The new job of Facility Managers becomes smarter and smarter.

The workplace world is constantly evolving, environments are changing and even jobs take on hybrid characteristics. In many enterprises, the role of the Facility Manager is first-hand experiencing these changes.

Who is and what is the perimeter of this role which isn’t new but becoming increasingly important? According to the definition of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA),

the FM is the one who has the task of ensuring “functionality, comfort, safety, security and efficiency of the environment by integrating people, place, process and technology”. In practice, the FM defines the times and methods of structures maintenance, coordinates the service staff, manages the budget dedicated to the latter, and in short, he/she has to meet the efficiency required by the work environment. The services are related to utilities, physical infrastructures and whatever improves the workplace conditions.

The first step towards the digital world, in the Facility Management and Real Estate field in general, is connected to energy efficiency; this theme has facilitated the first digitalization wave and it has highlighted the benefits in terms of efficiency. In the new buildings, the implementation of smart solutions is often mandatory and the areas destinated to offices are equipped to become intelligent, and moreover scalable and designed for the new way of working, since organizations aim to flexibility.

Consequentially, the role of the FM is also involved following the current digitalization processes and it is increasingly related to services based on software solutions, cloud, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. Today, this role should be more properly defined as Smart Facility Manager.

The new SFM, through the use of software and intelligent solutions, is engaged in optimizing management and maintenance costs, in reducing risks and generating innovation and value, as well as in creating a more performing environment.

In fact, these smart places allow the constant monitoring of systems and data, so as to promptly intervene in the face of failures or problems or even to prevent them.

An example of energy efficiency is the smart meeting room that can pre-arrange the space to accommodate people, by managing the lights, activating the air conditioning system in advance and turning it off at the end of the meeting or by warning participants of upcoming meetings, but also by sending automatic alarms to the FM if any extraordinary maintenance is required.

Hot Desking and Hoteling concepts are practical and functional examples of the digital revolution in the workplace, in particular when linked to the smart lockers usage in this environment. Many companies are adopting a coworking similar structure in terms of the agile way in which they are managing and using the spaces: thanks to an internet connected smartphone, an employee can book/use workstations and lockers only on the days he/she is present in the office.

The focus is always on “resources efficiency improvement”, or in this case, the efficiency of square meters and the reduction of the associated fixed costs.

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Which are the benefits for the companies that are embracing digitization? In this new perspective, the network of connected sensors and objects continuously sends data to a repository. The data are processed and correlated through Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning services; it can provide valuable information on how to maximize efficiency, ensure high quality employee experience while reducing management costs.
 
The results are standardized, replicable and easily measurable processes, which allow immediate and tangible savings, and an exponential increase in the quality of employees and consumers life, who will share places that are more and more smart and attentive to their needs.
 
Focusing on benefits, the enterprises haven’t been still but have invested in their future and in the remodeling of the workplace. According to a recent report published by Fact.MR, the total turnover of the facility management market is set to reach approximately $ 47.5 billion by the end of 2022, while in the longer term, it is expected to reach a value of approximately 153 billions of dollars by 2032, an expenditure of about 3 times higher than that of 2022 in a 10 years time-frame.
 
In conclusion, companies must constantly observe the trends and needs of the market, especially the work one, in order to be always prepared. The future is clear: the role of the Facility Manager will be smart and fundamental within any phygital workplace.

Therefore, it is necessary to start investments to promote the office evolution and its digitalization, and facilitate companies to keep up with the technological evolution and in meeting the changing needs of employees and customers, while attracting and retaining new talents.

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