What is the Future of Facility Management?

By Dave Clifton

Content Strategy Specialist


At a time when a significant portion of the workforce is doing their job from the comfort of home, there are questions surrounding the future of facility management. Do companies need a facility manager anymore? Will facilities management get more or less complicated as time goes on? What facilities management trends are prevalent now and how will they shape the future? Like all things through the lens of COVID-19, there’s much uncertainty about the changing workplace and its demands.

Aside from educated guesswork and speculation, it’s difficult to nail down exactly what the future holds for facilities management. After all, few could’ve predicted the predicament of a pandemic-induced work-from-home exodus. The best way to glean insights about the future of facility management is to look at the demands of businesses today and how they’re shaping tomorrow.

Here’s what the landscape looks like today and how these trends might influence the future of facilities management post COVID-19.

Flex work and distributed teams as the new norm

The obvious catalyst for a change in facility management is the shift to remote work. Companies across the spectrum now have distributed teams—some 100% remote, others mixed between remote and in-house, and still more juggling offset schedules. Whether they’re in the workplace or not, it needs to support all these workers.

The future is digital for facilities managers. In-house, a growing Internet of Things (IoT) will help them manage hot desks, flex spaces, and other elements of an agile office. This, in turn, will accommodate increasingly unpredictable schedules among the groups mentioned above. Outside the physical workplace, the digital one will quickly fall under the administration of facilities managers. Expect future duties of FMs to butt up against HR and IT services as companies welcome new remote employees to a digital workplace.

Growing reliance on workplace data

As workplaces become more agile, so must governance. By now, we all know that the best decision-making tools available to us come in the form of digital technologies. Specifically, facility management software.

From hot desk management to deep dives into space utilization metrics that shape commercial real estate (CRE) decisions, facilities management will become synonymous with data interpretation. Don’t worry, facility managers won’t need a degree in data engineering. They’ll be able to rely on machine learning and AI to help them collect, analyze, interpret, and use vital workplace data.

There’s a caveat to this. Companies need to make the appropriate investments in technology and data collection infrastructure now if they want to embrace the future of facilities management with confident decision-making power.

Less is more, especially amidst CRE uncertainties

Pre-pandemic, the commercial real estate market was an expensive one. Prices plunged in April and May 2020 before climbing briefly, then dropping again. Many prominent economists and real estate professionals believe another big drop is on the way, pending economic uncertainties. It’s this yo-yo effect that has many businesses rethinking their physical workplace strategy.

Do you need to rent the entire building? Can you operate from two locations instead of five? Is the overhead on your balance sheet worth the prospect of diminishing real estate returns? These questions and more are driving a more conservative mindset when it comes to CRE decision-making. As a result, future workplaces are likely to be smaller, more agile, and strategically located.

For many companies, real estate is their biggest source of overhead (behind employee salaries). A chance to reduce these costs via flex work and smaller physical workplaces is a great opportunity. Facilities managers will shoulder the burden of how to make it work and turn less space into more ROI.

Integrated facilities management

Speaking of doing more with less, integrated facilities management is one trend likely to define the future. Facilities managers will need to find synergies in how they manage support systems and teams, and coordinate the broad care and maintenance of the workplace. FMs should expect to consolidate costs, broaden the scope of service, and streamline vendor oversight through integrated facilities management. For many companies, it’ll be a matter of cultivating inclusive partnerships with trusted service providers and negotiating long standing SLAs.

Emphasis on cleanliness and sanitation

The pandemic will eventually end, whether through a drop in transmission rates or the development of a vaccine. What won’t go away are the engrained hygiene standards the majority of people now adhere to in a public forum. For some, masks will remain an accessory. For others, social distancing will remain a habit. For facilities managers, there will be an expectation to maintain COVID-19-era cleanliness and sanitization standards.

Today’s trends are tomorrow’s norms

The future of facilities management will be shades of what we know today, influenced by factors we might not be thinking about yet. What is certain are the catalysts driving change: COVID-19 and hygiene, CRE costs, the IoT, machine learning, new work habits, and countless other disruptors.

As facilities managers scramble to meet the rapidly evolving demands of today’s workplaces and employee needs, they’re shaping a foundation for the future. When the dust settles after COVID-19, facilities managers who embraced flexibility and developed sound processes will be the ones who shape the next iteration of the workplace.

Keep Reading: How to Select the Best Facility Management Software?


