How Facilities Management Companies are Helping their Clients Meet New Demands with Post-COVID Hybrid Working
Hybrid working and facilities management are central to the current transition going on within the traditional workplace.
With the UK having now lifted all COVID-19 restrictions, returning to work looks a little different than most initially expected. After almost two years of remote working, employees have been reluctant to give up their home comforts and get back to full-time office work.
In response, companies have been meeting their employees halfway with the hybrid working model in an attempt to maintain collaboration, but also—worker retention. However, the new workplace also comes with a number of new facility demands, which are expected to evolve over time.
Returning to the office in a more uncertain world than we left it means agility is critical. Going forwards, FM will be central in forging the workplace of the future, and in this ever-changing post-COVID landscape, adaptability is key.
What does hybrid working look like in 2022?
There’s no one answer to this question, which is why facilities management must crucially recognise that a one size fits all solution— simply won’t cut it. Central to the hybrid working model is flexibility and freedom—a boost for employee satisfaction but a lot less certainty for FM companies in predicting facility needs.
With ‘collaborative workspaces’ fast replacing traditional setups, employee attendance is becoming irregular and difficult to track. This means irregular energy usage, catering needs, cleaning schedules, and building capacity. Without detailed data analysis and ongoing monitoring, FM companies could risk resource waste or scarcity, and potentially the future of hybrid working altogether.
How important is facilities management for hybrid working?
Whilst this new normal certainly comes with its challenges, it’s essential that FM adapt, as client demand is only rising. According to Office for National Statistics, prior to COVID, only 5% of the total workforce worked mainly from home.
As of present, 44% of employees expect to work from the office just three days a week or less, and big-name companies like Microsoft, Ford and Citigroup are leading the way, fast-making hybrid working the norm.
With the new demand coming mostly from employees, employers are relying on FM to help them create a workplace that promotes worker satisfaction. According to a recent survey run by Microsoft with YouGov, 51% of employees would consider leaving a job that doesn’t offer hybrid working. That means FM isn’t just responsible for creating a productive workspace, but helping their clients avoid a surge in employee turnover too.
What is facilities management’s strategy for meeting this hybrid working vision?
Data is a vital foundation in tackling the unpredictability of hybrid workspaces. From quantitive energy data to qualitative employee feedback, this can provide critical insight for a successful strategy. Data is essential in all areas: ensuring efficient HVAC usage, sufficient hot-desking capacity, employee productivity and wellbeing and health & safety, to name just a few.
IoT (Internet of Things) for Hybrid Working
In order to gauge this vital data, FM companies are increasingly turning to IoT. With irregular employee attendance, IoT has helped provide predictive analytics through Big Data—revealing accurate resource usage patterns despite hybrid working’s unpredictability.
Occupancy sensors are one IoT device which have provided vital insight for many FM companies. These report on how often and by what volumes specific building areas are in use. With this data, FM companies have been able to devise a more efficient strategy encompassing optimal cleaning schedules, hot-desking availability, and energy savings.
Motion sensors have also proven useful, eliminating, in part, the need to predict energy needs at all. These can be installed in HVAC systems, lighting, or security devices and provide on-demand services and increased efficiency.
As an added bonus, sensors provide the opportunity to tighten up cost control, an industry-wide pain point, and also contribute to companies’ net-zero missions, allowing more sustainable deployment and less waste.
Data provided by IoT can also facilitate automation. One method is through Machine2Machine (M2M) technology which allows devices to exchange data and identify maintenance needs early on, without human intervention. This means reduced technological downtime within hybrid workspaces and reduced maintenance costs, as issues can be rectified before major disruptions develop.
Hybrid working is the future?
As the workplace increasingly shifts towards the hybrid model, FM must continuously monitor and adapt strategies to meet evolving trends. With its flexibility and freedom, hybrid working can present differing challenges for each client. However, with an agile approach and a solid data-based foundation, FM companies can help drive the hybrid work revolution and ensure it a sustainable, successful, and long-term future.