With 2023 kicking into high gear and RTO in full swing, it’s time to start thinking about the trends that will shape facilities management in 2023. 

The facilities management (FM) industry has been in the midst of major disruption for years. Accelerating technology trends were expected to be the major industry disruptor. However, the COVID pandemic sped up many aspects of tech adoption while simultaneously slowing down or forcing a detour on others.

For example, over the last three years, facilities managers have been faced with the need to prioritize the implementation of public health safety measures over other plans. They’ve also been thwarted by shrinking commercial real estate spaces and a remote workforce no longer using parts of large facilities.

As we look to the future, the facilities industry is at a crossroads. Its strategic evolution involves:

  • Redefining the core skills and competency necessary to manage worksites.
  • Assessing technology needs in a rapidly sophisticated tech marketplace.
  • Balancing worksite modifications with hybrid and remote worker needs.
  • Finding ways to audit their successes and missteps.
  • Staying flexible in the face of potential public health, political, or economic disruptions at facilities around the world.

So, what are the trends that will affect future facilities? Many of these apply to corporate office buildings or retail spaces as well as more specialized facilities like schools and hospitals. And while not every organization will have the same needs or resources to work with, the overarching trends are essentially the same.

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Current challenges facing facilities managers

Last year, we predicted some trends in facilities management for 2022, most of which were technology-based. The implementation of these solutions is still ongoing, due in part to the following:

  • The cost of new technology.
  • The renovations necessary to install features like IoT sensors and the 5G infrastructure needed to run it.
  • The necessity to up-skill workers before implementing tools like computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software.

Still, organizations have spent $1.2 trillion on IoT technologies, by some estimates. The data analytics they’ve helped produce has been used by 63% of companies to increase productivity while helping cut energy costs by up to 20%. Meanwhile, smart technologies like digital signage and wayfinding were more easily implemented in 2022, though their success is harder to measure.

With many 2022 trends still in play, 2023 will see a continuation of tech upscaling in commercial real estate (CRE). But the overarching goal will be to address the more human aspects of facilities usage.

Here are some of the facilities management trends that we can expect to see in 2023.

1. Coping with expanding and contracting space needs

Nearly every industry is grappling with changing space needs and a distributed workforce. For example, an office may have sent non-essential workers home for months, reducing the need for real estate. But upon inviting people back to the office, they may have needed more space to accommodate social distancing protocols. If that office has a large number of hybrid workers, spaces may need to be converted to temporary desks and meeting rooms that can be reserved on specific days with hotdesking and hoteling software.

Many companies initially sought to reduce spending during the pandemic, and their focus turned to optimizing space. Despite the desire to limit spending, the statistics showed that more companies expanded their footprints instead of contracting them. In some cases, this meant moving to a more affordable suburban location rather than renewing leases. Either way, there was more long-term confidence in the real estate market than forecasts initially predicted.

The point is that facilities managers have been challenged to cope with constantly changing space and utilization needs. And because many organizations are still negotiating back-to-office plans with employees, the trend of change and uncertainty will continue into 2023.

2. Putting safety first

Worker turnover has been a major problem since the start of the pandemic. And workers with less experience and training may pose safety risks to themselves and others. Turnover rates have also been high in facilities management, affecting institutional memory and slowing down progress on new maintenance projects and upgrades.

Employee retention will be a primary focus for organizations in 2023. For facilities managers, the trend will be towards focusing on how to ensure workplaces can be made safer amidst this turnover. This is particularly important when jobs are high risk – such as those in retail, manufacturing, and healthcare – and employees get injured when training isn’t standardized, delivered adequately, and frequently reinforced.

Using software to help record safety incidents and running reports on accidents, injuries, illness, exposures, and near-misses help companies stay compliant and let facilities managers know where to turn their focus in the upcoming year. For example, using a visitor or contractor management system like Sine’s gives facilities managers multiple ways to collect data for reporting.

3. Proactive responses to security risks

In the 2022 State of Employee Safety Report, 73% of those surveyed reported feeling safe at work was “extremely important” to them. Workers are concerned about both physical and cybercrimes. It’s a facility manager’s job to secure buildings from violence and other crime. That’s why new tools that help FM departments accomplish these goals will be front and center in 2023 investments.

