Another year is coming to an end, so it’s time for our annual roundup of what’s to come. These are our predictions for the Facility Management trends we’ll see in 2021. 


Promoting Social Distancing at Work

COVID-19 is the big elephant in the room for facility managers in 2021. Even if vaccines are released in early 2021, social distancing will still be an issue for FM. Different demographic groups will be vaccinated at different times. And then there’s the renewed hypochondriac in us, which won’t go back into the closet that easily. 


Many companies will likely continue to operate remotely. But for those that are slowly returning to their headquarters, FM is key. Sensor technology and analytics can be used to monitor desk occupancy, washroom distancing, and cleaning regimes. Plus, temperature and humidity sensors improve comfort and minimise the chances of spreading the virus through air. 


If you’re just now returning to the office, it’s a good time to review our guide on how to deal with COVID-19 as a facility manager and this article on how to avoid COVID-19 contamination at work.


IoT & Remote Control

If there’s one thing COVID-19 brought to the forefront, it’s remote monitoring. Fortunately, facility managers had IoT on their side. Sensor technology has almost endless applications in FM, including asset tagging, lighting, HVAC, fire suppression, security, inventory management, and equipment monitoring. As a curiosity, in 2015 McKinsey estimated the IoT market would be worth $11.1 trillion by 2025, and that it would cut the costs of chronic disease treatments up to 50%. In 2017, Gartner estimated there would be roughly 20 billion devices connected to the Internet, while Cisco put that number at 50. 


We won’t know exactly how many IoT devices were activated in 2020 for a while, but it’s clear companies have been counting on them to face the global pandemic. IoT has had numerous applications during COVID-19 outbreaks, including in remote working, stock management, healthcare, and industrial manufacturing. This trend is likely to continue and evolve, as key players fine-tune their IoT devices to improve efficiency and accuracy.


Check out the latest IoT devices you can use to improve comfort and safety at Infraspeak’s IoT Store


Move over, stand-alone software

What’s interesting about those studies is that they all coincide in one thing — between 40 to 60% of IoT devices rely on interoperability. Interconnectivity is inescapable in 2021. Plus, there’s a new generation of facility managers — 40% of today’s facility managers will retire by 2026, so millennials are quickly taking their place — and they will not settle for anything less than a mobile-first mindset or a user-friendly platform they can control with the tip of their fingers. 


When you add those two together, it’s self-evident why facility management software must now integrate with other tools essential to business — from project management platforms to ERPS to invoicing software. Interconnectivity means management can cross data easily, which provides insight into the whole operation, not just on the FM and maintenance slices. Now, not to brag, but… did you know Infraspeak is now the most integrated platform around? 


Green buildings

Green buildings are not exactly a new trend, and they were certainly in full bloom in the EU in 2020. The European Commission launched its very first framework for sustainable buildings last October, Level(s). It’s an open resource, which means everyone from planners to builders and facility managers can use it to assess their current performance and improve. Besides, every member state had to review its National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) for 2021-2030, as a part of a European plan to improve building stock and become carbon neutral by 2050. 


The heavyweight will fall on builders for new projects, but Facility Management will probably pick up the slack on older buildings. The focus is on energy efficiency, which can be achieved through better insulation and sensor technology (yes, again!). Around 35 million buildings will be renovated by 2030 according to the “Renovation Wave” initiative, and this might be a driver in the industry in the post-COVID world. And yes, this will likely remain a trend in the UK even after Brexit is fully consummated on January 1st.


Right to Repair 

If you thought green buildings were “it”, there’s more. The EU recently introduced new legislation regarding the Right to Repair for household appliances, phones, and tablets. In 2021, all of these items will need to have a degree of repairability, making them easier to reuse, repair, and recycle. France is even scheduled to become the first country to adopt a Repairability Rating Label next January. 


Although the UK did not adopt this new piece of legislation, it’s likely to impact the UK market as well – manufacturers will hardly carry different products just for one market, and British companies will need to abide by these rules if they’re exporting to the EU market. How this will impact Facility Management is still unclear, but it will probably slow down the depreciation of these assets, boost the number of repairs, curb down replacements, and decrease electronic waste.


Predictive Maintenance

Speaking of repairs, it’s only appropriate if we close our predictions for 2021 with AI-based predictive maintenance. As maintenance managers know, preventive maintenance sometimes relies on excessive or unproductive work – which means we’re wasting time, resources, and throwing away parts before the end of their useful life. Predictive and condition-based maintenance decrease that waste, and are more sustainable all around. 


The good news is that the sheer amount of data facility managers can collect from sensors alone is enough to make maintenance more predictive. Sensors embedded in equipment can help determine when components should be replaced. However, you can double down with AI models that analyse patterns and failure modes over the asset’s lifespan. AI-based maintenance, powered by IIoT, is definitely one of the trends to watch out for in 2021 and beyond. 

Remote & Automated: What’s Next for Facility Management?

What challenges will Facility Management face in the future? Could it ever be fully remote? Will it ever be automated and drive us all out of our jobs? Our new ebook covers it all! Download yours now and find out what the prognosis is for the coming years.

You can download it right here.

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