The monthly Future Trends workload index gained strength in March, rising to +22 from February’s figure of +16. Architecture practices in Northern Ireland were the most optimistic about future workloads (balance figure +57), followed by Midlands and East Anglia (+37) and the North of England (+30). Practices in London (+13) and the South of England (+6) trailed, though remaining somewhat positive.
Medium-sized practices (11–50 staff) were more optimistic about future workloads, with a balance figure of +36, than either small or large practices - both standing at +20.
RIBA executive director members, Adrian Dobson, said: “Despite some of the economic and political uncertainties in the months ahead, responding practices are expecting their pipeline of work to remain healthy in the medium-term. However, anecdotal commentary suggests there are signs of practices being less confident about the longer-term outlook.”
For the first time in over a year, all four sector forecasts predicted growth. The private housing sector is still expected to be the strongest performer over the next quarter despite a slight decline in the workload forecast (falling to +20 in March from +23 in February). The public sector (+2) and community sector forecasts (+1) edged back into positive territory while the commercial sector increased to +9.
The RIBA Future Trends staffing index increased to +12 in March (up from +9 in February), with only 6% of practices expecting to employ fewer staff in three months’ time.
Medium-sized practices were again the most positive about future staffing levels (balance figure +20), compared with large (balance figure +10) and small practices (balance figure +12).