This article was featured in the April / May edition of FM Magazine, written by SWG General Manager, Samantha Fuller.
Ever the underdog despite steadily growing professional recognition; a recent FMA survey found that 54% of executives viewed facility management as an “operational expense” rather than a “conduit for delivery of core business” (25%) or a “value adding service” (21%). High construction and utilities costs combined with increasing job turnover rates mean that board level executives must change their view on FM and recognise the profession for the value it brings.
Identifying workplace trends
With FM covering everything from catering to security, on paper the expense can seem disproportionate compared with other, revenue-generating, departments. A necessary evil, if you will. But behind the scenes the work undertaken is more strategic, driving costs down through data analysis and complex calculations. FM teams deploying sensors on assets are given rich information on performance for predictive maintenance, and can identify trends based on footfall to inform, for example, cleaning schedules. As sensors are not yet commonplace tools, data can also be effectively captured and reported on through FM software. Asset costs (both long and short-term) can be reduced, such as by it calculating the most cost-effective method of maintenance (periodic maintenance, call out or complete refurbishment), and comparing expected vs actual performance to allow engineer intervention before breakdown occurs and the workplace is disrupted. Work can be sent directly to an operative’s mobile device to ensure time is not wasted through paper form collection and out-of-date information.
Reducing energy waste
Despite pledging under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions by 26% by 2030, figures released by the Department of Environment and Energy in December show the country is falling drastically short. Reducing corporate energy consumption in every business across Australia is achievable using technology, either through sensors to detect occupation and turning off heating and lighting automatically, or by integrating the building management system (BMS) with FM software. Through this, underperforming, energy draining assets can be identified for servicing and an engineer automatically dispatched. Further integration with room bookings allows meeting areas and offices to be powered only when in use, restricting energy waste and saving money. Across large organisations even small inefficiencies can converge into substantial performance issues, damaging the environment as well as reducing productivity across the organisation.
Optimising space management
As the government continues to offload its unused real estate, and private companies struggle to find good quality, affordable offices, it’s clear that space management is a prime area for strategic consideration. CBRE surveyed 100 Australian-based multinationals and found 57% planned to hire more staff but only 22% planned to increase office space to accommodate them. The necessary rise of flexible working and hot desking will alleviate some pressure – businesses commonly find that after analysis through space and move management technology, actual utilisation is only around 50%. These tools, generally forming part of a wider FM software system, allows comprehensive plans to be created to project usage and identify areas of inefficiency. Potential layouts can be tested and move plans can be evaluated to ensure any changes cause minimal disruption to occupants.
Integrating FM software with BIM
Building Information Modelling (BIM) is rising in prominence as a cost-saving tool, and despite not being mandated as in the UK, both public and private sector companies are already using it for construction and for the operational phase of the facility. For the FM team, BIM provides the holy grail of data about the building, and when integrated with FM software, produces a 3D image to show asset location, make, model, service history and contract information; greatly improving rectification times and reducing repeat visits. The collaborative nature of BIM, with its unique method of digital data management and sharing across all partners from architect to construction and FM, means the latter now has opportunity to share practical and strategic experience at the design stage to improve a building’s layout and usability, as well as ensure easy access for future asset maintenance.
Improving Workplace Wellness
Finally, FM can be seen as a value adding service through its role in workplace wellness initiatives. Work-life balance is now seen as the most important employee objective, according to consultancy firm Gartner, although we still work on average two months’ unpaid overtime a year. Presenteeism, employees coming to work sick, is costing the economy $34 billion a year. Changes made by the FM team to improve workplace surroundings, from green spaces and healthy catering to bike racks and shower facilities, help keep an organisation’s most important assets healthier, happier and more productive. Despite the costs of these changes, a comfortable workplace can reduce employee turnover and help attract new talent, keeping a business alive and competitive both now and into the future.
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