Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Luke Hallaways, Co-Founder & CMO of CO-architecture

Luke Hallaways is the Co-Founder & CMO of CO-architecture, a company on a mission to build Australia’s best community for designers to share, grow, and get hired. 

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

My background is in Architecture. I was an Architectural Graduate at a Sydney practice for 8 years and loved my time in this role. Prior to this, during my studies in Sydney, I started the architecture social media platform @australian_architecture which grew to a community of over half a million.

From creating this platform, I was talking to directors and studio administrators daily from architecture practices around Australia. What I found from these discussions was a need for a better and easier employment market for the industry that could be used by the smaller practices which actually make up a large percentage of our industry. From this Australian Architecture Job Board was created which helped practices advertise their current job openings to the larger Australian Architecture community. 

At the start of 2022, I was contacted by Kevin & Wade who were building a platform for the industry as well, over in Perth in Western Australia. After many months of discussions we decided that we all had the same goal of improving the current employment marketplace for the Australian architecture and design industries so we decided to join forces. It has been a smooth transition, the merging of the two platforms and now we are fully focused on our goals for the industry, together.

I’m now the Co-founder and CMO of CO-architecture. CO-architecture is a tech platform dedicated to Australian architecture and design industries helping people connect, grow and find work.

Our platform connects and empowers the largest network of Independent and Job-Seeking design professionals across Australia with a growing suite of powerful employment features. We are building products on the platform for our community to encourage a smarter way to work, build their careers and take their businesses to new heights.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

Yes sure, how about I describe yesterday, which will be the easiest for me. I’m a fairly early riser so I usually get up early and either head to the beach for a swim, the gym or take my dog Bruce for a walk. Yesterday I went to the gym. By 7:30 I’m usually catching up on emails and writing out my task list for the day.

I like to keep it old school and write down my tasks for the day on a notepad. There is something about crossing tasks off as the day progresses that makes me feel like I’m having a productive day and also keeps me on track of what I should prioritise. Throughout the morning I’m constantly checking in with my team and adding any new tasks to my list as the day goes on.

At lunch I usually like to get away from a screen and read or take Bruce for a walk at the park, if we skipped the morning walk, whilst listening to a podcast. Yesterday we had a board meeting with our investors in the afternoon and then after that I completed a few extra tasks.

In the evening I enjoy having a break to spend some time with my wife and catch up on her day whilst cooking dinner together. Most nights I work a couple of hours extra once my wife goes to bed and prepare any tasks for the next day.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

Since going full time on CO-architecture, my work-life balance has improved greatly. I know it should be the other way round, for when you run a start-up the general consensus is that it can take over your life and work slowly erodes into your after work hours.

But prior to 2023 I was working full time as an Architectural Graduate in Sydney and commuting an hour and half each way by train every day. Whilst working at an architecture practice I was also running my side business of Australian Architecture Job Board which was taking up my commute time, lunch breaks and night time when I should have been clocking off from work and relaxing with my partner.

Since going full time at CO-architecture, there is no more commuting, as we are a fully remote team and I can concentrate 100% of my day to day tasks to CO-architecture. I’ve also been able to swap the time I would have been commuting, to time I can spend on myself and doing what I love. I love going for early morning swims at my local beach and trying to get back into regular gym visits, both of these were impossible to find time in the previous years.

Being fully remote also means that I can easily change up my work environment. I can start my day with a beach swim and then spend the morning replying to emails or organising content for the week from the beach or a park and then head back to the home office in the afternoon for any meetings or more formal work.

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

The main change was removing the commute time from my day to day life. It was an unsustainable amount of time travelling to and from work which meant there was less time to spend with my partner and our dog, doing the activities I enjoy doing after work hours.

It can also end up becoming repetitive waking up at the same time, leaving the house at the same time, catching the same trains to and from work and getting back home at the same time (depending how the trains wanted to run that day. Don’t get me started on Sydney public transport). Now I love that I have the freedom to diversify my work day.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Yes, I actually just read a fantastic book, Remote, by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson the founders of 37signals. Even though it was written ten years ago, it has some great lessons and explains the benefits of remote working. If anybody who is currently remote working or is thinking about remote working, I highly recommend reading this book.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I wouldn’t say it is wisdom more a cliche phrase but I think people can often forget that you are meant to work to live not live to work. Coming from a few years where my day was dominated by work with no space to live during the week I think was unsustainable and was going to lead to burn out. Now I’m building a platform I have a passion for, for an industry I have a passion for.

If you are finding that your work is starting to take over your life and you can’t find time for the things that really make you happy then maybe it is time for a change. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.