facility management trends
Arūnas Eitutis | 14 August 2021

Building And Facility Management Trends In 2021

Last year, we published an article with an overview of the most prevalent trends in the building management industry in 2020 – the attention was on building and facility management software, advanced technologies, building automation, and internet of things integrations. However, 2020 and 2021 have been tumultuous to say the least. Many professionals have predicted that significant changes to daily business activities will be necessary as a result of the global pandemic.

Against all the odds, the facility and building management system sector is growing and will continue to increase in the upcoming years. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% between 2021 and 2026 to attain USD 1051 billion by 2026 compared to USD 749 billion in 2020. Yet like any other sector, facility management also had certain challenges that called for innovative solutions.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses had to ensure employee safety and maintain services while keeping up with regulations. Implementing new workplace strategies to manage safety and retain employee productivity has been necessary. Thus, many industries with lots of real estate turned towards innovative solutions.

Top facilities management trends

Contactless technology

Contactless services have always been on the mind of service providers. While it wasn’t a burning issue until 2020, significant advancements in the area has been made. Primarily, the advancements were in management trends as contactless services started becoming the norm. Now it has become one of the top facility management trends globally.

Implementing contactless services into as many areas as possible brings numerous benefits. While adoption may still be slower than in other areas (such as retail), there is good reason to believe contactless technology can be used to improve not only the customer side but also the business side of the coin. According to McKinsey, companies can use contactless technology to improve safety, security, and other aspects across key business areas.

For example, implementing contactless technology in facilities can improve energy efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint. On the other hand, contactless technology is often significantly faster. Wasting time on fiddling and searching for the required tech devices or trying to remember things like PINs or passwords can be a thing of the past.

Finally, these seemingly small changes and improvements can quickly compound into huge time savings. While one person using contactless technology may save just a few seconds, hundreds of employees doing the same can have significant impact. As a nice bonus, employee satisfaction will be significantly higher as they will be able to perform their duties faster and with less hassle.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things has been regarded as one of the few breakthroughs that has the capability to revolutionize certain areas of business. In facilities management that often means integrating sensor technology and other required tools to gain access to extremely granular and real time data.

IoT devices allow facility managers to combine data from many different sectors. Additionally, they can easily perform asset tracking, inventory management, and remote monitoring through software platforms.

As the connected devices feed data into one system, facilities managers can use that information to great effect. Outside of gaining increased interaction with smart buildings, they can utilize all of the other benefits for a wide array of improvements:

  1. Sensor-based automation features. Sensor technology can feed incredible amounts of environmental and other data, allowing facility managers to gain insight into details such as temperature and space usage. In case of an emergency or emerging risk, a facility manager can resolve some issues without any human interaction.
  2. Reduced variable costs. Data provided by devices can reveal opportunities for more flexible usage of resources. For example, green buildings and other similar facilities can gain insight into usage patterns. These patterns can be analyzed to increase the efficiency of heat, electricity, and other utility use.
  3. Employee efficiency and well being. Sensor technology integrated with management software can allow employees to improve their decision making process. Getting details about facility usage or remaining space takes significantly less time, allowing them to focus more on delivering results. Additionally, employee experience may be improved if IoT is used to optimize facilities (e.g. keeping optimal levels of heat and humidity).
  4. Analytics and transparency. One of the other key trends in facilities management is the search for real time and more accurate data. For many companies, staying ahead means being able to analyze granular information about work efficiency and possible improvements. IoT brings with it a lot more data about equipment usage and the efficiency of employees that, over some time, improves workflow. Finally, having access to real time information means being able to provide clients with updates whenever requested.
  5. Risk mitigation. Motion sensors and other systems can significantly improve the security of all facilities. Security tools such as cameras and ID confirmation help facilities professionals discover and eliminate any risks before it can snowball into bigger problems. Additionally, facility managers can use these systems to find gaps in security.
  6. Predictive maintenance. As IoT devices feed companies with so much information about facilities, more accurate maintenance forecasts can be performed. Instead of relying on paper data that might have been outdated, equipment within facilities can transmit information through wireless protocols, enabling companies to react faster and more efficiently to emerging needs.

