As companies return to business with on-site staff (although facility management technicians have always been on deck), as COVID-19 evolves, the term 'new normal' emerges to describe the new ways in which society organises itself to live, work or play. The realisation of this new normal is not without anxiety and fear, but rather with an anxiety that life as we know it is over.
One thing is sure, however: there is now a non-negotiable need to create healthier buildings - and not just for safety reasons, but also to reassure the occupants. To alleviate anxieties, facility management must move from a back-office role to a player in the employee experience. A three-pronged approach can help facility management meet these new expectations and provide occupants with greater visibility into how they are making buildings safer, greener and more convenient : the experience of the working environment, digitalisation and technology, and environmental issues.
A recent study by the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) indicates that at least 33% of employees now expect to work mostly remotely. As a result, 72% are looking for a mix of office and remote working - the so-called 'hybrid workspace' - while 53% believe that organisations will make greater use of coworking sites, satellite offices and similar spaces in the future.
The place where we chose to work will be conditioned by the tasks and their requirements we have to achieve. We will work where it makes the most sense at any given time, where we feel most comfortable and effective. Organisations will have to be more flexible and take into account individual needs for an optimal employee experience.
In terms of technology, there are three key areas of focus for facility managers:
It is important to be able to connect the dots between all the data present in the building, which provides more nad more of them. Therefore, it is essential to have a clear vision of one's asset portfolio as well as a well-trained team able to understand the data and take action according to it.
This is the only way to integrate them into business processes and create value.
The built environment is responsible for almost 40% of the world's carbon emissions. Measuring and better controlling energy consumption within its property portfolio is vital. However, these issues cannot be tackled without taking into account individual comfort, such as the temperature in offices. The challenge then is to find the right balance between reducing environmental impact and keeping the individual at the nexus.
In the post-Covid world, repositioning the FM will be crucial. It will be up to the Office Management Department, in collaboration with HR, IT and other departments, to align the working environment with the company's culture and objectives. These are also strategic responsibilities that will revolve around maintaining healthy and safe workplaces, increasing organisational flexibility and boosting productivity. All of these aspects are essential to pave the way forward in reinventing the profession and looking at the new opportunities that will emerge in the future.