The RIBA’s monthly Future Trends Survey was launched in January 2009 to
monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.
Participants give monthly predictions for overall workload and staffing levels
over the next three months, and are also asked about their workload predictions
in key sectors: private housing, commercial, community and public sector. Practices
are also asked on a quarterly basis about their current workload and staffing
levels. The Survey is carried out by the RIBA in partnership with the Fees Bureau.
The following is a summary analysis of the results from the
October 2013 Survey returns.
Future workload (October 2013)
How do you expect the architectural workload in the organisation you work in or own to change over the next three months?
|Stay the same
(The definition for the balance figure is the difference between those expecting more work and those expecting less.)
The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index sustained a further
significant increase this month, rising to +35 in October 2013 from +26 in
September 2013. This is the highest balance figure for our key workload forecast
index since we started the RIBA Future Trends Survey in January 2009, and
suggesting an aggregate upturn in project enquiries this autumn. Our practices
are increasingly optimistic about their medium term future work flows.
Of even greater significance is that our quarterly returns for the
levels of actual work in progress are now showing an annual increase for the
first time since the financial crisis, suggesting that an extremely challenging
and drawn out recession in the market for architectural services is finally
coming to an end. Our practices reported an 11% aggregate increase in workload
between October 2012 and October 2013. We estimate though that overall
architects’ workloads are about one third below the peak of early 2008, so there
remains a huge amount of lost territory to make up. We will be monitoring
closely to see if this growth is maintained when we next ask for quarterly work
in progress figures in January 2014.
All categories of practices by size, and all the nations and
regions in the UK, returned positive workload forecast balance figures in
October 2013, continuing to indicate that the growing optimism about an upturn
in overall workloads is now widespread throughout the UK and across the
difference scales of practice.
The following graph plots the RIBA Future Workload Index over time:
The private housing sector workload balance figure increased to
+34 in October 2013, up from +25 in September, indicating that architects
continue to feel confident about prospects in this sector. The commercial sector
workload balance figure rose to +18 in October 2013, up from +17 in September;
the steady improvement in the commercial sector forecast bodes well for future
growth in this key sector. The public sector and community sector workload
forecasts were both unchanged at +3 in October 2013.
The following graph tracks the sector predictions in the RIBA Future Trends
Survey over time:
Future staffing levels (October 2013)
How do you think the number of permanent architectural staff employed in your organisation will change over the next three months?
|Stay the same
(The definition for the balance figure is the difference between
those expecting to employ more permanent staff in the next three months and
those expecting to employ fewer.)
The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index stands at +14 in October
2013, a significant increase compared with +7 in September. Practices,
particularly large practices (50+ staff), continue to become more confident
about their ability to sustain higher staffing levels.
One note of caution is that the percentage of our respondents
reporting that they had personally been under-employed in the last month
remained stubbornly at 20%, suggesting that there remains a significant degree
of over-capacity in the architects’ profession at present.
The following graph plots the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index over time:
Whilst the anecdotal commentary received from our practice
continues to paint a somewhat mixed picture, the overall balance of
correspondence suggests steadily growing confidence, with many practices
reporting a notable increase in enquiries and dormant projects springing back
into life. It is also clear though that fee competition remains tight.
The RIBA Future Trends Survey is based on a representative
sample of the range of different practice sizes and geographical locations which
enables analysis of the trends in sectors, size groups and by nation and region.
A total of 203 practices took part in the Survey in October 2013. The development of a larger database
of respondents will increase the statistical accuracy of the survey, and if
your practice would like to participate in future months, please contact the
RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all
returns are independently processed in strict confidence by our partners the