Oct 22, 2021
By Kate Camerlin

The Top 5 Trends in Facilities Management

Facilities managers are increasingly becoming strategic partners and taking on leading roles when it comes to setting the direction for corporate workplace planning.

Factors driving this change include shifts in expectations for what a workplace can deliver to its employees, advancements in workplace and facilities management technology, and changes in health and wellness-based requirements propelled (in part) by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to one CBRE report, facilities management is transforming from a building and equipment-focused activity to one that focuses on users and results.

So, how do facilities managers keep their fingers on the pulse of this rapidly changing industry? And how can they prepare for new challenges while also helping shape the strategy of their organizations’ workplace planning?

To navigate it all, facilities teams are increasingly adopting software solutions. In fact, in one Verdantix study, about 40% of organizations surveyed either plan to replace existing software, invest in new software, or extend the deployment of their facility management software in the near term.

The following article walks through some key trends that facilities managers should keep an eye on, and it focuses on the technologies and other factors driving these trends forward.

Trend 1: Revisiting Real Estate Portfolios

With the workplace changes brought about by COVID-19, many organizations are taking another look at their office and corporate real estate portfolios. This includes both rethinking costs and also incorporating hybrid working models into their plans. According to Verdantix, about 55% of businesses surveyed say they’re planning on (or in the process of evaluating) right-sizing their real estate portfolios given the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.

Plus, with the sudden increase in remote workers throughout 2020 and 2021, businesses are looking at permanently incorporating flexible working scenarios into their long-term plans. The same Verdantix study shows about 48% of organizations say they’re planning on evaluating the use of flexible office space. And in fact, about 58% of organizations say increasing agile and hybrid working is a high priority for them.

Because of this, space and room reservation technology is becoming increasingly important, as it helps facilities teams manage hybrid working scenarios in which employees can either work remotely or in the office.

Space reservation software solutions provide employees with a cloud-based interface—often with interactive maps—where they can view and reserve a space right from their desktops or mobile devices. This means they can book the desks, rooms, and equipment they might need ahead of time, so they’re able to work more efficiently when they’re in the office. Facilities teams have clearer insights into which rooms are being used, and whether a space needs to be prepared or cleaned.

In addition, as occupancy fluctuates, the facilities department can use technology to track building usage and gain insights into how frequently rooms and spaces are being utilized. This data is important for several reasons: If facilities teams know which rooms are being used, they can schedule more (or fewer) cleaning or maintenance tasks. Plus, having instant access to this usage data means that they can report out to stakeholders in order to help inform the organization’s building and real estate strategy.

Trend 2: Asset and Vendor Management Software

As Verdantix noted in the study cited above, companies are expanding their use of tech to have better insights and more control over operational costs. This includes investing in asset management software. 43% of respondents said they’re planning on either replacing existing software, investing in new applications, or extending the deployment of their asset and maintenance management software in the near term.

Asset Management

Instead of tracking all assets in separately maintained spreadsheets, facilities teams get a much more comprehensive view into the lifecycle of their equipment when they use a single asset management platform like an IWMS or CMMS. With these kinds of solutions, all equipment information, work history, contract information, training documentation, and more is stored in one place.

With cloud-based asset management platforms, facilities teams can seamlessly perform tasks such as:

  • Accessing their entire inventory in one place
  • Scheduling and auto-assigning preventative maintenance
  • Submitting work requests in a single, easy-to-use portal
  • Completing pre-defined checklists specific to individual assets or pieces of equipment

When everything is in one platform, facilities managers have the historical data to better set up preventive maintenance schedules—and even track ongoing preventive maintenance contracts.

Many cloud-based asset management solutions also enable facilities teams to auto-route work orders to the technician who has the correct certifications to complete the maintenance or repair task.

For example, air quality monitoring and HVAC upkeep is vital to maintaining a healthy building—especially in a post COVID-19 world. If any part of the HVAC system breaks down, the right IWMS or CMMS solution can automatically assign a corrective work order to the right technician so it is fixed quickly. Plus, some IWMS solutions even connect to smart devices that monitor air quality, and they can automatically send alerts if it falls below a certain threshold.

Vendor Management

In addition, organizations are increasingly investing in vendor management software to help manage vendor relationships, workflows, and contracts. When vendors can work from the same software system that in-house teams use, it becomes much easier to track performance. Additionally, when vendors have access to critical information and workflows, it is much easier for them to complete work quickly and efficiently.

Cloud-based vendor management solutions enable facilities teams to integrate with other business processes, and they provide full visibility into contracts and performance. This provides a clearer picture into vendor data alongside other key operational data, so teams can make more informed data-driven decisions.

Trend 3: Mobile Applications

As employees become more likely to work remotely, the use of mobile applications is increasing.

As mentioned previously, mobile-friendly software solutions that enable employees to reserve workspaces right from their devices or tablets are gaining popularity. And features like mobile wayfinding (where employees can locate equipment, locations, and people in real-time directly from their phones) are becoming essential.

Additionally, mobile-friendly IWMS or CMMS systems allow facilities teams to schedule maintenance and update inventory information directly from the field. This means the system can be updated in real-time, so the data is more accurate.

With a mobile IWMS and work order system, employees can submit requests — and technicians can see those work requests — directly from their devices. Technicians have access to critical device information right at their fingertips and can complete their work from nearly anywhere.

Trend 4: Sustainability Initiatives

Firms are putting increasing importance on robust initiatives to track, visualize, and understand their carbon footprint and energy usage. According to one national survey by Honeywell and The Business Journals, 93% of respondents saw sustainability as being a lasting priority for their organization, and 87% viewed it as an investment rather than an expense.

Software solutions that enable facilities managers to track heating, cooling, and waste management costs are vital to these initiatives.

Many of these technology platforms enable teams to connect to smart meters in order to ID anomalies. Teams can also set thresholds for alerts, look at spikes in usage, and visualize energy expenses quickly.

Plus, if building usage data is tracked within the same platform, teams can more accurately forecast lighting and heating costs—making it much easier to build reports and identify energy saving measures.

Trend 5: OT Cyber Security

The last facilities management trend focuses on securing network-connected operational technology (OT) devices — such as HVAC systems, energy pipelines, and medical devices. Hackers are increasingly targeting this vulnerable equipment, causing significant disruptions to businesses and consumers.

Unfortunately, organizations often have hundreds or thousands of OT devices, making it difficult to monitor and track it all. However, the right IWMS or CMMS software platforms can help: When facilities teams track all their devices, assets, and equipment in one centralized solution, it becomes much simpler to monitor and identify vulnerable equipment, especially when paired with device discovery tools. And when additional context for each device (such as network information, work history, and more) is stored in the same place, it becomes easier to work with IT to make decisions and remediate issues as they arise. These security orchestration and automated response (SOAR) technologies help organizations identify and respond to events quickly.

Digital Transformation, Facilities Management, and Nuvolo Connected Workplace

Nuvolo Connected Workplace supports your facilities team’s digital transformation. It is a cloud-based solution that enables you to track all of your facilities, building, and asset data—and it goes far beyond that by offering solutions for dispatching, sustainability, capital projects, space, and much more.

Connected Workplace can help facilities managers meet the new challenges and opportunities that arise from each of the emerging trends in this rapidly changing industry.

Interested in learning more? Explore how companies like Chevron and Vertex modernized their facilities maintenance and asset management processes. Plus, see how Nuvolo can help you ditch your spreadsheets, get a holistic view of your assets and spaces, and ensure the security of your OT devices.