Architects expect growing workloads as confidence returns

Image by Evgeniy Surzhan on Unsplash

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published its latest Future Trends Survey which suggest confidence is returning. 

The monthly report of business and employment trends affecting the profession shows architects expect workloads to increase – ending a 10-month spell of pessimism – and also anticipate stable staffing levels.

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index rose by 2 points to +2, indicating architects expect workloads to increase overall. 

This is the first time the Workload Index has been positive since June 2023, marking a return to optimism since last month’s Workload Index figure of 0 ended the longest run of pessimism since the survey began in 2009. 

Over the next three months, 19% of practices expect workloads to increase, 17% expect them to decrease and 63% expect them to stay the same.  

The outlook of small practices (1-10 staff) remains negative but better, rising by 1 point to -1, while the outlook of medium (11+ staff) and large (50+ staff) practices remains optimistic, improving by 5 points, reaching a combined Workload Index figure of +19.  

Three out of four monitored work sectors also have an improved outlook. 

The outlook for the private housing sector (-3) improved by 5 points, while the commercial (0) and community (-12) sectors both rose by 3 points. The outlook for the public sector (-9) held steady.  

Regionally, the picture remains mixed. 

The workload outlook of practices in the South of England stands out at +24, a 36-point improvement and the first positive figure for the region since March 2023.

The outlook in the North of England  also remains positive at +11. 

However, London’s confidence dipped by 3 points to -2, Wales and the West fell by 3 points to -5, and the Midlands and East Anglia dropped 12 points to -15.  

Architects also anticipate steady permanent staffing levels and more temporary staff 

In April, the RIBA Future Trends Permanent Staffing Index fell by 2 points to 0, indicating that the same number of practices intend to increase staff numbers as reduce them. 

Over the next three months, 11% of practices expect to employ more permanent staff, 10% expect to employ fewer, and 79% anticipate making no changes.   

RIBA head of economic research and analysis Adrian Malleson said:  “After 10 months of pessimism, the latest Future Trends data paints a positive picture of growing workloads.

“April’s findings are the most encouraging for some time, and part of a longer-term trend of an improving outlook, despite month-on-month fluctuations. 

“Caution is still needed, as workloads are lower than a year ago, with a mixed regional picture and high personal underemployment. However, the vital housing and commercial sectors show early signs of a tentative recovery. 

Some practices also note a strengthening market overall, an uptick in the public housing sector, and the significance of overseas work.”


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