Cautious optimism about future workloads – RIBA Future Trends January survey

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends workload index rose in January 2017, increasing to +24 (up from +17 in December 2016). Overall confidence about future workloads is at pre-Referendum levels.

Practices in the North of England saw the biggest increase in workload expectations (balance figure +48); the South of England and Wales and the West also remained optimistic. London practices were more cautious with the balance figure standing at +15 (unchanged from December 2016).

Large practices (51+ staff) were more optimistic than medium-sized and small practices, but practices of all sizes expected medium-term workloads to increase.

The private house sector forecast increased slightly to +22 (up from +20 in December 2016). The commercial sector forecast also rose, to +4 in January 2017. The public sector recovered marginally, but remained in negative territory at –6; the community sector forecast fell to +1.

The RIBA Future Trends staffing index made a strong recovery, rising to +8 in January 2017 (up from +1 in December 2016). 94% of practices expected their staffing levels to increase or stay the same over the next quarter.

In January, medium-sized practices were again the most optimistic about retaining and increasing staff (balance figure +27), followed by large practices at +25. Small practices were the least confident (balance figure +4).

RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said:

“Commentary from practices is generally positive this month, particularly for practices working in the private housing sector. Optimism about staffing shows that there is a healthy employment market for salaried architects, which should continue into the spring.

“Workload expectations are at pre-Referendum levels. However, we have yet to see whether Brexit will have a significant economic impact on architects’ work in the long-term.”