The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends workload index rose grew significantly in December 2016, rising to +17 (up from +9 in November 2016).
Practices of all sizes expected to see an increase in workloads. Medium-sized practices (11–50 staff) were the most upbeat (balance figure +50). Practices in Wales and the West (balance figure +27) and the North of England (+25) were the most optimistic about increasing workloads in the medium term.
The private housing sector forecast bounced back strongly, increasing to +20 (up from +10 in November). Forecasts for the community sector and the commercial sector changed little, while the public sector forecast fell (–8, down from -2 in November).
The Future Trends staffing index fell slightly, standing at +1. Medium-sized practices were the most optimistic at recruiting new staff (balance figure +25) while large practices were more cautious (balance figure 0).
RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said, “In December, we saw many practices making up for ground lost in the previous month. Workload predictions have remained in positive territory, with no nation or region of the UK expecting work to decrease in the near future. However, commentary from practices suggests that fees and profit margins have not fully recovered to pre-recession levels.
“The impact of the referendum outcome on work in progress has so far been limited and there are currently no signs of a skills shortage. However, the longer term effects of Brexit remain uncertain, with many practices concerned about maintaining mutual recognition of professional architectural qualifications.”