Remote Working Stats During The Great Work From Home Experiment

By Katherine Schwartz
Demand Generation Specialist

There’s no shortage of questions hanging in the balance of the pandemic, especially when it comes to work. Right now, a significant number of people wake up each morning and shuffle to their dining room table, flip open their laptops, and start their workday. There are mixed emotions.

The good news is, we’re deep enough into the Great Remote Work Experiment that data is slowly but surely coming online—data that not only qualifies how people feel about telecommuting, but remote working stats that answer questions people have been asking for months. Here are some key remote work statistics, in the context of some of the most important questions employees and employers are asking.

What are remote team leaders worried about?

There’s much uncertainty about the mass shift to remote work. For companies with little-to-no experience with it, trepidation runs high. Even those with experience managing remote teams or a distributed workforce report feeling challenged by the sudden office exodus.

What’s keeping managers up at night? Here’s a look at the top five concerns of remote team leaders, as reported by the World Economic Forum:1

  • 82% reduced employee focus
  • 75% reduced team cohesiveness
  • 82% reduced employee productivity
  • 70% maintaining company culture
  • 67% employees overworking

There’s a healthy (or rather, unhealthy) mix of stressors on the list, centered primarily around uncertainties about how to manage multiple remote employees as individuals and as a cohesive team. But there’s good news. Because we’re all in this together, there are new strategies, tips, tricks, and advice coming to fruition daily as everyone works to figure out telecommuting on a global scale, in real time.

Are remote employees still productive?

Perhaps too productive! There’s real fear that, not only are employees working longer hours, they’re starting to work non-traditional hours in addition to a traditional schedule. For example, Microsoft reports that Teams activity has increased more than 200% on Saturday and Sunday, indicating weekend work.2

Employees may be racking up as much as 28 hours of monthly overtime that’s likely going unpaid or unaccounted for on timesheets, according to one study. The reason? 86% of employees feel the need to prove they’re working hard and that they’re a valuable part of the team. 3

What’s the result of all this extra work? 37% of companies report seeing increased employee productivity after transitioning to remote.4 People are getting more done, but at the expense of work-life balance. It’s a trend that can’t continue if remote work does.

How is remote work technology faring?

Technology is the make-or-break driver behind remote work pre-COVID and today. The question is, do companies have the bandwidth, resources, and digital infrastructure to support a massive remote workforce?

Employers and employees don’t quite see eye-to-eye. While 52% of employees say their employer needs to invest in better technology, only 37% of business IT leaders feel that way.5 For most employees, the solution has been simple: use personal devices to bridge the gaps—often to the dismay of company IT and cybersecurity experts. 53% of telecommuters say they rely on a personal computer for work, spending as much as $348 on average to upgrade a personal computer for work.6

Unfortunately, there’s one telling statistic that says we’ve still got a ways to go in support a completely remote workforce. 84% of remote workers say they lose access to an application at least once a week, with 11% citing it as a daily occurrence.7 Remote work only works if the technology that supports it works.

How do employees feel about remote work?

How many can’t wait to get back in the office vs. want to work from home forever? How do individual employees see the benefits of remote working? The data paints a very telling, very lopsided picture of employee sentiment.

According to another World Economic Forum report, a staggering 98% of employees would maintain a work-from-home arrangement for the rest of their careers, given the option.8 In fact, an astounding 62% claimed they’d take a pay cut if it meant being able to work from home!9

Despite their emphatic love of remote work, employees are still adjusting. Many cite struggles unplugging or separating work from home, while others are frustrated with new schedules and communication modes. But it’s all worth it, as 85% of people say remote work ultimately makes for a better work/life balance.10

Are employees safe working from home?

During a pandemic, employee safety inspires concern for health and wellness. Naturally, employees are safer working from home largely because it’s a form of self-containment. That said, we’re talking about a different kind of safety: cybersecurity.

As of July, as many as 46% of global businesses encountered at least one cybersecurity scare since their shift to a remote working model. Businesses have countered. 73% of businesses have given staff extra cybersecurity training while working remotely, with specific training around passwords and log-in credentials.11

Despite an emphasis on cybersecurity, sentiments remain shaky about online privacy and safety. 71% of people believe remote working during COVID-19 has increased the likelihood of a data breach. Even more telling, roughly 6 in 10 employees say they felt more secure working in-office as compared to at home.12

The data continues to roll in

For most of the working world, we’re less than a year into the Great Work From Home Experiment. The longer people telecommute, the more we’ll learn and the more questions we’ll be able to answer. Until then, we can only go by what we know—and we know that remote work is working.

Keep Reading: Boost Team Collaboration with 10 Remote Working Tools