The importance of a high quality workplace environment has been creeping up the FM agenda for some time, and the launch of the Stoddart Review in May this year has provided a focus among UK facilities management professionals. Supported by Service Works Group, among others, this initiative aims to promote recognition of the workplace as a key driver in organisational performance. According to the Leesman Index, just 55% of employees agreed their office environments allow them to work productively. Technology will undoubtedly play a large part improving this, as we have seen in previous blogs. Developments in IoT will allow workers to tailor their workspace according to their personal preferences, and this is set to be a game changer in terms of productivity and collaboration. At the Workplace Week 2016 convention, workplace strategist Jan Johnson stated: “Every person is a knowledge asset – it’s the fusion of that person’s knowledge with those of others that the organisation benefits from” and this fusion can be achieved via flexibility in the workplace environment.
Nano benefits for building materials
But what about outside of the workplace? The trend for all things small continues in this area too with the growth of nanotechnology. This ‘molecular manufacturing’ is seeing rapid growth in the medical sector, for example with the use of nanopellets for precise delivery of medication, but is more commonly used in the production of materials. Through nanotechnology, it is possible to tailor the structure of materials to achieve specific properties. This is currently an untapped source of benefit for facilities management – dirt repellent finishes on external surfaces can reduce the need for cleaning, additives in paint can inhibit the growth of mould and mildew in humid areas, or treated concrete can be denser, eliminating water penetration and extending its life. In addition to the long-term cost savings, buildings will remain in a more presentable condition which in turn will influence a positive mindset on those who walk through its doors each day.
Extended battery life for remote workforce
Nanotechnology is also to be used to significantly expand the life of batteries, increasing the internal surface area to allow greater absorption of energy. This holds great potential for 24/7 service industries like facilities management, where connectivity is vital. Developments in wearable technology and augmented reality (such as using HaloLens glasses to look beneath the surface of BIM structures) will see the industry becoming more dependent on devices. In turn, the requirement for battery life will become a priority. Facilities managers and operatives increasingly need to be able to manage work on the move through accessing their CAFM (Computer Aided Facilities Management) system via smartphones and tablets. The importance of battery life is especially true for ruggedized devices. The benefits brought by sturdy devices that can withstand inhospitable remote locations need to be matched by developments in battery power.
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