What does 2017 have in store for Facilities Management?

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I think it’s safe to say that 2016 was an interesting year, what with Trump, Leicester City, Pokémon Go and, Leonardo DiCaprio finally winning an Oscar. We could go on, but instead we’d rather look forward and focus on the key trends that are affecting Facilities Management in 2017 and beyond.

In this paper, we’ll be highlighting wider trends in the industry and ways technology can help you meet any new challenges and opportunities head on.

Preparing for Brexit

Regardless of whether you were in or out, the bottom line is that Brexit is definitely going to affect the FM industry, not just in 2017 but for years to come – and right now, no-one’s really sure how.

Despite promising that Article 50 will be triggered by the end of March, we’re yet to be informed exactly what Brexit will mean for EU workers in the UK. This poses an obvious problem because FM businesses employ lots of non-UK nationals – The UK cleaning industry, for example, relies heavily on migrant labour, with 24% of workers having a non-UK nationality1.

The latest data shows the number of EU workers in the UK has dropped sharply since the referendum, with 27% of businesses noticing that non-UK workers were planning on leaving the UK before Brexit comes into effect 2.

If that hints at a future skills shortage, the latest data from the government’s Office of National Statistics confirms that FM businesses are already be feeling the effects of Brexit, with low-skilled roles like cleaning and hospitality making up 45% of a record 748,000 job vacancies at the start of 20173.

The professionalisation of Facilities Management

One sure-fire way to soften the blow of the potential loss of a large portion of your EU workforce is to simply employ a greater number of British employees, but that’s easier said than done – thanks to negative attitudes of the industry amongst the public.

Improving the attractiveness of FM roles would likely require a combination of increased pay, improved employment conditions and significant changes in job role – hinting towards a more professional FM industry.

FM employers are already beginning to take note and nearly 20% said they planned on investing more money in training and upskilling, recruiting more apprentices or trying to hire more UK-born graduates5.

This transition of FM roles from job to career won’t be easy though and 15% of facility managers say that trying to professionalise the industry was the biggest challenge they faced6.

One thing that is helping to legitimise careers in the FM industry is the increasing amount of technology being used, for example: Building Information Modelling (BIM), Customer Management Systems (CMS) and technologies used creatively together with the Internet of Things, such as security drones. These things are becoming a significant draw for millennial workers, 59% of whom said that using state-of-the art technology was important to them when considering a job7.

As FM becomes more professional, providing high levels of training and employee monitoring will become more important. Utilising Work Management Systems (WMS) like Timegate will be essential in keeping track of what training employees are receiving, when their reviews are due and how they are performing against pre-defined (and contract aligned) KPIs.

We’ve talked before about how workforce retention is important for your bottom line, but the more you invest in training employees, the more important it becomes to reduce churn - so it’s no surprise that 82% of Facilities Managers rate staff retention as ‘Highly important’8.

The green agenda

One method for improving staff retention is to realign your brand values to match that of your younger, more environmentally-friendly employees. 75% of millennial employees surveyed actually said they’d take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company9, and 56% said they’d leave a job if the company didn’t align with their values10.

Being environmentally friendly and developing sustainable business practices is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, with the EU aiming to cut total greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 203011.

Happier, healthier staff

If you’re serious about making an investment in going green it also has the added benefit of making your employees happier and healthier.

After improving the ecological impact of their business, 75% of respondents reported seeing an improvement in employee health, 77% saw an increase in employee wellbeing and 87% noted a boost to employee comfort13.

Considering that healthy employees are more productive, it’s not shocking that FM professionals are now being tasked with finding more creative ways of looking after both the physical health and mental wellbeing of their building’s occupants.

Using BIM to monitor the amount of natural scenery and light offered by your facility can help you optimise your office layout, with studies showing that views including natural scenery help reduce signs of stress and levels of frustration, whilst increasing patience and overall satisfaction. The availability of natural light has been proven by Mirjam Münch to help employees sleep better, making them more rested, leading to increased productivity15.

Upgrading to automated HVAC systems can give you closer control of your employees’ environment, increasing their comfort level has been scientifically proven to make them more productive - one study actually found that raising the temperature in an office from 20 °C to 25 °C reduced typing errors by an incredible 44%16.

Good news for Facilities Managers is that pay is no longer one of your employees’ main considerations when it comes to workplace happiness. 34% of employees said they would rather be rewarded with a more flexible work schedule than a pay-rise17.

Summary

Staff sit centrally to taking advantage of these trends – keeping them happy and providing the tools and technology to do their job better is essential if you’re going to be well placed to capitalise.

The challenge is that workers are fickle creatures and what keeps one happy may not be the same for another – taking a programmatic view will give you more insight as to whether you’re delivering what each needs. And technology sits centrally to gaining this insight.

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