What will a new year hold for us? What should we prepare for? While no one can see the future with 100% accuracy, we thought we’d make a few predictions based on what we saw in 2021. We’ve dusted off our crystal ball and are ready to share our top 4 facilities management predictions for 2022. Here we go!
1. Workplace Management Will Get Smarter and More Integrated
The great Return To Work will be slow and steady, but occupancy will still remain lower than in pre-COVID times. We’ve already seen how that’s resulting in reduced office footprints and an increase in flex space for workers. This continued emphasis on smart use of space means there needs to be smarter management of the space as well.
Building owners and facility managers will be turning to intelligent, IoT, AI-powered systems to help improve energy efficiency, measure occupancy, maintain security, track maintenance needs, and more. But instead of 7 different tools to manage 7 different functions, there’ll be greater demand for integrated systems that connect multiple tools and data sources, allowing them to be managed from a single pane of glass.
For example, occupancy sensors can detect when no one is using a space and signal the lights to turn off and the HVAC to raise or lower the temperature. If one of the lightbulbs is burned out or an air filter needs changing, work orders can be scheduled to resolve the issues. This information can be tracked over time to determine how much a particular space is actually being used and how much it’s costing to maintain that area, which can help forecast future needs.
2. Condition Assessments Will be Conducted More Frequently
Buildings operate better if they are used. Issues build up when they are not. Many facilities continue to run on skeleton crews - which can cause two problems.
First, with fewer people around to notice issues, problems can go undetected and become even bigger problems. Something as simple as a little leak can cause lots of damage if not fixed in a timely manner. Second, if a building isn't fully occupied, deferred maintenance is often deferred even further. You can only put off your maintenance for so long before it urgently needs attention.
Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs) provide an accurate, current picture of the state of your facilities. Can you get away with deferring that bit of maintenance a little longer? What issues should take priority? Where are the potential problems that could hit in the next few months or years that you should plan for now? An FCA can help you answer these kinds of questions.
With few employees in the building at any given time, an FCA becomes your eyes and ears onsite. You’ll most likely need to conduct condition assessments more often than you normally would. And if there’s ever a time to transition from paper assessments to a digital tool, it’s now. A digital FCA can be easily updated every time you conduct a new assessment - and you can access the results from anywhere.
3. Higher Ed Facilities Will Start to Transform
The pandemic changed how we view many of the "norms" of the past - including how we attend school. Students' preferences are driving change in the world of higher education. Their biggest preference? Virtual learning.
The old 300-seat auditorium where things like hearing well or seeing what’s going on aren’t a guarantee is on its way out. It’s been replaced with high quality audio and video where everyone has the best seat in class (and you can no longer risk sleeping through your Friday lecture after a long Thursday night).
These changes have huge implications for what higher education will look like in the future. Institutions should poll their students and collect data to start answering questions like:
- Do students really need a four-year residential experience?
- What does the classroom of the future look like in order to provide hybrid and remote learning?
- What IT infrastructure improvements are needed for online education and services?
- Does your student body require counseling, financial aid, and other services to be online?
From space utilization to infrastructure investment, colleges and universities will face some major decisions in the year ahead.
4. Healthcare Institutions Will Have to Get Creative to Conduct Maintenance
Wave after wave of COVID cases are pushing healthcare institutions to their breaking point. The facilities themselves are under stress along with the front-line employees. Unlike many buildings that are under-occupied, healthcare facilities are bursting at the seams. Often, there aren’t enough rooms in hospitals and ERs to keep up with demand.
This historically high level of need has made it nearly impossible to schedule and complete routine maintenance - not to mention much needed larger projects. Yet healthcare facilities must be operating at their best in order to provide proper care. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Healthcare providers will need to re-think their approach to at least some aspects of their facilities management. That requires good data - like the kind you collect in a Facility Condition Assessment (FCA). Healthcare facilities will increase the number of assessments they conduct in order to keep a closer eye on everything and identify the most important areas needing attention.
Using FCA data, hospitals and clinics will be better equipped to:
- Focus on the most critical systems, such as HVAC, fire, security, and building automation
- Determine additional staffing needs to fill any maintenance gaps
- Identify items that can be managed remotely (alarm resets, equipment restarts)
- Pivot to a condition-based maintenance program
These types of changes are a lot easier to manage with a hospital facility management system, so we may also see an uptick in healthcare providers investing in and implementing a management tool.
Here's to a New Year
Facilities management never holds still - there are always new challenges to overcome and fascinating new trends to watch. What do you think 2022 will bring? Let us know in the comments.