Most (58 per cent) workplace and facilities management professionals believe the market will improve in the next 12 months, despite ongoing concerns over the impacts of Brexit and Covid-19, says a report by the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM).
The IWFM Market Outlook 2021 report details the findings of two surveys carried out in February 2020 and 2021 respectively, which were interwoven to create a comparison between sentiments both before and during the global pandemic.
Together, the surveys amassed almost 650 responses from workplace and facilities managers, providing compelling insight into the market’s experiences of the past year; how its state has altered since pre-Covid-19; and the profession’s expectations for the future.
Elsewhere in the report, the changing face of work from office-based to more flexible models is illustrated by two key facts: 84 per cent of client-side respondents reported that their organisation had changed its flexible working strategy in the past year, while 58 per cent stated their organisations were reducing the space they occupied. The latter statistic caused some to worry that widespread changes in working practices may have a negative impact on the market in the longer term.
As with the broader UK and global economy, the events of the past 12 months have clearly had a significant negative impact on the overall health of the FM market, but it’s also given rise to winners and losers: some parts of the market have suffered badly because of the economic disruption of Covid-19, but others have benefited from an increase in demand for their services, such as cleaning and security.
Peter Brogan, IWFM head of research and insight, said: “From Brexit to Covid-19 to Black Lives Matter, 2020 was nothing if not turbulent and this is reflected in this year’s report. However, despite the challenges – or perhaps because of them – most workplace and facilities managers agree that the outlook is optimistic. This may be owed in part to how we have seen a spotlight shone on our profession as it helped to keep the nation clean, safe and productive throughout the turbulence. This will have no doubt improved our profession’s standing and enhanced its influence within organisations.
“There are legitimate concerns in the market over organisations cutting down their occupied spaces and what this may mean for the demand for services, but we would argue that the opportunities to lead and enable new ways of working far outweigh the negatives. We look forward to helping our profession to capitalise on those opportunities and extend its powerful influence as established agents of change.”
The report also identifies the growing influence of technology, greater awareness of diversity and inclusion within organisations, and the market’s readiness and appetite for tackling climate change.
The full report can be downloaded here.
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