RIBA Future Trends survey shows post-referendum volatility

  • Architects’ workload predictions return to positive territory in August following dip in July
  • Workload index remains lower than in first half of 2016
  • Only private housing sector expected to see workload growth

In August, the RIBA Future Trends workload index rose after suffering in the first month following the UK referendum on membership of the EU. Despite rising into positive territory in August, with a balance figure of +8, the index remains significantly lower than in the first half of the year.

Practices based in London were the least optimistic, predicting a decrease in architectural workloads (balance figure –6). Practices in the North of England, East Anglia and the Midlands were notably more positive.

Large practices (51+ staff) were more anxious about sustaining workloads over the next three months, with a balance figure of –17; small (1–10 staff) and medium-sized (11–50 staff) practices were more optimistic.

The private housing sector remained the strongest of the sector forecasts, with a balance figure of +7. The forecasts for the commercial, community and public sector stayed in negative territory.

The RIBA Future Trends staffing index increased slightly, standing at +7 in August (up from +4 in July). Small and medium-sized practices expected staffing levels to increase in the medium-term; large practices were more cautious, returning a balance figure of zero.

RIBA Executive Director Members, Adrian Dobson, said:

“Commentary from participating practices is still being driven by Brexit-related uncertainty. A small number of practices have again reported projects cancelled or postponed as a direct or indirect result of the referendum outcome. It is likely that the workload index will remain volatile as the full implications of the UK’s changing relationship with the EU emerge.”



1. For further press information contact Callum Reilly in the RIBA press office: 020 7307 3757

2. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. @RIBA

3. Completed by a mix of small, medium and large firms based on a geographically representative sample, the RIBA Future Trends Survey was launched in January 2009 to monitor business and employment trends affecting the architects’ profession.

4. The Future Trends Survey is carried out by the RIBA in partnership with the Fees Bureau. Results of the survey, including a full graphical analysis, are published each month at:

5. To participate in the RIBA Future Trends Survey, please contact the RIBA Practice Department on 020 7307 3749 or email The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete each month, and all returns are independently processed in strict confidence

6. The definition for the workload balance figure is the difference between those expecting more work and those expecting less. A negative figure means more respondents expect less work than those expecting more work. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index, which for August 2016 was +8

7. The definition for the staffing balance figure is the difference between those expecting to employ more permanent staff in the next three months and those expecting to employ fewer. A negative figure means more respondents expect to employ fewer permanent staff. This figure is used to represent the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index, which for August 2016 was +7

Posted on Thursday 22nd September 2016

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