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Computer Aided Facility Management (CAFM) played a major role in helping FMs deal with COVID-19 disruption. Now leading software suppliers assess how the software can support remote, hybrid and return to office strategies over the next 12 months

The entire philosophy of what the workplace is has been turned on its head over the last two years, with office employees being able to work from anywhere – home, the office, and even in another country, contends Paul Bullard, Director of Product Management, at FSI , which recently joined forces with real estate giant MRI Software. As long as the work is being done, it is no longer a necessity to hold a permanent desk space. This has given rise to offices becoming known as destinations for collaboration – where teams get together to take care of tasks they’re unable to do in isolation. This means the number of those physically in the office, and when, is open to fluctuations, peaks and troughs.

“FM operations moved to a more digital way of working due to COVID-19 disruption,” he says, “and CAFM technology has played a critical role in supporting FMs through this prolonged period of uncertainty. It’s the first time in history they’ve been responsible for the working environment inside people’s homes. Everything from ensuring employees have the right equipment and desks, to preventing health issues with correct seating.

“Thankfully, remote monitoring through CAFM is helping alleviate some of this newfound burden. Let’s take one simple task as an example. If a cleaner was assigned to check a single building’s bins twice a day, and there were 200 bins in the building, this would be a very time-consuming task and potentially unnecessary if offices aren’t at full occupancy.

“Through remote monitoring capabilities and sensor technology, teams get access to insights and notifications of when certain tasks must be performed – from knowing when soap dispensers are empty, through to knowing whether someone has entered a room and cleaning needs to take place. Facilities managers can then make informed decisions about when to take action. Cutting out needless manual intervention across multiple buildings helps cut costs and improve productivity.”

Certain features of CAFM which already proved useful in managing buildings remotely can now be applied to support hybrid and return to office strategies. Valerie Miller, Group Sales and Marketing Director at Bellrock explains that during the two years of COVID restrictions, FMs benefited commercial and operationally by managing their buildings remotely via their CAFM.

She says: “For example, they have been able to manage occupancy levels, compliance, raise emergency work orders, manage contractor site visits safely and critical operational staff still on site. They keep things simple and effective by having a single communication pathway to keep all stakeholders up to date. All these components have supported a safe place to return to work.”

Bellrock’s Concerto has seen increased requests to understand the benefits of a CAFM, from simple maintenance management to fully-fledged IOT integrated FM. The data held within CAFM such as running costs (planned, reactive, energy), back log maintenance, occupancy levels and space utilisation will help customers make strategic decisions about which properties to invest in and which should be disposed of as it is economically advantageous to do so.


Dave Bryan, Product Manager at Idox says space management will continue to be an important requirement for facilities managers. It is this which is enabling them to redesign work spaces to allow for social distancing, one-way routes and breakout areas that they may not have previously needed.

He says: “With the tools and insight provided by a CAFM system, any spare square footage can be optimised or reallocated to provide value to the business. Using the enhanced strategic oversight of facilities enabled by CAFM, facilities teams can benefit from a smart response to fluctuating energy and occupancy levels. Through the use of sensors, it is clear which rooms are in use and therefore require heating and lighting, instead of wasting resources on unused areas. With efficient use of space informed by insight into usage patterns, office spaces can be redesigned accordingly, tracking or restricting use of indoor space, adjusting the office configuration to accommodate hot desking, collaborative working and group meetings.”

For Bullard, facility booking systems have also become integral in people and space management, not only to prevent double booking or unsafe levels of occupancy, but to align cleaning schedules to desk and space use. Traditionally, cleaning had been an overnight task, but due to heightened safety requirements, cleaners are now often assigned after each use prior to the next arrival.

“This adaptability is something that has always been made possible by CAFM, but it’s now much more widely used with the changing events around the world. Having a mobile CAFM solution in place allows managers and engineers to effortlessly prioritise, allocate and complete jobs from their devices on-the-go.”

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