The Internet of Things has received so much buzz because it can benefit all facilities. Even older buildings can be significantly augmented in numerous areas. Of course, legacy systems will have to be replaced as software providers might have moved past them without providing the ability to integrate.

However, while it may be one of the primary facilities management trends, there is still a lack of widespread adoption. IoT devices rely on careful consistent management to be efficient. They are not a “fire-and-forget” solution. Most companies will need employees that will be able to focus on maintaining and improving IoT devices.

Additionally, the stark upfront costs required may dissuade facility management from pursuing that route. While IoT devices can have incredible benefits, budget constraints might cause today’s facilities managers to look elsewhere for improvements in their real estate.

Finally, IoT may soon become a necessity. The future of artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and robot facility monitoring is not too far away. All of these improvements will require well-integrated IoT devices to function as automation across all software sectors is built on information processing such as the previously mentioned sensor data.

Autonomous workforce

Giving technicians more autonomy and independence is one of the top facility management trends. Some facility managers are moving away from the mindset that more overhead is better. They have realized that the burden of field service is already carried by technicians as they perform both the technical and client-facing tasks. Essentially, they themselves are involved in project management.

Instead of having technicians report every minute detail to the back-office, today’s facility managers are looking for ways to provide them with more independence. After all, reporting takes time and if it’s unnecessary or can be automated, it means losing valuable time and capabilities.

Therefore, facilities managers are looking for ways to reduce unnecessary field communication and mobile capabilities without impacting service quality. If done properly, it allows both the back office and technicians to focus more on the tasks at hand without having to go through many bureaucratic motions.

However, autonomy can only be properly granted if technicians are supplied with the proper knowledge and tools at all times. Usually, that means using field service and facility management software to grant employees real time access to important information. Proper facility management software can create a digital platform where all the necessary knowledge is stored without requiring constant human input.

Implementing such software allows employees and technicians alike to streamline the entire service process. Having access to important information in real time greatly improves the overall employee experience as they can provide services more efficiently. Additionally, they are provided the ability to perform timely updates on site as customers can submit service requests more efficiently.

Finally, an autonomous workforce means wasting less time on tasks that can be automated. If your best talent is spending time filling out forms or other repetitive tasks, that is time not spent creating value for customers. As it has been for many years now, companies that automate everything at breakneck speed often outperform those who do not.

Energy management and sustainable solutions

Energy-saving, renewable energy, and sustainable business development solutions are on the rise. Governments across the world are beginning to subsidize companies that focus on acquiring energy from renewable sources. Additionally, governments of some countries are enacting penalties for those who have a large carbon footprint.

In the upcoming years, sustainable businesses are predicted to gain more traction, investments, and interest from market participants, shifting the entire market to the greener and more sustainable side. These facility management trends towards being environmentally conscious are likely to continue indefinitely.

However, the practical benefits of receiving subsidies for sustainable facilities management is not the only benefit. Outside of the obvious environmental responsibility, working in green buildings might improve the overall employee experience.

As more people become heavily invested in the protection of the environment, some look for companies that do the same. Thus, going for sustainable solutions in facilities may improve overall morale and make the company more attractive to employees and governments.

Finally, there is something to be said about the perception of sustainably facility management. There is reason to believe that going for sustainable solutions might have benefits for brand perception, marketing, and public relations purposes. Environmentally-conscious clients might look for others that do the same, creating opportunities for managers.

Parking and traffic management

Long commutes to work are one of the primary reasons for workplace unhappiness. Even modern solutions like flexible workspaces and coworking spaces help little to reduce the agony of a long commute. Couple that with parking issues that are prevalent across most of the world and the negative effects compound quickly.

