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RIBA Future Trends Survey: December 2016 results

Future Trends December 2016

26 January 2017

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends workload index rose grew significantly in December 2016, rising to +17 (up from +9 in November 2016).

Practices of all sizes expected to see an increase in workloads. Medium-sized practices (11–50 staff) were the most upbeat (balance figure +50). Practices in Wales and the West (balance figure +27) and the North of England (+25) were the most optimistic about increasing workloads in the medium term.

The private housing sector forecast bounced back strongly, increasing to +20 (up from +10 in November). Forecasts for the community sector and the commercial sector changed little, while the public sector forecast fell (–8, down from -2 in November).

The Future Trends staffing index fell slightly, standing at +1. Medium-sized practices were the most optimistic at recruiting new staff (balance figure +25) while large practices were more cautious (balance figure 0).

RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said:

“In December, we saw many practices making up for ground lost in the previous month. Workload predictions have remained in positive territory, with no nation or region of the UK expecting work to decrease in the near future. However, commentary from practices suggests that fees and profit margins have not fully recovered to pre-recession levels.

“The impact of the referendum outcome on work in progress has so far been limited and there are currently no signs of a skills shortage. However, the longer term effects of Brexit remain uncertain, with many practices concerned about maintaining mutual recognition of professional architectural qualifications.”


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Callum Reilly: 020 7307 3757
  2. The Future Trends survey is carried out by the RIBA in partnership with the Fees Bureau. Results of the survey, including a full graphical analysis, are published each month.
  3. Completed by a mix of small, medium and large firms based on a geographically representative sample, the RIBA Future Trends Survey was launched in January 2009 to monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.
  4. The definition for the workload balance figure is the difference between those expecting more work and those expecting less. A negative figure means more respondents expect less work than those expecting more work. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends workload index, which for December 2016 was +17.
  5. The definition for the staffing balance figure is the difference between those expecting to employ more permanent staff in the next three months and those expecting to employ fewer. A negative figure means more respondents expect to employ fewer permanent staff. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends staffing index, which for December 2016 was +1.
  6. To participate in the RIBA Future Trends Survey, please contact the RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all returns are independently processed in strict confidence.
  7. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment.

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