Value of work in progress up but caution remains as RIBA Future Trends workload index dips in October

  • Value of work in progress 4% higher than the same quarter in 2014
  • Architecture profession in positive territory despite dip in workload and staffing indices

The RIBA Future Trends Workload Index fell a little further in October 2015, standing at +18 (down from +21 in September). This suggests that practices are now more cautious than they were during 2014 and the first part of 2015.

All nations and regions in the UK nonetheless returned positive balance figures. In October 2015, practices in Northern Ireland (balance figure +25) were most optimistic about medium term workload growth; in the Midlands and East Anglia (balance figure +12) there is a greater sense of a temporary peak being reached.

Large practices (51+ staff, balance figure +57) are significantly more optimistic about future prospects than either medium-sized (11–50 staff, balance figure +17) or small practices (1–10 staff, balance figure +16).

The private housing sector workload forecast rebounded further in October, rising to +25 (up from +21 in September). The community sector forecast also saw a modest rise, standing at +3 (up from +1 in September). Meanwhile, the commercial sector workload forecast fell to +7 (down from +13 in September); the public sector workload forecast was unchanged at –3.

The survey also showed that the value of work in progress is 4% higher than in the same quarter in 2014.

The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index fell back somewhat this month to +9 (down from +12 in September). Nevertheless the Staffing Index remains in positive territory. Large practices (balance figure +29) were more optimistic about future staffing levels, compared with medium-sized (balance figure +4) and small practices (balance figure +9).

Participating practices report that they are now employing 3% more staff than this time last year.

RIBA Executive Director Members Adrian Dobson said: “The market for architectural services remains buoyant, but with a clear sense that there has been something of a slowdown in the overall pace of growth in the last few months.

“The 4% increase in the value of work in progress, compared with the equivalent quarter in 2014, shows a continuing very healthy rate of annual growth. This is nevertheless a step down from the rates of 8–10% that we saw consistently throughout 2014 and early 2015, and shows some cooling in the overall market for architectural services.

“Mirroring the trend in the Workplace Index, the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index also declined this month; our practices are now sounding something of a note of caution about future staffing levels. Still, there continues to be plenty of anecdotal evidence of practices having difficulties recruiting staff with the levels of skills and experience that they are looking for.”


Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Howard Crosskey in the RIBA press office: 020 7307 3761
  2. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and our members.
  3. Visit
  4. Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates
  5. 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.
  6. 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:
  7. 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
  8. 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 October 2015 was +18
  9. 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 October 2015 was +9

Posted on Thursday 26th November 2015

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