Data privacy has been at the forefront of managers’ minds for years. And while technology has helped protect privacy, integrated systems can also be a challenge if they’re not used carefully. Protecting information will be at the forefront of FM trends in 2023 as managers learn from past data leaks, phishing schemes, and other compliance missteps.

Sadly, workplace violence is rising, posing another serious and immediate challenge to workplace security. Facilities managers need to track both the flow of people into and out of buildings and employ systems that deter bad actors with electronic check-in systems and watchlists that can stop threats at the front door. Visitor management systems (VMS), such as Sine’s, can help prevent many of these security risks.

4. Measuring and managing comfort and wellbeing

Every day we learn more about the role our immediate environment plays in our wellness and productivity. Facilities management has long prioritized employee retention, recruiting, productivity, and decreased healthcare costs. But in 2023, new occupational health data will help focus attention on topics such as temperature, lighting, and noise pollution in the CRE industry.

Open-concept offices, movable walls for modular offices, and hoteling and hotdesking have all led to malleable workspaces, for better or worse. These setups drawbacks such as the loss of privacy, personalized temperature control, and natural light from windows, all of which affect employee comfort and productivity.

Facilities managers can play a role in monitoring and modifying the work environment to reduce some of the most problematic aspects of office life, including:

Ergonomics

Purchasing ergonomic furniture to reduce musculoskeletal injuries (the most common workplace injury associated with missed work days) is a vital expenditure. Employees with a good ergonomic environment are 17.5% more productive than those who do not have a comfortable workspace.  

Temperature regulation

FM will be increasingly responsible for monitoring building temperature and its role on productivity, morale, and job satisfaction (which may require giving employees some flexibility in regulating indoor temperature in personal spaces).

Noise pollution

Noise pollution can lead to everything from distraction and poor productivity to high blood pressure. Until recently, the role of noise in the workplace has been overlooked in most industries. But it’s relevant to everyone.

Facilities managers who regulate noise or provide workers with a means of mitigating their exposure (such as earplugs or relocation during loud activities) can help retain employees and cut healthcare costs associated with noise exposure.

Air quality

Updating HVAC systems to address air quality and building ventilation concerns related to contagious diseases, poor air quality due to wildfires, and other breathing issues at work. (NOAA estimates that poor air quality results in $150 billion of illness-related costs per year in the U.S. alone, with $93 billion representing lost productivity from headaches, fatigue, and irritation associated with sick building syndrome.)

In the future, facilities managers will need to explicitly consider employee wellbeing in the design and management of workplaces. For those not undergoing immediate upgrades, using internal surveys to gauge employee nuisance may be helpful, as will IoT sensors that record varying noise levels throughout the day in workspaces.

5. The elevation of FM to the C-suite

As organizations recognize the vital role facilities managers play in creating and maintaining a workplace that attracts, retains, and protects employees, some organizations may elevate their FM directors to the C-suite. This cuts down on the need to argue for managerial buy-in every time an upgrade is necessary.

Facilities managers are also central to an organization’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy, making them indispensable members of the managerial class when it comes to new compliance measures.

facility management technology concept

Using visitor and contractor management software to meet current FM challenges

The crucial role played by facilities managers is increasingly being recognized by executives. FM’s ability to create a safe and productive work environment, adapt to changing employee needs, cope with a distributed workforce, and reshape the physical workplace for maximum employee wellbeing help retain valuable workers, cut healthcare expenditures, save on energy costs, and pave the path to the future of work.

While there are many tools facilities managers can use to meet these challenges, Sine is a prime example of a tool that can meet multiple needs and integrate with systems already in place. From protecting data by moving it from paper to digital sign-in sheets, identifying visitors with badges for better oversight, employing geofencing technologies to monitor sensitive or secure areas, helping employees schedule temporary offices and meeting rooms, and even integrating with IoT sensors, Sine’s solutions keeps buildings and workers safe, secure, productive, compliant, and healthy, and sustainable. And the software does it all while providing an intuitive dashboard that gives facility managers the tools to view problems and progress in real-time and future-proof their workplace.