Research by Idox, a leading provider of CAFM software, into how COVID-19 has impacted FMs working in the UK and across the world illustrates a shift in priorities for the profession
Idox questioned FM professionals across a diverse range of industry sectors about their views, priorities and experiences. Survey responses included those working in energy, leisure, health and social care, retail, education, housing, financial services, local government and media.
While more than 90 per cent of respondents’ organisations operate in the UK, there is also representation in Western Europe (26 per cent) and North America (21 per cent), with further operations in the Middle East, Central and Eastern Europe, South America and Africa.
The sizes of organisations in the survey were equally diverse, ranging from 1-49 employees (18 per cent) to 5,000+ employees (26 per cent), while over a third (36 per cent) have between 50-999 employees. As for FM teams themselves, the survey shows around half of respondents work in teams of one-ten people, while 21 per cent have more than 51 FM colleagues.
Managing property portfolios is still a substantial part of the job, with around 23 per cent of respondents managing between 100-500 thousand sq. ft. of space, while 20 per cent manage up to 20,000 sq. ft. and a smaller number (eight per cent) manage more than five million sq. ft. of space.
BUDGETARY CONSTRAINTS AND A REDEFINED WORKPLACE
Budget constraints was the number one concern among respondents (62 per cent), with over half of respondents also concerned about changes in work patterns, and a further third about reduced demand for space. Asked to select the current trends that could have the greatest impact on FM within their organisations, most respondents chose “changes in frequency/density of office use” (25 per cent), followed by “increased use of smart and touchless technology to manage physical spaces” (22 per cent) and “improving the workplace experience and company culture” (22 per cent). Reduced budgets for offices (19 per cent) and use of technology to manage property (17 per cent) are also expected to impact FM professionals in the coming year. However, only four per cent of facilities managers selected the use of robots and automation as something likely to have the greatest impact on FM in their organisation in the next 12 months.
Asked to select which of their roles are most helpful in delivering their organisations’ strategic goals, almost 75 per cent of respondents chose “increasing employee satisfaction and wellbeing” – A growing emphasis on meeting sustainability targets is also reflected in the survey results, with respondents placing “improving the energy efficiency of buildings” (72 per cent), “reducing waste and promoting recycling” (70 per cent) and “supporting social value strategies” (56 per cent) high on their list of strategically important responsibilities.
From a selection of nine priority areas, 64 per cent of respondents chose “flexible working”, followed by “supporting sustainability” (61 per cent) and “asset tracking and management” (46 per cent). However, many are conscious of the need to prioritise workplace and relocation management (39 per cent), facilities management software (39 per cent) and real-time occupancy monitoring and building controls (37 per cent).
THE TECHNOLOGY IMPERATIVE
The majority of respondents put three issues at the top: driving efficiency (68 per cent); digital innovation (43 per cent); and ensuring safety (40 per cent). Other issues also scoring highly included saving money (39 per cent), working more collaboratively (34 per cent) and being able to adapt faster (20 per cent).
In addition, some respondents identified further matters for consideration, including improved accessibility and management, the quality, functionality and interconnectivity of FM software, connecting a dispersed workforce, and financial constraints. Mobile working and cloud computing offer facilities managers greater flexibility and response speeds, and can substantially reduce operating costs. Mobile working is regarded as either essential or a high priority by 68 per cent of respondents, while cloud-based solutions are regarded as essential or a high priority by 60 per cent.
But the most important technology issue for respondents is security, with almost 80 per cent of respondents ranking it as essential or a high priority.
Almost half of the survey respondents ranked the integration of CAFM technology with Internet of Things (IoT) assets as essential or high priorities. It’s becoming clear to FM professionals that integrating CAFM and IoT applications can help to connect all the sectors of a business, simultaneously monitor multiple operations and harness new insights from the data provided by sensors.
At the other end of the scale, FM professionals seem to regard automation as one of the least important considerations. Fewer than a third of respondents identified automation as either an essential or a high priority. This is significant, as automated facilities management has enormous potential for improving facilities maintenance and supporting productivity.
EXISTING SOFTWARE SYSTEMS
A large number (62 per cent) are still using spreadsheets to manage their facilities, although this may be alongside other systems. Spreadsheets are helpful for managing a relatively low number of tasks, but as the FM portfolio grows, the need to coordinate multiple issues require a more sophisticated solution.
The survey found that over half of respondents (53 per cent) are using CAFM software.
In addition, 30 per cent are using asset management software, while a small number of respondents have installed other systems, such as building information management (BIM) systems, in-house platforms, space booking systems, and Microsoft SharePoint.
Maintenance management (81 per cent), planned preventative maintenance (73 per cent) and reporting (60 per cent) are the most commonly used CAFM applications, with work planning and mobile workforce management solutions also supporting FM operations.
The results suggest existing CAFM software has risen to the challenges of the past year, as 55 per cent of respondents haven’t changed the way they use this software in the past 12 months, and over 60 per cent have some level of confidence that their current FM software will meet present and future organisational needs.
Visit www.idoxgroup.com/facilities-management-technology-survey/ to read the full whitepaper.