It’s 2022 – and Here’s What’s Happening in Facilities Management
Facility Management Trends
In the hustle and grind of keeping the lights on, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s happening in the facilities management industry – and how new developments may impact your buildings. So let’s pause for a second and look at a few key trends that should be on your radar.
Finally getting those FCAs done
For at least a couple of years now, many buildings have been operating either far over capacity (hospitals) or way under capacity (schools and office buildings). Whatever end of the spectrum you may be on, building owners need to understand what affects these last 24-36 months have had on their facilities. The best way to determine that is with a facility condition assessment.
Thankfully, as pandemic pressure has begun to ease somewhat, more facilities have the bandwidth to conduct an updated FCA.
Lessons for building owners and managers
While necessary, an FCA is time-consuming, expensive, and – perhaps worst of all – becomes obsolete almost as soon as it’s printed out. At least that’s the case if you’re not using FCA software.
An FCA software program collects and compiles all of your data electronically (vs. on a paper checklist). It becomes living data that can be updated and organized in any way you want. In other words, the software creates a digital twin of your physical facilities that never goes out of date.
In addition to storing your historical data so you don’t have to start from square one every time you do an FCA, a software tool can also empower you with incredibly helpful information, such as:
- Cost: See the total cost of major repairs and replacements by year, as well as a line-by-line breakdown of each year’s major costs.
- Risk: More effectively convey why a project should be prioritized.
- Consequence: Shed some light on accumulating deferral costs.
- Priority: Compare buildings across the entire facility portfolio and view their condition to identify investment priorities.
Take a good look at your current FCA process. There’s a strong chance your organization could benefit from a software tool. For example, you can check out AkitaBox’s FCA solution to get an idea of how they work.
Exploring new technology solutions to fill labor shortages
Thanks to greatly reduced facilities usage during Covid, facilities jobs (by and large) have become commoditized. The same thing basically happened in the construction industry in 2017, and now it’s the facilities industry’s turn. A lot of facilities employees were laid off or let go during the height of the pandemic – and many of them aren’t coming back.
The secret to staying productive with fewer employees is to improve the efficiency of your facility workflows using automation and software. To save time and effort wherever possible, building owners and operators are increasingly turning to new solutions to:
- Automate monotonous, low-skill tasks
- Integrate disparate data into a single source
- Clearly map out processes
- Schedule tasks
- Allocate assets
- And more
Instead of wasting time searching for checklists, entering data into spreadsheets, or tracking down a tough-to-find asset, your employees can focus on doing assessments, completing work orders, and getting a handle on preventive maintenance tasks. That’s the power of streamlined workflows.
Another important way to help improve productivity and retain the staff you do have is to build the sort of culture that employees want to work in. We’ve got some tips to help you do just that.
Lessons for building owners and managers
Whether you’re currently using facilities management software or are actively looking for a solution, it’s a good time to evaluate how your tool of choice is holding up under the pressure of labor shortages. A good software solution should:
- Automate tasks and processes
You might be surprised by how much time in an employee’s day is spent doing routine activities that could easily be done by a computer program. Automate those mundane tasks, so your employees can spend their time on work that actually requires their specialized skills.
- Manage workflows
Another way to save time is by standardizing and automaking your workflows. Doing so ensures work is done correctly, consistently, and efficiently. It also stops the confusion of determining what the next steps in a process are, who is responsible for each step, and confirming what steps have already been completed.
- Seamlessly integrate applications
One of the most important things your facilities management software should do is eliminate data silos. Switching from one program to another is a big time suck for employees. A software solution that integrates your work orders, inspections, facility condition assessments, compliance, and capital planning into one unified database makes it easier to find accurate information quickly.
- Anticipate your labor needs
A facilities management program gives you a centralized location for storing accurate information on what’s going on in your buildings. By looking at facility condition assessments, work orders, preventive maintenance schedules, and capital budgets, you can determine your workforce requirements in advance. So if you do end up needing to hire more employees, you have more time to attract the right workers instead of scrambling to play catch-up.
Check out how facility management software helped UW Health save months of time and $250,000 on their inspections.
Reimagining what our workspaces look like
Everywhere you look, you see more flex space and fewer permanent offices. Take the AkitaBox physical office, for example. After being without an office space for nearly two years, we finally started leasing a small space in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. But it’s not like our pre-pandemic office.
You won’t find any cubicles here. Sure, we have a few offices for key personnel, but otherwise our entire space is set up so our mostly remote employees can drop in when it suits them – with temporary workstations that plug into laptops, Zoom rooms for calls with remote team members, and small quiet rooms for taking calls or just getting away from office noise for a bit. Like many other businesses, we’ve opted for a smaller footprint with maximum flexibility. It’s a refreshing change from the old set up.
Lessons for building owners and managers
Greater demand for nontraditional and hybrid offices means buildings must incorporate flexible, health-conscious workspaces or risk becoming obsolete.
Commercial property owners should assess their office buildings and plan for necessary improvements, including:
- Interior layouts that can support hoteling, video conferencing, more space between desks, safer communal areas.
- Adding air filtration to HVAC systems to help stop the spread of germs.
- Touchless technology such as motion-activated doors and lights.
- Germ-free/germ-resistant materials that are easier to clean.
- Upgraded video conferencing setups.
Creating more sustainable buildings can also help make more desirable work spaces. Going green brings numerous benefits to both building occupants and owners, as you can learn more about here and here.
Data will continue to be your friend as office usage evolves. From tracking how many hours the lights are on in specific areas to the number of times an electronic door is accessed, buildings owners and managers can track employee activities and use of space. Analyzing this data and comparing it with historical usage can tell you if your building is being fully and effectively utilized.
Combining this data monitoring with your building management systems can help you identify ways to improve energy efficiency and cost-effectively distribute building resources – all of which can help create a more responsive and productive environment for the people using your building.
Attending conferences in-person again
Facilities management conferences are starting to move back to being in-person events – and we couldn’t be more excited! It’s time to get back out there, reconnect with people in your industry, and see first-hand some of the latest innovations in FM.
Be sure to say hi when you see us on the conference circuit this year. Here’s where you’ll find AkitaBox in 2022:
- PDC Summit: March 20-23 – New Orleans, LA
- NFMT: March 29-31 – Baltimore, MD
- IFMA Facility Fusion: April 26-28 – Austin, TX
- ACEC Annual Convention: May 22-25 – Washington, DC
- ASHE Annual Conference: July 17-20 – Boston, MA
- WHEA Annual Conference: September 20-23 – LaCrosse, WI
- IFMA World Workplace: September 28-30 – Nashville, TN
- Higher Ed Facilities Forum: November 12-14 – Palm Springs, CA
Where are we going from here?
Facilities management is always changing. New challenges arise, old ways of doing things go by the wayside. While you can’t always know what the future will bring, you CAN be ready to respond quickly and effectively. How, you ask? It all comes down to data.
Having data you can trust. Keeping all of your facilities data in one place that everyone can access. Generating reports and dashboards that show your history, current state, and future predictions. All of this equips you to pivot your priorities as the world changes.
Having an experienced facilities management partner can help you take your data from a scattered collection of documents to an accurate, unified resource for your team. Intrigued? We’d love to show you how we help building owners and operators take control of their facilities data. Check us out!