The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Future Trends workload index rose in January 2017, increasing to +24 (up from +17 in December 2016). Overall confidence about future workloads is at pre-Referendum levels.
Practices in the North of England saw the biggest increase in workload expectations (balance figure +48); the South of England and Wales and the West also remained optimistic. London practices were more cautious with the balance figure standing at +15 (unchanged from December 2016).
Large practices (51+ staff) were more optimistic than medium-sized and small practices, but practices of all sizes expected medium-term workloads to increase.
The private house sector forecast increased slightly to +22 (up from +20 in December 2016). The commercial sector forecast also rose, to +4 in January 2017. The public sector recovered marginally, but remained in negative territory at –6; the community sector forecast fell to +1.
The RIBA Future Trends staffing index made a strong recovery, rising to +8 in January 2017 (up from +1 in December 2016). 94% of practices expected their staffing levels to increase or stay the same over the next quarter.
In January, medium-sized practices were again the most optimistic about retaining and increasing staff (balance figure +27), followed by large practices at +25. Small practices were the least confident (balance figure +4).
RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said, “Commentary from practices is generally positive this month, particularly for practices working in the private housing sector. Optimism about staffing shows that there is a healthy employment market for salaried architects, which should continue into the spring.
“Workload expectations are at pre-Referendum levels. However, we have yet to see whether Brexit will have a significant economic impact on architects’ work in the long-term.”