Facilities management is one area that is constantly on the move. The sector is currently evolving at a greater pace than ever before, with the worldwide facility management market expected to grow from £750 billion in 2012, to £1.1 trillion in 2018. But what is it that’s driving this growth and how will this manifest in 2017?
Managing changing environments
One trend we’ve seen emerging over the last couple of years is the rise in open office spaces. As cutting edge companies compete to attract the most talented millennial employees, innovative workplace designs are increasingly being used to differentiate between prospective employers.
As well as attracting top candidates, open office spaces also encourage collaboration and build a sense of community. This includes everything from open-seated areas to quiet spaces, communal break rooms and desks that allow workers to sit and stand.
Facilities managers are increasingly being asked to manage and maintain these new spaces as more and more buildings are updated to drive retention efforts, increase sustainability and improve workplace practices. Such spaces, with their unique functionality, will undoubtedly create new challenges for facilities managers in 2017.
Keeping up with new technology
It is essential that today’s facilities managers are able to keep up with the rapid rate of new technology. One of the biggest changes in 2017 will be the increased reliance on internet- and cloud-connected devices. This has already led to a number of mobile apps that allow facilities managers to see what’s going on with a wide range of different building systems while they’re on the move. They then take actions to resolve problems and change settings with the touch of a button.
The increased connectivity is also giving facilities managers the ability to collect and analyse huge amounts of data in seconds. This data can then be used to show where improvements can be made, and to predict the levels of energy consumption in particular parts of the facility.
And that’s technology which is already available. The new tech tools we expect to see in 2017 include:
- Drones – To provide a safer way of monitoring and making repairs to building exteriors;
- Virtual reality – Allowing facilities managers to create simulations of environments to explore maintenance and design issues;
- Li-Fi – High-speed wireless internet that is available through LED lighting. Speeds can reach up to 224 gigabytes per second;
- Machine learning – Allowing computer systems to do more with less input from facilities managers.
The continuing growth of responsibilities
For better or worse, the list of a typical facilities manager’s responsibilities has grown beyond all recognition in recent years. There’s now a lot more to the role than simply managing and maintaining a building. And, these responsibilities look set to grow further in 2017.
Facilities managers now commonly get involved in everything from data reporting, construction planning and energy management, to managing vendor relationships, flooring maintenance and even cybersecurity. As facilities managers take on more and more responsibility, we expect to their list of responsibilities grow to include everything from buying decisions and increasing workforce efficiency, to working collaboratively and creating smarter working environments in 2017.
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