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FM businesses look towards growth as survey reveals confidence is back within the sector

The 2021 FM Business Confidence Index produced by online news and information source i-FM in association with Barclays, has revealed that confidence levels across the facilities management market sector are pushing back towards the highs recorded early last year before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the first months of this year the sector is reporting optimistic views on multiple key indicators. Over three-quarters (78 per cent) of survey respondents rate the current facilities management business environment as at least satisfactory, with 56 per cent rating it positive or very positive. More than two-thirds (67 per cent) expect trading at their organisation to improve this year. And almost a third (31 per cent) expect headcount at their organisation to increase, with more than half (56 per cent) expecting to at least maintain current job numbers.

The FM Business Confidence Index survey is designed to test frontline market views across UK facilities management, a business sector valued at about £110 billion. The 2021 survey extends a research series first launched 10 years ago.

Unpublished FM Business Confidence Index results from Q1 2020 showed high levels of confidence in this market and broad optimism for continued growth. However, the spread of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns rapidly undermined these views.

2021’s results show a move back towards last year’s early optimism, though with the challenge and pain of the intervening 12 months clear in some survey findings, too. But with the apparent success of the vaccination programme and the steady withdrawal of restrictions, combined with some emerging new opportunities, UK FM appears to be firmly on the road to recovery.

Terry Myatt, Director, Property Services coverage at Barclays Corporate, commented: “The last 12 months have highlighted the importance of the sector to the UK, and the latest version of this index highlights some of the unique developments seen over the course of the pandemic. The next 12 months look set to continue providing both opportunities and challenges for the FM sector, and we expect its resilience and adaptability to prove key in supporting UK PLC.”

David Emanuel, MD at i-FM, said: “While it is reassuring that the sentiments recorded in this year’s FM Business Confidence Index are back firmly on the positive side, we know there is still much more change to come – in all aspects of work and the workplace, including the implementation of new technologies, and around the multiple issues involved in sustainability – and that means many more challenges and opportunities for FM. 

“Throughout this whole pandemic period the spotlight has been on the discipline as never before. And that is a good thing, as it opens the door to more effective communication of the vital role facilities management plays in the lives of people, communities and the country as a whole.”

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