes, PPE considerations, among others.
- Gensler | Design responds to a changing world | A collection of posts exploring how design is responding to the ongoing pandemic. Tips, thoughts, and strategies are shared for a multitude of workplace environments.
- Perkins & Will | Road Map for Return | A comprehensive package with guidelines and recommendations on topics like employee readiness, maximum seat capacity, team scheduling, and remote work.
- entro | COVID-19 Signage | A free downloadable series of graphics and sign types designed to encourage physical distancing, personal hygiene and protective behaviour.
Financial and Legal Matters: For Individuals
The pandemic is having a huge impact on individuals, from students to working professionals to everyone in between. The following resources have been compiled to help individuals looking for guidance on financial and legal matters during the pandemic.
- Ontario Association of Architects | Financial Hardship Policy
- OAA COVID-19 Updates | The latest updates from the Ontario Association of Architects including many FAQ for intern architects, student associates and architects.
- City of Toronto COVID updates: Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam | Latest COVID-19 updates from the office of Kristyn Wong-Tam, with updates on city services, TDSB, gathering restrictions in the City of Toronto and more.
- *new* City of Toronto: COVID 19 Income Support | A collection of resources put together by the City of Toronto detailing your rights during the pandemic and helpful income support resources.
- Steps to Justice: Updates on the law and legal services |Easy to understand, step-by-step information about legal problems (including employment, housing, family and debt and consumer law).
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: For Individuals | Information on Canada’s Emergency Response Benefit, as well as information specific to students and recent graduates, seniors and other groups.
Over the past several months the TSA has developed a wide variety of online learning opportunities, including sessions eligible for Structured Learning hours and most of them free for TSA members. Check out our events calendar and the TSA bulletin for the latest opportunities. In addition, there are other great free or highly affordable opportunities which we have listed below.
- GreenCE: Sustainable Design Education | Numerous free and low-cost sustainable design education webinars on a variety of topics. Certificates for Structured Hours are issued upon completion of a quiz.
- woodWORKS! eLearning Centre | Professional development courses exploring topics in wood materials, designs and applications in construction. Certificates for Structured Hours are issued upon completion of a quiz.
- Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development: Worker Health and Safety Awareness | This training introduces workers to the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It focuses on the health and safety rights and responsibilities of workers, supervisors and employers. It also serves as a general introduction to workplace health and safety. A certificate of completion is issued at the end of the course.
- AECDaily | A collection of webinars on a variety of topics related to the construction industry, many of them free of charge.
- TSA Online Learning Listing | The TSA events calendar now has a tag dedicated to online learning opportunities making it easy to find upcoming or on-demand webinars relevant to architects and design professionals.
How the architecture and design community can help
Have access to a 3D printer? Know how to sew? Then you can help in the fight against COVID-19! The PPE Drive is an outreach campaign started by medical leaders in Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital to ensure adequate supplies of PPE in the healthcare system. Here are the following ways people can get involved:
- Donate Unopened PPE | Have an unopened box of nitrile gloves, vented goggles, or even ear-looped masks? Know a contractor, supplier or fabricator that does? You can donate these supplies either by dropping them off at the hospital or arraigning a pick up.
- 3D Print Visor Frames | Have a 3D printer? Michael Garron Hospital is calling on the 3D printing community to create 10,000 visors frames in order for hospitals to make new face shields. An .stl file and detailed instructions and sizes can be found on the campaign’s 3D Printed Visor website.
- Sew a Mask | Know how to sew? The Michael Garron Hospital is calling for Torontonians to collectively make 1,000 masks a week which will go to approved visitors, discharged patients and the broader community to help prevent disease transmission. Instructions on how to make the masks and where to donate them can be found on the hospital website.
Other Ways to Help
- Make a Donation | There are many organizations making a difference for our community’s most vulnerable. Consider making a donation to organizations such as United Way Greater Toronto, Daily Bread Food Bank, FoodShare, University Health Network and Second Harvest. Browse a list of charity campaigns on Canada Helps’ COVID-19 donation page.
Is there a resource missing that you think would be of use for other architects and design professionals? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure to share it with our community. Together we are stronger!
NOTE: If you are sick, have traveled in the past 14 days, or are currently experiencing some of the symptoms of the disease, practice self-isolation and avoid going to work. Instead, please refer to the Government of Ontario website for the latest information and procedures to see if further assessment might be required.