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Workload predictions fall again: RIBA Future Trends survey October 2019

21 November 2019

Architects' workload predictions fell for the second consecutive month in October 2019, falling from six points to -10. This is the first time since 2012 that the RIBA’s Workload Balance Index has remained in negative territory for two months running.

Participating practices in Wales and the west of England saw the biggest drop in optimism this month, with workload predictions falling from 0 to -25. Whereas practices elsewhere returned fairly consistent results compared to September, London (-13) and the south of England (-21) both remained in negative territory.

In terms of practice size, smaller practices with fewer than ten staff predicted their workload to decrease over the following three months, dropping seven points to -15. However, the confidence of medium-sized practices (11-50 staff) increased to +31 and large practices (51+ staff) to +25.

In October, the community sector (-8) and public sector (-5) showed slight improvement, while the private housing sector fell two points (-6) and the commercial sector remained at -7.

The Future Trends Staffing Index, which measures expectations of the number of permanent staff over the next three months, fell four points to -1 in October.

RIBA Executive Director Professional Services, Adrian Dobson, said:

“The commentary from practices in October indicated ongoing concern about Brexit, with reports of fewer enquiries progressing to appointment. It would be reasonable to expect continued concern in November’s figures, following the calling of the General Election.

It is clear that clients remain apprehensive about committing to investment, and architects are reporting slowing workloads and increasing levels of personal underemployment.

We encourage RIBA members and chartered practices to make use of the range of RIBA tools and guidance. We offer practical advice on Brexit preparedness and how to manage business in times of economic uncertainty.”


Notes to editors:

1. For further press information contact: or +44 (0) 20 7307 3811

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 here

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.

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.

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. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates. 

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