Article

Facilities management goes digital

Global / Facility management

New technologies and disruptions are affecting the way many companies conduct their business. A 2015 global survey by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte revealed that almost 90 percent of respondents anticipate digital trends to disrupt their industries to a great or moderate extent.

With these changes shaking up the way companies use their real estate, developing new strategies and capabilities is paramount to facilities management (FM) teams. Yet many remain poorly equipped and unprepared for the changing workplace and the challenges that come with it. For instance, one feedback we often hear from FM managers is that they lack the experience and expertise to use data analytics in making better decisions or aligning FM priorities with the broader business goals.

Making the shift to “digital FM” means automating FM business processes. Read on as we share four key areas where you can digitalize FM to suit new office demands.

1. End-to-end digital services

Almost every FM function can be done more efficiently through technology. From using sensors to detect burned-out light bulbs to automating workflows by using an online platform that informs vendors to perform repairs, technology speeds up processes while enabling greater transparency as everyone involved is able to see which stage a request is at.

Operations can be further optimized using building usage and performance data to obtain information such as when and how many employees are in the office. Doing so not only allows you to capture data that was previously untracked in paper-based systems, it also generates more data that can be analyzed to meet your company’s priorities. For example, office space can be reduced to save cost while new revenue streams can be created by renting out unneeded space for short term leases.

2. Workplace productivity and retention

Having the right talent is one of the greatest assets a company can possess. With some 4 million baby boomers reaching retirement age every year in the United States alone, it is imperative to reach out and appeal to millennials to take their place. An attractive workplace with flexibility and perks is essential to this new generation, and FM is the business function to fulfill this strategic advantage.

Facilities managers can advise C-suites on the right facilities needed to create new levels of space personalization and efficiency through tools such as an app or cloud-based facilities which allow your employees to work and collaborate with co-workers remotely.

3. Energy and sustainability

With smart building technology systems becoming increasingly sophisticated these days, facilities managers can take energy efficiency and sustainability to new levels. For example, highly advanced energy management systems can detect complex usage patterns and adapt energy usage precisely for specific occupants. The rise of apps has also created on-demand temperature and lighting apps that office workers can download on their mobile devices to control temperature and lighting in an individual office or zone, rather than an entire floor. This creates a win-win situation where your organization gets to enjoy energy savings while giving employees a sense of control over their environment.

4. Compliance

A key aspect of FM is compliance, which involves ensuring that everything in and around the building and offices adheres to government regulations and relevant security standards. What used to be a paper-based, long-drawn, costly and labor-intensive process can be made more accurate, simpler and more efficient with technology.

Before digitalization, a facilities manager would have to personally close a work order once an inspection was complete. Now, accurate verification can be confirmed with a few taps and clicks on a mobile device or a computer. Besides complying with government regulations, compliance extends internally such as staying with the company’s budgets. Through digital systems, facilities managers can oversee vendor relationships across different properties at the same time to remain within budget while real-time data collections allow FM teams to track actual expenses against budgeted or projected ones.

Crossing the digital hurdle

It’s clear that going digital for FM has many advantages. However, we recognize that many of us face practical and technical obstacles in adopting it. Business leaders might also be reluctant to invest and jump in without understanding the full picture. Moreover, digital FM is not a one-size-fits-all solution as each company would have different needs, resources and approaches.

How can you begin on your digital journey? A good first step would be to discuss the process, costs and benefits of investing in digitalization, and how it can contribute to your company’s goals and bottom lines. You can also partner with a service provider which possesses the tools, technologies and experience that you can leverage on. Having employees who are technologically savvy and able to think strategically to lead the way will also be a huge advantage.

These steps require a dramatic shift in the way the FM is traditionally viewed, but doing so will enable your organization to be more agile and flexible—putting it in good stead in today’s fast-paced digital world.

Interested to find out more about Future of Work? Learn more about our outlook on the changing world of work here.

Take the next step towards digitalizing FM. Read this report.