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Workloads up but practices far from full capacity

Architects’ workloads are continuing to rise despite almost a fifth of practices reporting that they are working below full capacity

The figures come from RIBA’s Future Trends Survey which this month reported ‘a significant increase’ in projected work, with workload forecasts hitting ‘an all-time high of +41 in February’; a gain of five points from last month.

The positive mood is reflected across the UK but the most bullish future workload forecasts came from practices based in London (balance figure +54) and Scotland (balance figure +60). 

In what is appears to be an ongoing trend, the private housing sector workload forecast continued to increase, last month hitting +40, up five points from January.  The commercial sector workload forecast (balance figure +16) and the public sector workload forecast (balance figure +8) also both saw small rises this month. 

The only negative was the community sector workload forecast which fell back to +5 in February from +10 the previous month. 

Staff levels also rose from +6 in January to +13 in February despite the majority of practices (79 per cent) reporting that they expected their staffing levels to stay the same during the next quarter. 

And RIBA also reported ‘significant spare capacity within the architects’ profession’ with 19 per cent, or almost a fifth of the practices, working below maximum capacity.

RIBA director of practice, Adrian Dobson said: ‘The current growth is largely being driven by a widespread strengthening of the private housing sector across the UK and a pick-up in commercial projects, particularly in London.

‘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,’ said Dobson.

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