ISS Facility Services, founded in 1901 in Copenhagen, Denmark, is one of the largest Facility Management companies in the world. In 2020, the company had more than 400,000 employees in 40 countries and amassed a diverse client base in manufacturing and in the healthcare, financial, and aviation industries.

To enable both productivity and safety, ISS provides all types of services, from soft to hard facility management: cleaning, maintennace, gardening, space management, among others. Using their own words, they’re committed to “providing extraordinary experiences and safe spaces”.

We recently had an opportunity to chat with Rui Gomes, ISS Facility Services Country Manager for Portugal, about the future of maintenance. We talked about his predictions about the impact of the pandemic, the challenges FM will face in the future, and the changes they will bring about. Now, you can finally read the full interview!

Rui, what are the main challenges Facility Management faces these days?

I believe the three big challenges are understanding users’ needs, adapting facilities and services to those needs, and connecting people and facilities. 

If we’re covering Facility Management’s main challenges, we also need to mention its trends. What do you think are the biggest future trends? 

First, I feel FM is gaining momentum, focusing not only on providing services but also on user experience. Then, there are other three issues that I think will be great trends: 

  • Greater building sustainability, where FM also takes on an important role by improving its operation, as well as supporting clients’ actions; 
  • Pledging transparency and using technology; 
  • A relationship between FM and HR. 


It’s not just about transitioning to a virtual workplace, but above all acknowledging that we’ll need to adjust to a new workplace concept


Let’s take it from there. The first two things you mentioned were “understanding the user’s needs” and “adapting to those needs”. Two years on, are we still on a learning curve? 

Despite going back to “pre-COVID normal”, there are things the pandemic has changed irrevocably. Not only in our personal habits but also in the way we relate to work, people, and spaces. 

It’s not just about transitioning to a virtual workplace, but above all acknowledging that we’ll need to take a step forward, adjust to a new workplace concept and, thus, to a new way of working. 

Is redefining workplaces the reason why FM is gaining momentum?  

These new challenges bring on new trends in the market. Organisations no longer define a facility manager or a service provider as someone who should only focus on providing that service, quite the opposite. Facility managers gained more prominence within organisations because they contribute towards attracting and retaining talent, and provide users with a unique experience.

The second trend you highlighted was sustainability. Is that something you take on as a facility manager, or something clients expect? 

Sustainability and commitment to the environment are two of the biggest goals for companies. That’s just as important, if not more than, having adequate workspaces for the employees. Clients have set ambitious goals already, and they expect providers to join in and achieve them. Again, facility management plays a very important role here too, since it promotes better practices at the client’s facility. 


“People are right at the center.”


The third thing you mentioned is technology. Undoubtedly, technology is ubiquitous. But what’s the biggest impact for FM? 

Technology emerges as a great ally because it helps FM with data collection and analysis. Both are essential to deliver insights and helping companies grow as organisations and businesses. Today, data analysis is central and critical to strategic decision-making, allowing us to deliver customised services that meet the company’s needs. 

The closer relationship between FM and RH also helps with service customisation?

Yes. [At ISS] we believe HR will be much closer to FM to adapt spaces to users’ needs, giving out precious insights in what concerns experiences and how to best engage with users. People are right at the centre.

“People are right at the centre” seems to be Industry 5.0’s motto. What does this shift mean for Maintenance and FM? 

For those who work in Facility Management, it’s important to make an in-depth reflection on the changes these new work contexts bring about. We need to analyse its impact, the users’ needs, the repercussions of this digital transformation, and the new relationships between workers and companies. 

Besides, we need to redefine physical workplaces and the services they will demand. To be successful, [facility management] companies need to follow trends, and that means they need to be constantly up to date with the market’s new needs.


“Facility Management’s role will focus on users’ experiences and needs.”


Facility Management will need to focus more on the end user?

Yes. FM work will need to be done in total harmony with users, so as to suggest solutions and improvements that can be customised and quickly adapted.

If you had to choose one word to describe FM’s future, what would it be?

Experience. Because we believe Facility Management’s role will focus on users’ experiences and needs.