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RIBA Future Trends forecast shows cautious optimism in November 2016

Future Trends November 2016

10 January 2017

The RIBA Future Trends workload index dipped to +9 in November 2016 (down from +16 in October), though remained firmly in positive territory. London practices continued to be most cautious about future workloads (balance figure zero). Elsewhere the outlook was more optimistic, with the Midlands and East Anglia (balance figure +21) remaining most positive.

Large practices (51+ staff) continued to show an upswing in confidence levels, with a balance figure of +33. Medium-sized practices (11 - 50 staff), with a balance figure of +36, were most positive about future work prospects.

The commercial sector workload forecast increased to +4 in November 2016, up from +1 in October. However, the private housing sector workload forecast was down slightly, standing at +10 in November compared with +16 in October.

Participating practices anticipate little change in overall public sector demand for architectural services in the medium term - the public sector workload forecast saw a marginal improvement, up to -2 in November from -4 in October, though remaining in negative territory. The community sector forecast also increased marginally, rising to +1 from zero in October.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index crept up one balance point this month, rising to +2 in November 2016 from +1 in October. This month it was medium-sized practices (11 - 50 staff), with a balance figure of +28, that were the most positive about future staffing levels.

RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson said:

“Commentary received from our participating practices this month can generally be best characterised as cautious optimism.

“The private housing sector, particularly in the South of England and the Midlands and East Anglia, clearly remains buoyant. A number of participants indicated that they had detected some greater caution on the part of investors in the commercial office market.

“The overall sense from the profession is of an employment market that is currently broadly in balance, with little evidence of any immediate skills shortage.”


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Callum Reilly in the RIBA press office: 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. 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
  5. 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 November 2016 was +9
  6. 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 November 2016 was +2
  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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