Facilities managers face “complex challenges in catering for employees and remaining compliant”, according to research by software firm Idox.
Facing these complex challenges while remaining compliant were the two responsibilities respondents see as most important (75 per cent) states the survey.
The survey canvasses workers in "a wide array of industries, with organisations operating across the globe and employing between 1 to 5000+ individuals". It was conducted between March and April 2021.
Before the pandemic, the FM sector was under pressure to perform at higher service levels with fewer resources. This has intensified, with 62 per cent citing budget constraints as their biggest concern. This is followed by changing working patterns and a reduced demand for space.
These unknowns are having an impact on global commercial property investment, which fell by 48 per cent in the third quarter of 2020. Yet, managing property portfolios remains a substantial part of FM professionals’ roles. One-fifth manage up to 20 thousand square feet of space, 23 per cent manage between 100 – 500 thousand and 8 per cent manage more than five million.
The concerns about working habits are also influencing FM professionals’ expectation of future investment priorities, with ‘supporting flexible working’ (64 per cent) ranking highest. ‘Aiding sustainability efforts’ (61 per cent) and ‘asset tracking and management’ (46 per cent) follow.
The findings indicate that it is “clear that FM is shifting away from traditional asset management to supporting the health and wellbeing of employees”.
Of those asked, 75 per cent felt that “increasing employee satisfaction and wellbeing” is one of their most helpful roles in delivering their organisation’s strategic goals; ranking top alongside ‘controlling compliance risks’ (75 per cent).
Looking deeper into sustainability, FM has a critical role in helping organisations to achieve environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives. ‘Improving the energy efficiency of buildings’ (70 per cent), ‘reducing waste and increasing recycling’ (70 per cent) and ‘supporting social value strategies’ (56 per cent) are considered among the most strategically important responsibilities of facilities managers today, according to the findings.
When it comes to technology the survey found that CAFM technology “streamlines processes and drives value across organisations”.
FM professionals are aware of this, ranking ‘driving efficiency’ (68 per cent), ‘digital innovation’ (43 per cent), ‘ensuring safety’ (40 per cent) and ‘saving money’ (39 per cent) as the top four factors to consider when looking to invest in relevant tools. Aiding flexibility and response times are also seen as vital, so ‘mobile working’ (68 per cent) and ‘cloud-based solutions’ (60 per cent) are viewed as technology priorities.
Almost 80 per cent agree that security is the top priority, tying in with the aforementioned ‘controlling compliance risks’ responsibility. With regulations threatening heavy fines, there is pressure on FM teams to deliver and this could be a reason why 62 per cent still rely on manual spreadsheets in some capacity. They’re tried, tested and familiar, but they don’t scale easily and require lots of manual admin, factors that can eventually lead to non-compliance. The findings state that "only just over half (53 per cent) use any form of CAFM software”.
Even with the lack of CAFM specific technology in use, there is an understanding of how the Internet of Things (IoT) can help facilities managers to better control operations through the use of connected devices. Around half feel that any CAFM technology should be IoT-compatible.
But only 4 per cent feel that machines and automation will have an impact on their roles in the next 12 months. That’s despite automation “having enormous potential for improving facilities maintenance and supporting productivity, helping to drive efficiency, innovation and safety – the three priorities considered when thinking about CAFM technology investment”.
Oliver Spires, product manager at Idox said: “The pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty and as we continue to work out what the future landscape looks like, it’s often the FM team that are asked to help plan while continuing to support employees and the business’ commercial and ESG objectives. Shouldering such responsibility means they should be equipped with the right technology, yet two thirds are still reliant on spreadsheets and manual processes. It’s time to upgrade."
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