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Michael Barker gives his opinion on the RIBA’s workload predictions

23rd July 2020

The latest RIBA Future Trends Workload Index moved towards positive territory for architects, climbing to -17 in June, from -49 in May. However, it found that overall workloads for architects are 28% lower than they were a year ago.

A rapidly shrinking commercial market has particularly impacted medium to large architectural practices operating in major cities, highlighting the need for practices to diversify. Indeed, the Government’s recent ‘Plan for Jobs’ announcement, which brought forward a range of capital spending commitments in a bid to accelerate activity, has seen many businesses having to quickly switch their focus to public-sector development.

Speaking to architecure.com, Michael Barker, Senior Partner at Stephen George + Partners (SGP), said: “Over the years, we have learned the hard way that you cannot be a sector-only practice. At moments of crisis you are exposed. We have a strategy of working in counter-cyclical sectors, to make the most of public-sector investment and private sector growth.”

One private-sector area in which SGP is experiencing growth is in logistics. According to Savills latest Big Shed Briefing, take-up of large industrial and logistics space hit a record high in the first half of 2020 despite the pandemic.

Logistics represents over 50% of SGP’s turnover and the practice and has completed over 40 million square feet of Industrial and Logistics floorspace. The diversity and range of work within the sector means SGP can bring a great deal of added value to the table. Michael told architecure.com: “Like any sector, winning work in logistics is about who you know. It is developer-led, so requires networking with developers and establishing a reputation.”