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Cautious optimism about future workloads in January 2017 RIBA Future Trends survey

Future Trends January 2017

24 February 2017

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.”


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Callum Reilly: 020 7307 3757
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  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 January 2017 was +24.
  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 January 2017 was +8.
  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 RIBA’s Brexit recommendations, Global by design: How the government can open up new opportunities for UK architects, can be viewed at
  8. 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.

    Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates

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