Additionally, the importance of parking management may explode. A McKinsey study showed that 90% of commuters would not feel safe using public transport after the pandemic. These sentiments indicate that the use of personal automobiles for commutes may be even higher than previously, putting stress on parking spaces near facilities even further.

Therefore, it should be no surprise that parking and traffic management is one of the newest facility management trends. Companies are looking into ways to reduce the impact of commutes and improve parking spaces near facilities.

Of course, the primary way to improve parking is to look for available plots close to the facility in question. However, there are many other ways to improve parking. Some businesses look to specific software that can provide them with accurate usage data. Such information is then used to develop plans and forecast future requirements.

Another way to improve parking is to combine forces with other companies that are close by. Businesses working in different industries will have uneven parking requirements. For example, a field service company might require more flexible options if their technicians have to frequently access the back office. IT companies, on the other hand, usually have fairly fixed requirements.

Thus, communicating with neighboring businesses might bring upon opportunities to share parking spaces (for free or otherwise). As having proper access to parking is such an important part of the daily life of employees, going out of one’s way to improve that aspect can have tremendous benefits.

Integrated facilities management

Workspaces have become increasingly complex. Previously, most data from facilities has been siloed, meaning that it was stored in one particular system and never moved out of it. Integrated facilities management aims to change that.

Integrated facilities management means using solutions to gather data from numerous sources in order to gain insight into inefficiencies and possible improvements. For example, companies that own a lot of real estate may attempt to cut down on individual contracts with providers in order to consolidate services.

Other aspects of facility management such as the technology stack used to oversee the process may be truncated and normalized across all facilities. Doing so reduces the amount of software licenses required and allows employees to understand workflows across the entire company better as they don’t need to relearn.

The same goes for physical equipment. Integrated facilities management aims to consolidate inventory across the business. In essence, the goal is to have all of the information on inventory and equipment in one place. That way managers and technicians can have a more accurate understanding of the business’ capabilities and requirements. Additionally, it may reveal inefficiencies that might have gone unnoticed (e.g. one building have too much personal protective equipment and another too little).

Finally, as flexible workspaces are on the rise, the amount of overall differences (i.e. in software, systems, etc.) has to be reduced. Otherwise, the efficiency of such a process is diminished. Instead of heading everyone under multiple roofs with different rules, these integrated facilities management trends aim to think of the entire company as being headed under a single roof.

Equipping facility managers with FSM software

All of the above facility management trends rely on the advancements in technology and software to derive benefits. Modern facilities management is nearly impossible without the proper integrations being in place.

One of the primary ways to improve real estate management within companies is to implement facility and field service management solutions. These solutions are highly similar to CRMs, however, they are meant to optimize the use of facilities and the workflows of field service workers.

In facilities management, FSM software is often the primary driver of optimization. While it takes some time to get used to the new solutions, they provide numerous benefits such as better forecasts for predictive maintenance and enabling data driven decision making.

According to a McKinsey study, businesses whose employees are more educated on data concepts are more frequently high performing ones. In field service and facilities management, FSM solutions are the first step into data driven decision making.

Therefore, as facilities management companies are looking for more ways to optimize, the only way to have an opportunity to stay ahead is through FSM software.

Conclusion

Facilities management is a quickly progressing field. Most businesses in the field are thinking about or implementing digital transformation to gain more efficiency and reduce operating costs. However, the adoption of facilities management software has been slow when compared to other industries. Yet, this may be considered an unexpected boon – there is a simple and efficient way of staying ahead and possibly even beating out the competition.

Looking for ways to optimize facility use and management? Frontu is here to help. Our dedicated FSM solution will help you manage your field service workforce and improve overall operational efficiency in facilities. Our solution can help you stay ahead of the competition without having to go through large-scale overhaul. Book a demo call with our team to find out how Frontu may benefit your business.

Arūnas Eitutis
Founder & CEO

Arūnas is spearheading the Frontu efforts as the company’s CEO but still finds the time to share some of his knowledge, expertise and experience in the FSM sector through our blog.

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