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Blog #35 Emerging Facilities Management Trends from 2021/2: Did they Trend or Did they Flop!

As the world of work evolves, so does the role of Facilities Management.

Around 2021/22, several trends and emerging topics were predicted to influence the Facilities Management (FM) industry.

In this Blog, the first in a series of ‘Did they Trend or Did they Flop’ we will explore 5 of these trends and understand if they ended up having any effect, if they did we’ll look at who they worked for and how.

5 Emerging Trends

Workplace health and safety:

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increased focus on creating healthier, safer, and more hygienic work environments.

FMs needed to implement new cleaning protocols, ensure adequate air circulation and filtration, and maintain social distancing measures.

Flexible office spaces and hybrid working models also became more prevalent, as organisations sought to accommodate remote work while maintaining employee safety.

Adoption of technology and automation:

The integration of IoT and smart technologies was already on the rise.

The use of technology in FM was expected to continue growing, with the adoption of automation, AI, and machine learning to optimise building operations and maintenance.

These technologies were also seen as a way to enhance the occupant experience, provide real-time data and insights, and reduce energy consumption.

Resilience and business continuity planning:

The pandemic brought about a renewed emphasis on the importance of resilience and business continuity planning.

FMs were tasked with ensuring that their buildings could withstand and quickly recover from unforeseen disruptions, such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, and public health crises.

This included reviewing and updating emergency response plans, conducting risk assessments, and investing in backup systems and infrastructure.

Employee experience and well-being:

The focus on employee well-being and overall workplace experience became even more critical during this period.

FMs were expected to create spaces that promote collaboration, engagement, and productivity while also addressing the needs of remote and hybrid workers.

This involved reimagining office layouts, incorporating biophilic (close working) design elements, and integrating wellness features, such as meditation rooms and fitness facilities.

Cost optimisation and financial management:

As organisations faced economic uncertainty and tighter budgets, FMs were under pressure to optimise costs while maintaining high service levels.

This led to a greater focus on efficient space utilisation, energy management, and strategic outsourcing of services to achieve cost savings without sacrificing quality.

Did they Trend or Did they flop?

What was the outcome?

There have been several examples of organisations that have successfully employed these so-called trends in their FM strategies.

Here are a few notable cases:

Workplace health and safety:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies like Google and Microsoft implemented various measures to ensure employee safety.

These included enhanced cleaning protocols, reconfigured office spaces to maintain social distancing, touchless technology, and upgraded HVAC systems to improve air quality.

Many organisations also adopted very similar strategies and flexible working models, allowing employees to work remotely or in a hybrid fashion.

Adoption of technology and automation:

The Edge, an office building in Amsterdam, is widely recognised as one of the smartest buildings globally.

Completed in 2014, it uses IoT sensors and smart technologies to monitor and optimise energy consumption, temperature, lighting, and space utilisation.

The building’s app allows occupants to customise their individual workspace settings and find available meeting rooms or desks.

A quick search showed the Edge building scored an impressive 98.36% BREEAM sustainability score!

While not an example from 2021/22, it will have undoubtedly influenced the approach of FM in the adoption of technology, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Resilience and business continuity planning:

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the New York University Langone Medical Center undertook a comprehensive resilience planning initiative.

The center invested $1.13 billion in upgrading its facilities, including constructing flood barriers, relocating critical infrastructure to higher floors, and installing backup power systems to ensure uninterrupted operation during future extreme weather events.

So far as we could tell this work was still ongoing during 2021/22.

It is a fine example of how seriously resilience and continuity planning is being taken by this organisation.

Employee experience and well-being:

Deloitte’s office in Amsterdam, called “The Garage,” is designed to prioritise employee well-being and collaboration.

The space includes a variety of workspaces, from open-plan areas to quiet rooms, and features biophilic design elements, such as green walls and natural light.

Employees have access to wellness facilities, including a gym, yoga room, and meditation pods.

Opened circa 2018 (we couldn’t track the exact date), they were slightly ahead of the curve and, without doubt, fully embraced employee experience and wellbeing.

Inevitably it would have had an influencing effect on organisations causing a trend through 2021/22.

That being said, the COVID-19 pandemic has possibly had a negative effect on this being a lasting legacy due to the emergence of the WFH culture and the subsequent side effect of a distributed workforce.

Cost optimisation and financial management:

Many organisations have turned to Integrated Facilities Management (IFM) providers, which offer a single, consolidated solution for all FM services.

This approach allows organisations to achieve cost savings through streamlined processes and economies of scale.

For example, global pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca partnered with an IFM provider to manage its facilities across 60 countries, resulting in significant cost savings and improved service quality.

What can we take away?

In this blog, we explored 5 of the most influential trends impacting the Facilities Management (FM) industry, including the integration of IoT and smart technologies, a growing focus on sustainability and energy management, and the increasing importance of digital transformation and data-driven decision-making.

By delving into real-world examples from industry leaders like Google, Microsoft, Deloitte, and more, we’ve showcased how these trends have been effectively employed to create safer, more efficient, and more comfortable work environments.

As the FM landscape continues to evolve, staying ahead of these trends is essential for organisations seeking to thrive in an ever-changing world.

Embrace the power of technology, prioritize sustainability, and invest in employee well-being to create a future-proof facility that meets the needs of both your business and its people.

So, the burning question is, Did they Trend or Did they Flop? I think we can safely say, in this Blog, Trend.

If you enjoyed this short Blog and you have any suggestions for future Trend or Flop Blogs, feel free to drop us a comment below.

Click here to read more FM-related blogs from the AGS team.

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