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THE 2020S: WHAT A DIFFERENCE THE NEXT 3,653 DAYS WILL MAKE…

© iStock
© iStock

03 February 2020 Herpreet Kaur Grewal


This month we find out what the most pressing issues in FM will be. 


Predictions for the near future are always prone to ridicule in retrospect, but there’s cause to think that the workplace and facilities management sector enters the 2020s in a  significant state of flux. 


Artificial intelligence and smart building sensors cheaper than Smarties indicate a seismic, transformative 
decade ahead in terms of tech. But as our correspondents document here, issues of space use and wellbeing, albeit likely to mutate, will surely set the tone of the changes we’ll witness in the years to 2030.


Some predict a focus on greater flexible working, paid time off and companies having to rethink how they attract talent as businesses offer more wellness perks to employees. Just how well the mooted four-day week will seem from our 2029 lens is open to endless conjecture.


We asked you what you thought would be the most pressing issues for the facilities management profession in this decade. Here are the highlights.



Mike Boxall

Coming round to the circular economy

Organisations will remain under pressure to be as environmentally friendly as possible, whether that’s though reduction in plastic, adoption of chemical-free cleaning or improved recycling processes.


Benchmarking will allow an organisation to determine a reasonable expectation for recycling and waste management costs for their market and region. We’ll also increasingly see waste material converted into revenue streams.


The ultimate goal in truly efficient total waste management is creating a circular economy.


Mike Boxall
is the managing director of Sitemark



Andrew Mawson

The C-suite is finally going to ‘get’ FM

We’ve reached a place where FM isn’t alone in viewing the workplace as a tool to attract and retain talent, break silos and raise performance – the C-suite is buying into its potential too.


Creating a work environment that’s socially cohesive is tough enough when everyone is in the office, but now that they are in different locations and/or time zones there are new challenges that new tech and tools will help us overcome.


Ten years ago, a small business couldn’t operate outside the UK. Now, small businesses can enter new markets without jumping on a plane. 

Andrew Mawson is MD of Advanced Workplace Associates



Alistair Craig

A technological and demographic shift

First, we’ll see even more agile and mobile working patterns that will have a huge impact on the fluctuating usage of premises. Office and real estate managers will need to facilitate more agile working in order to increase office efficiency, for example by pre-determining which days different organisations will be using a shared office.


Second, we are likely to see an increase in ‘bring your own’ technology. I wouldn’t be surprised if phones and laptops morphed into a single tablet-style device. Real estate managers will need to ensure the infrastructure is in place, and there’ll be a greater demand for FM professionals to upskill to handle IT systems. 


Third, there will be a generational shift but also a loss of jobs to artificial intelligence. There will also be a shift in what skills are desired; creativity, coding, communication and skills that cannot be automated will take precedence.


Alistair Craig is managing director of Anabas



Kurt Mroncz

An increasingly flexible future

Organisations opting for flexible office space over conventional leases is a trend set to continue. This includes a growing number of corporates that are a staple client of FM service firms. More flex space will mean fewer leased buildings in need of FM services, but service providers should see this as an opportunity; flex space providers are becoming a prominent target market. 


Outsourced services will still need to be provided to a wide range of tenants, from large corporates occupying an entire floor to clusters of SMEs, start-ups and freelances. It will also include co-working and communal, or a mix of all the above.


Savvy FM organisations will have already identified flex space providers as a target market and begun making moves into the space. Those that haven’t will need to do so quickly or risk missing out on a valuable market.


Kurt Mroncz is the founder and MD of Offices iQ



Paul Skelton

All set to show our sexier side

The business world has woken up to the fact that the physical environment affects people’s mood, energy and performance. With this epiphany, FM has a real chance to deliver even more value.


When designing and managing work environments that support the overall employee experience, savvy workplace managers will apply lessons from the academic realms of psychology and anthropology to ensure the spaces on offer tick the boxes of everyone, regardless of generation, personality or specialism. This sexier side of the role will hopefully help lure in the next generation of future FMs, a gap that desperately needs to be filled.


There has been a proliferation of technology that has given rise to an increasing number of mobile and remote workers. It is our hope that FM invests in the right tech, in the digital infrastructures that we have become used to in our homes but not necessarily in our work lives. 


Paul Skelton is sales director at Active Workplace Solutions



Steve McGregor

Enter New types of FM service firms…

Technology will give rise to increasing use of smaller, agile, responsive and more competitive service providers. This will give the super-large providers a much-needed kick up the backside. 


FM has seen its fair share of the limelight this decade, but not for the right reasons. We believe this will change over the next 10 years; firms will have much more direct contact with end users, with more focus on fruitful partnerships and teamwork instead of the ‘us and them’ dynamic that can turn sour. FM will have to reduce costs while adding value and only technology can reconcile that dilemma.


CAFM will become free because it will be so embedded into supplier operations and process, complete with customer/provider/supply chain integration. We’ll see more ‘uberisation’ of delivery, with greater use of AI in predictive maintenance, administration and energy use.

Steve McGregor is group managing director at DMA Group