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RIBA Future Trends October 2016 survey results

Future Trends October 2016

07 December 2016

  • Value of work in progress increasing but at a lower rate than previous years
  • Medium-sized practices remain the most optimistic about future workloads
  • Large practices regain confidence in staffing and workloads

The RIBA Future Trends workload index rose significantly in October 2016, to +16 (up from +8 in September). Despite the sustained increase, the workload index is still below pre-referendum levels.

Architects based in the Midlands and East Anglia and the North of England remained optimistic. London practices continued to be more cautious, with a balance figure of zero, indicating that workloads are expected to remain the same.

Medium-sized practices were the most confident at increasing workloads (balance figure +27), followed by small practices (balance figure +16). Large practices are beginning to recover from earlier anxiety over workloads, with a balance figure of +15.

Forecasts for the commercial sector (+1) and private housing sector (+16) remained unchanged from September. The public sector forecast fell slightly, standing at –4 in October. The forecast for the community sector increased marginally to zero.

The RIBA Future Trends staffing index saw little change, rising to +1 from zero in September, showing that practices expect to maintain current staffing levels.

As with the workload index, large practices are beginning to regain some confidence in maintaining staff levels, with a balance figure of +8. However, medium-sized practices were the most positive about future staffing (balance figure +18). Small practices were the least confident, returning a balance figure of –1.

The value of overall work in progress continues to increase; however, the annualised rate of 1% is much lower than the levels seen from 2014 to early 2016.

RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson said:

“Comments from architects continue to present a mixed picture, with many practices working in the private housing sector indicating an increase in work since the summer. Meanwhile, many practices reported seeing fee levels increasing.”

“However, this was tempered by caution over funding uncertainty, especially on commercial sector work. Public sector work is experiencing a similar level of unpredictability.”


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 October 2016 was +16.
  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 October 2016 was +1.
  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.
  8. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates.

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