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Automatic control

Tom Shrive the Founder and CEO of askporter debunks the common misconceptions regarding automation and how it can help FMs take more control

Amid the harsh realities of soaring energy costs, looming recession, and skills and labour shortages, coupled with the task of maintaining the UK’s aging, energy-inefficient building stock, facilities managers are increasingly turning towards automation for a solution to the challenges they face.

A report from Hays titled: ‘What Workers Want’ shows that automation has become widespread within FM in recent years, with 71 per cent of those working in the profession declaring that such technologies are either a primary or secondary focus for their organisation. Moreover, the report highlights that attitudes towards automation are generally positive, with only seven per cent of those working in the industry having a negative view.

Considering how automation has helped to transform the industry, delivering convenience for building users, as well as significant time and cost saving benefits for FMs, it is no surprise that the introduction of such technologies has been so warmly received. Despite this, there are some common misconceptions regarding automation – both from those who welcome its adoption, and from those who oppose it.

If we are to unlock the true potential of what automation can deliver, and if more in the profession are to invest in the technology, it is vital that these misconceptions are debunked, and the real benefits are explained.


It is easy to get bogged down in complex discussions about how the technology works, rather than the end results. While they need confidence that solutions will make their job easier, more cost-effective, and efficient, many FMs rush into investing in automation without properly considering how best to implement it, instead seeing it as a ‘silver bullet’ that will fix all their problems. This is often because they do not have a clear understanding of what the technology is capable of, or the vendor selling them a solution has either overpromised or underestimated what must be done to ensure a successful integration.

It’s important to take a carefully considered approach. For example, you may have legacy IT systems already in place that the new technology must be strategically integrated alongside. It is not enough to simply install solutions and expect everything to slot seamlessly into place. Instead, much thought must be given to how the technology can be effectively implemented without disrupting existing infrastructure. Given that this can be a highly complex process in itself, consider seeking the advice of a specialist provider who can offer support and help ensure that the transition goes as smoothly as possible.

Additionally, there are certain automation solutions that may require FMs and their teams to have specific training. While this may be dismissed as an unnecessary, additional expense in time and money, it’s important for them to recognise that if automation can streamline processes and make their jobs easier, their input and engagement is needed if implementation is to be a success. Investing in training can empower them to work in new, more effective ways with automation solutions, helping them to unlock the full potential of the technology.


Where people are resistant to automation adoption, this is often due to a mistaken belief that the purpose of such technology is to ultimately replace human workers. The objective is not to relegate responsibilities of, but instead to assist in carrying out jobs as effectively as possible.

For example, tasks like allocating and managing space between buildings, creating and customising checklists to apply to work orders, or communicating with technicians, managers, dispatchers, and clients about important status or purpose changes. While these are all crucial parts of FM, they can take up a considerable amount of time, distracting from other areas where engagement has more value.

By automating low-value, high-volume tasks, FMs can concentrate on delivering the quality services that only a human professional can, while getting a clear overview of all workflows. In this way, the tech offers the ability to oversee all tasks being carried out, whether manually or automatically delivering better oversight and control over day-to-day responsibilities and long-term objectives.


However, the reality is that automation is not going to transform things overnight – implementation can be a slow, methodical process, albeit one that will be hugely rewarding in the long run.

Although many in the industry have already recognised the benefits of automation and are now reaping the rewards of their investment in it, there are still those who are reluctant to adopt. The sooner they recognise that automation is a tool to empower them within their role, the sooner they too will begin to understand the benefits that the technology can bring.

In the increasingly fast-paced, high-volume workplace landscape, the relationship between FMs and automation is most certainly symbiotic, given that one cannot hope to thrive and survive without the other. As such, its time the sector recognised the important role that technology is set to play in shaping the future of the industry, or risk falling far behind the curve.

About Sarah OBeirne

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