In 2024, facility management (FM) will be navigating a dynamic landscape shaped by evolving trends. The industry is witnessing a pronounced shift towards sustainable and technology-driven practices, with a growing emphasis on smart buildings, energy efficiency, and environmental stewardship.

Integration of advanced technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence, and data analytics is becoming integral to optimise facility operations and enhance occupant experiences.

However, these advancements bring forth a set of challenges, including cybersecurity risks, the need for upskilling the workforce, and ensuring seamless interoperability of diverse systems. As organisations strive to align FM strategies with broader business goals, the sector is at the forefront of adapting to the changing global landscape, driving innovation, and ensuring resilient and future-ready facilities.

Upskilling is the new hiring

There wasn’t such a labour shortage crisis like the actual one since both World Wars. It was somehow the perfect storm — a rapid ageing of the Western population, COVID-19 popularising remote work and early retirement, and emergent trends such as the quiet quitting brought the labour market to its knees.

According to a GlobalData report, the labour shortage is costing companies a good amount of money in increased wages and salaries, as well as supply chain disruptions. More companies than ever are worried about the issue and mentioning it in surveys and leaders’ conferences.

If you don’t want to overpay even before you know if a new employer is a right fit, the answer is simple: upskill or reskill your current teams. Think about it for a second — in an era where employees want to feel valued and are increasingly demanding, what’s better than training your current team to bring added value to the table and suppress a need?

When in doubt, look inside to those you already know and trust. Enable them, empower their careers and increase well-being and productivity levels within your business.

Smart management of the supply chain will be critical

Supply management is becoming more and more important by the day. Maintenance just got more expensive, especially if you also factor in the labour shortage and inflation.

Team up with suppliers, see them as partners and unlock all the collaborative potential in the new age of business-to-business relationships. Supply management and supply chains are not a sum-zero game anymore – both parties will win or lose at the same time if they don’t focus on collaboration, innovation and transparency. 

It may be a cliché to bring back the “make love not war” motto popularised in the 1970s, but some kind of evolved iteration of the sentence should become a staple of your negotiations with other companies. 

Flexibility, diversity and inclusion

These aren’t just buzzwords anymore. Remember when everyone and their mum used to say the consumers of the future would demand businesses and facilities to be more diverse and inclusive? Well, flash news: those consumers of the future have grown and are a major part of the market right now.

Facility managers will have to be aware of elements such as inclusive language in their spaces, welcoming diversity of beliefs and sexual orientation and even going as further as designing and managing gender-neutral bathrooms.

Does it seem farfetched to think all of this will be in demand in 2024? Adapt quicker and gain an advantage over the competition or avoid a bumpy transition to compliance when many of these topics turn out to become the norm in the near future. 

Hybrid work and space usage

It’s fair to say we’re no longer the same after the COVID-19 pandemic. Workdays will probably never go back to what they were, and all signs point towards hybrid work. Workers will come to the office a few times a week and work remotely for the remainder of the time. Since people stop coming to work every day, companies will require less office space and may adopt a “hot-desk” policy. 

In fact, workers are not the only ones who may benefit from these changes. A recent report by Deloitte points out that reducing real estate footprints has several benefits, including cutting travel costs, energy consumption, and carbon footprint. However, optimising these limited workspaces is a challenge for facility managers. There’s only one way around it: monitoring how space is used.

This brings us to a new trend: location awareness and sensor technology. Sensors, which should be unnoticeable, can be used to monitor occupancy, room temperature and humidity, etc. That data allows facility managers to adjust to real space usage, optimise space and provide comfort at all times.

Read also: How can a facility manager get the most out of their team?

Digital workplace services

Data from sensors can be collected directly onto the building management system or facility management software. But that’s not the only digital trend facility managers will need to contend with. User experience is the greatest trend of the last decade, and human-centric FM and Maintenance will grow even more with Industry 5.0. The question is, how can you provide a great experience in hybrid workplaces?

First, we recommend integrating facility management software with other tools or apps the company uses regularly. For example, integrate your FM software with apps to book conference or meeting rooms, use communication tools to receive feedback, and so on. You should also streamline service requests (e.g. reports about printers, broken coffee machines and other communal equipment). 

Sustainability and building efficiency

Another hot topic for 2024 is sustainability. The COVID-19 pandemic put into evidence how much pollution is generated by other day-to-day activities. This prompted several organisations, including the OECD, to call for a “sustainable post-COVID recovery”. But, for facility managers, sustainability hides several challenges: paperless operations, building efficiency, and better waste management. 

The good news is that sensors help with this task too. Sensor data can be used to optimise operations and save costs – for example, you detect when and where you’re wasting the most energy. But you can also use motion sensors to connect and disconnect lights, which is one of the simplest ways to save energy and electricity. 

But, of course, cost-saving based on optimisation and appropriate maintenance only goes so far. If your reports show there’s nothing else where you can cut without compromising comfort, it’s time to benchmark your building’s energy consumption. You can then use that data and reports to justify retrofitting the building’s thermal envelope and improve its insulation. 

Proactive maintenance 

The benefits of proactive maintenance (either preventive or predictive) are clear. There’s no other way to solve issues before your clients become aware of them! But easier said than done, right? As incredible as it sounds, proactive maintenance may finally come as a byproduct of all the trends we’ve seen so far. If facility managers give in to the latest technology and start collecting data, they can achieve some kind of predictability. 

Once you have that predictability, your maintenance plan can become more proactive and even more incisive. There’s less overmaintenance and fewer repairs. As we’ve recently talked about with Cláudio Celino, an engineer who specialises in building maintenance, you need to use data and software to “finally stabilise the amount of preventive maintenance” and “reduce the number of repairs” at the same time. 

However, those are not the only advantages. As we all know, in times of crisis, facility management may be one of the first departments to suffer a budget cut. That means it’s more important than ever to have predictability and find out which maintenance tasks can be deferred until the budget allows. 

Wherever you look, it seems like “data” is the key. It’s what allows managers to adjust to hybrid work and optimise resources — or, in more managerial words, cut costs. Operational changes may have started out of need during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it looks like most of them are here to stay. So a last word of advice: make sure you’re prepared for 2024 with the right technology!

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