RIBA Future Trends February survey reveals architects’ confidence remains steady

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index decreased in February yet remained in firmly positive territory (down to +21, from +29 in January).

Large practices (51+ staff) were by far the most positive (balance figure +50). Small practices (1–10 staff, balance figure +25) and medium-sized practices (11–50 staff, balance figure +19) also continue to predict increases in workload.

Practices in the North of England were the most confident this month (balance figure +30); those in Wales and the West (+15) and Scotland (0) were more cautious about future workload levels.

The private housing sector forecast remains the strongest area of growth with a marginal increase to +31 in February 2016 (up from +30 in January).

Ground was lost in both the commercial sector workload forecast (+10 in February, down from +14 in January) and public sector workload forecast (+1 in February, down from +7 in January).

Breaking into positive territory for the first time since November 2015, the community sector forecast increased to +2 in February.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index fell, standing at +7 in February 2016 (down from +10 in January).

Medium-sized and large practices were both optimistic about taking on additional staff during the next quarter (balance figures +30 and +33 respectively). Small practices were less confident about future staffing levels (balance figure +8 in February).

RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said:

“The Workload Index remains in firmly positive territory, despite some volatility in recent months. This is perhaps more related to general economic uncertainties rather than factors specific to the market for architectural services. The majority of responding practices predict an increase in workloads in the medium term.”

“A number of practices have reported a more stable pipeline of longer term, larger scale projects. Private housing remains the best performing sector in our survey, showing how central this has been to continuing growth in architects’ workloads.”