The latest Future Trends Survey, published by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), indicates an "all-time high" for architects' workload with "confidence levels about future workloads continuing to rise." The February report shows +41 in the Future Trends Workload Index, up from +35 in January, with the highest balance figures coming from London (+54) and Scotland (+60). The optimistic report suggests that there "still appears to be significant spare capacity within the profession," noting that many practices actually under-employed in the last month.
"Very positive" balance figures are coming from practices of all sizes, the private housing sector workload forecast being the most buoyant. The commercial sector workload forecast and the public sector workload forecast also both saw small rises this month. The community sector workload forecast fell back slightly to +5 in February from +10 in January 2014. The RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index increased significantly this month, standing at +13 compared with +6 last month, but the 79% of practices expected their staffing levels to stay the same during the next quarter.
According to Adrian Dobson, RIBA Director of Practice, "anecdotal commentary received continues to paint a picture of a widespread pick-up in the level of enquiries and new commissions, and an increase in the amount of work progressing beyond planning. However, our practices continue to report a very competitive market for their services, particularly for smaller scale projects, and little sign of any reduction in pressure on fee levels."
The monthly survey is designed to “monitor the employment and business trends affecting the architectural profession throughout the period of economic downturn,” the data from which is analyzed by both the RIBA and the Fees Bureau. It is a “representative sample of the range of different practice sizes and geographical locations” with 1,600 British Architects from 226 firms contributing.
Read the February 2014 report in full here (PDF).