It's safe to say that the world has undergone many changes in the past year, especially in the workplace. Companies have had to completely reinvent their operations, adapting to the new normal. As a sector, facilities management has been dramatically impacted by the pandemic. With more and more employees looking to work remotely, facilities managers must think outside the box to keep business running. As a result, new developments in the facilities management industry are rising as we enter 2021. These trends highly involve reshaping the infrastructure of the workplace environment, realigning organizations to more digital means. Incorporating these trends will allow businesses to find the success that will follow them into the post-pandemic world.
Promoting Social Distance
A primary concern for companies in 2021 is managing social distance in the workplace. While many employees have migrated to working from home, some operations cannot be performed remotely. Beyond that, organizations are facing a great deal of technical issues with employees working from home in make-shift offices with equipment that may not ideal for their projects. For these reasons and more, companies are eager to get employees back into the office while keeping team members safe and healthy.
To achieve this, many facilities managers are utilizing the services of smart office providers. An instrumental tool available is workplace scheduling software. This allows employees to manage desks, meeting rooms, and even parking spaces within their company's physical office. This software enables team members to book work areas in advance, allowing them the space to work at their convenience. With assigned desks and seating enabled with real-time tracking, employees can see all available workspaces within their company's building. This will allow colleagues to work together easily and avoid confusion while remaining socially distant. Additionally, you can ensure that you are adhering to safety regulations while allowing employees to get back to work with capacity control. The advanced technology at work will give employees a sense of normalcy while maintaining social distance within the office.
Another rising facility management trend of the year is AI. Whether companies are looking to get back into the office or optimize remote work, AI is an excellent solution. Now more than ever, software providers are committed to offering workplace innovation and developing ways to further incorporate AI and robotics in facilities management. AI tools such as facility monitoring and augmented reality, integrated with the internet of things (IoT), allow companies to keep pace with the technological age of business. Automated technology and wireless services are significantly advancing our remote-access capabilities, allowing users to access their data in real-time from any location. A significant benefit of this would be remote control. Remote control would enable managers to have full access to their facilities without a physical presence. IoT sensor technology has endless facility management applications, including; inventory management, equipment monitoring, and even air conditioning and lighting. For facility management to integrate these tools, both physical and remote workplaces will be revolutionized.
With the implementation of complex software such as AI and IoT, your software must be interoperable. Research shows that 40-60% of IoT devices are dependent on interoperability, so it is a must-have feature. Your software should work as an overarching system, each piece connected to all others so that they can perform to their maximum ability. This will ease the transition of data from one system to another, allowing team members convenient access to in-depth facility management information. Because these systems can be highly complex, it is crucial to consider user experience when implementing them. Through interconnectivity, the migration to digitization will be significantly simplified. With more user-friendly platforms, you will gain a better insight into your operations, allowing for better visibility and decision-making. With so much change and uncertainty in these unprecedented times, your team members will thank you for simplifying things where you can.
For companies embracing a hybrid workplace, a mix of remote and office work, interconnectivity is incredibly vital. It is essential that employees working in this hybrid structure can communicate with each other and access the same software. Ensuring that your software is interoperable will allow employees to work on projects simultaneously, from any location or device. This can be used to operate virtual meetings and conferences, in addition to regular operations and projects, allowing coworkers to co-work efficiently.
It comes as no surprise that businesses are looking to go green. We are currently fighting a climate crisis, so companies must implement sustainable business practices to remain compliant with regulations and maintain a positive brand image. As a facilities manager, you should strive to provide sustainable equipment and solutions, lowering the carbon footprint of your organization and others you work with. This may seem like an easier task for newer buildings; after all, they have the flexibility to start from scratch and implement green solutions from the get-go. While this may be true, older buildings are just as capable of shifting to more sustainable practices. By adopting modern infrastructures such as HVAC units, insulation strategies, and automatic lights, you will be moving in the right direction. More significant investments such as solar energy sources are will also extremely advantageous solutions to consider.
While going-green is not necessarily a new trend, it has been driven forward by recent technological developments. Because companies are already implementing new software systems, it only makes sense that they have sustainable business practices in mind when doing so. A great example of this is the use of artificial intelligence, as mentioned prior. AI contains predictive maintenance capabilities. In its most simple sense, predictive maintenance will notify managers of necessary equipment maintenance and opportunities for optimization. With sustainability in mind, managers can also use this feature to monitor wasted time, resources, and parts. In monitoring these, managers can find ways to continue to use materials, maximizing their useful life and reducing waste.
Shifting from Operations to Strategy
With such innovative technology available and high opportunity for sustainable improvement, the proximity of a facility manager's role is evolving from strictly operational to strategic as well. While it is still crucial for management to run the daily operations of their facility, it’s time to start thinking about the big picture. In optimizing your facilities management with the trends of 2021, you can significantly improve operations. From AI software to green buildings, you can not only maintain operations during the pandemic but optimize them. Ensuring that your team members can work together, whether from a socially distanced office or the comfort of their home, is essential to any company’s success. These trends will reinvent your facilities management operations, enhancing operations for team members and managers alike.
The “new normal” is here to stay, so your organization must embrace it to keep up with the times. Technological innovation is everywhere – and it needs to be in the workplace.