By Nai Kanell
Director of Marketing
SpaceIQ

Facilities managers have been around as long as the workplace itself, though their duties have evolved over time. Now, it appears we’re headed for a changing of the guard. According to a report from technology provider and document services company ARC, 40% of facilities management professionals are set to retire by 2026. Who’s replacing them? Millennials.

The workplace of today is undergoing significant change—the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), widespread quantification of workplace variables, consolidation of physical offices, and workforce globalization. On top of all this, there are as many as five generations present in the workforce, each with unique needs.

As the largest workforce segment, Millennials are poised to assume facilities management roles and a bold, new landscape of duties.

Millennials and the future of facility management

New facility managers will need to adapt to the growing prevalence of workplace oversight technology. Thankfully, Millennials are well-equipped to embrace this change. This generation of early adopters and tech-savvy professionals should have no trouble handling the shift to digital workplaces.

Moving forward, Millennials will manage a growing ecosystem of network-enabled devices. Computer-Aided Facilities Management (read more on what is CAFM) platforms and Integrated Workplace Management Systems (read more on what is IWMS), sensors, beacons, wearables, and smart technologies with their affiliated applications require intricate workplace integration and management.

The shift to digital tech has a fundamental purpose: To quantify the intangibles of a workplace. Gathering data about space utilization, utility costs, and employee sentiment drives analytics on efficiency, reliability, and productivity. Tomorrow’s facilities managers will leverage data to streamline workplaces more than their predecessors.

Millennials will also need to recognize the demands of multigenerational workplaces in a way like never before. As the largest segment of the workforce, Millennials must understand the needs of older generations (Baby Boomers, Gen X) and become familiar with the tendencies and habits of the up-and-coming workforce (Gen Z). This means curating workplaces that are broadly accommodating and supportive of each generation’s work style and habits.

Space utilization and cost control is the glue holding these changes together. Facility managers should apply smart technologies and practices to maximize leases in the face of potential future instability in the commercial real estate sector. It’s all about making what you have count.

Looming headwinds in the facilities management market

As tech-enhanced facilities management becomes more critical, a big problem looms: qualified Millennial applicants are scarce. The ARC report sheds light on the difficulties of integrating Millennials into facility management:

  1. Misunderstood job duties: Because the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics doesn’t recognize facility management as a standalone occupation, many job prospects are unaware of its significance. It’s more traditionally grouped into administrative services or general management, making the job responsibilities hard for candidates to decipher.
  2. Differing values: Facilities management is seen by many Millennials as building management, when this is only one aspect of the job. Millennials and Gen Z put less emphasis on physical workplaces and more on the benefits and incentives a company offers. As a result, they’re less inclined to apply for a job they believe is rooted in something they don’t inherently value.
  3. Management expectations: As facilities management evolves as a profession, many C-level executives are losing touch with what the job entails. They know what they expect from their facility managers, but may not realize how the job is now done. This can force Millennials into a position they’re largely underequipped for. For example, CFOs may want metrics about space utilization costs, but may not be willing to invest in the technologies FMs need to provide accurate data.

There’s also concern about Millennials’ interest in facilities management as a career. As the position is being redefined, it’s harder to gauge exactly what they can or should expect from their employer and what the true scope of their duties will be. And while some might jump at the chance to be pioneers in a profession experiencing a paradigm shift, many are waiting for the dust to settle and standardization to play out.

Millennials are the key to future facilities management

The demand for facilities management is growing rapidly and Millennials are well-positioned to fill it. But to build excitement and interest, companies need to evaluate their needs and expectations—and transparently communicate them to candidates.

If you’re getting ready to bring on a new facility manager, take stock of the position beyond pay and benefits. Clearly define job duties and expectations. Consider your company’s five-year roadmap and how facilities management software factors into it. Identify the technologies and programs you have or want to invest in.

Millennials are the perfect fit for the technological, problem-solving, and organizational aspects of managing the workplace of the future. But they can only succeed if they have all the information that goes with the job.

Keep reading: Millennials in the workplace, what do Millennials love?