The Royal Institute of British Architect (RIBA)'s Future Trends Survey results for July 2015 present a note of caution for architecture practices with a fall in both workload and staffing forecasts. However, optimism remains as staffing levels are higher than a year ago. Despite June’s record-high forecast, July 2015 saw a downturn in the RIBA Future Trends Workload Index from +44 to +22. Even so, practices reported an overall increase in workload at an annual rate of 8%, and staffing levels 6% higher than in 2014.
Balance figures remain positive across the UK, with practices in the North of England being most optimistic at +48. Practices of all sizes remain positive about work prospects, despite the slight fall of the private housing, commercial and public sector workload forecasts.
Although the RIBA Future Trends Staffing Index also declined this month, 98% of respondents expected staffing levels to either increase or stay the same over the next few months. Small and medium-sized practices are still confident about increasing their staffing levels; large practices are more likely to be actively appointing new staff.
“Despite the fall in our headline index, it is important to state that our forecast remains firmly in positive territory," said RIBA Executive Director Member, Adrian Dobson. "It is too early to say if this is a definitive trend and the crucial autumn period will give a better indication of the prevailing sentiment.”
He added, “Our participating practices continue to suggest that the majority of firms are seeing solid growth in workloads, though there is significant pressure on fee levels and profit margins on projects typically remain tight, constraining salary levels…The overall economic environment for architects continues to be positive, despite the cautionary note sounded by this month’s survey results.”
The monthly survey is designed to “monitor the employment and business trends affecting the architectural profession throughout the period of economic downturn.” The data 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 reports in full here.