It’s always risky to make predictions for the coming year, but it seems pretty certain that at least some of the main influences on the FM sector over the past year; wellbeing, coworking, coping with the challenges caused by Brexit and digitisation, will continue into 2020. The Brexit conundrum is yet to be solved but as for the other trends; the focus on the benefits of wellbeing at work is only going to grow, the coworking revolution has changed the very concept of ‘workplace’ and digital technology looks set to be a major disruptor in the way in which FM services are managed and delivered.
Wellbeing at work has moved inexorably up the FM agenda during 2019, with more and more organisations waking up to the need to explore the way in which the working environment impacts employee wellbeing and performance. For example, healthcare giant GSK set up a pilot study within its Workplace Performance Hub – using its own people to test the impact of the space in which they work on their wellbeing, satisfaction levels and productivity. According to their Director of Real Estate, the results so far have succeeded all their expectations.
From the way in which workplace lighting technology is designed to support circadian rhythms - to surveys such as Remark Group’s ‘Air Quality and Wellbeing at Work’ which showed how poor indoor air quality causes headaches and poor workplace performance, the role of FMs in promoting health and happiness at work will only grow.
Meanwhile, despite the struggles played out by WeWork – the coworking revolution continues unabated. A recent survey by Cushman & Wakefield and CoreNet Global found that nearly two-thirds of companies now utilise coworking to some degree, and many respondents expect to double their commitment to coworking over the next five years. Because coworking spaces must be better or at least equal to a corporate space, there is a priority within the sector on user-centric designs that compete with corporate spaces. But this approach works both ways, with corporate real estate being required to up its game to provide superior workplace experiences.
Digital technology has played a greater role in FM service delivery this year. We’ve seen the beginnings of the ‘uberisation’ of FM – where app-based technology is used to deliver FM services; from waste retrieval to cleaning, using local service providers. A handful of specialist suppliers use this model but it looks pretty certain that the sector will increasingly adopt digital technology to monitor the performance of assets. This will enable providers to not only respond to reactive call outs more promptly,but be able to predict when an asset is about to fail and have the engineer on call before the request for service is even made.
The increasing use of sensors to monitor occupant’s comfort levels and give them at least a modicum of control of their surroundings is also on the rise with the use of apps to control heating, lighting, air quality and even pre-order their morning coffee.
Going into to next year – expect to see the ways in which digitally collected data will make it easier than ever for FMs to predict what occupants want and deliver it seamlessly.