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Future Trends March 2016

  • North of England practices remain the most confident about increasing workloads
  • Private housing and commercial sectors continue as strongest areas of growth
  • Concerns about fee levels and economic uncertainty persist

The recent downward trend in the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index appears to have stabilised, with the balance figure rising significantly in March 2016 to +31 (up from +21 in February).

All nations and regions returned positive workload forecasts, with practices in the North of England being the most optimistic.

Large practices (51+ staff) remain the most positive. Medium-sized practices (11–50 staff, balance figure +48) saw a boost in confidence levels, while small practices (1–10 staff, balance figure +28) were upbeat, however to a lesser degree.

The commercial sector saw the biggest increase this month, rising to +18 (up from +10 in February). The private housing sector remained the strongest performing sector, despite the forecast decreasing marginally (to +28, down from +31 in February). The public sector and community sector workload forecasts dipped slightly, with balance figures of zero and –1 respectively.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index rose slightly in March, standing at +10 (up from +7 in February).

Medium-sized practices (balance figure +35) and large practices (balance figure +57) continued to be more positive about taking on additional staff; smaller practices were less optimistic about increasing staff levels (balance figure +5).

RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson said:

"Commentary from participating practices continues to be generally positive. This is tempered by concerns that fee levels remain under pressure and the recent volatility of our key workload index suggests some uncertainty about the profession’s economic outlook.

"Practices are not anticipating a significant increase in public and commercial sector work. However, many reported an increase in enquiries and work in progress from the bespoke residential and domestic extension markets. Once again, the private housing and commercial sectors represent the largest areas of growth."


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Callum Reilly in the RIBA Press Office: 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 at:
  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 March 2016 was +31
  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 March 2016 was +10.
  6. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members.
  7. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates

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