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Using CAFM software to enable a flexible and agile workplace

It’s common to talk about the trend toward agile or flexible working, and how technology is enabling this. In this feature FMJ asks whether a truly complete mobile solution is feasible in the near future, and whether this could herald the end of the office.

The rise of smart technology means that we can already work anywhere and at anytime. The picture of the traditional, corporate nine-to-five job is being redrawn, and some companies, such as Virgin, have already thrown away the workplace rule book. Richard Branson’s successful, ever-growing business advocates flexible working through a number of initiatives, including working from home, unlimited annual leave, and integrated technology, to encourage increased staff well being and productivity, and a potential reduction in real estate costs.

The rapid development of smart technology, and the proliferation of mobile devices, means that, while not all businesses are ready to consider completely doing away with the traditional office space, the working landscape is changing quickly. There is less permanent desk allocation, increased hotdesking, and laptops take precedence over traditional desktop PCs, with tablets and large format smartphones likely to take their place in the not too distant future. There is no doubt that the world of work has evolved, as increasingly people work flexibly with an approach that fits their own requirements as well as those of the business.

In 10 years’ time, there will certainly be fewer fixed workplaces, more flexible working hours, a focus on cross-collaborative working environments, and workspaces that support employee and customer satisfaction. Service Works Group is developing FM technology to support future demand through the latest web and mobile enhancements to its flagship facilities, estates and workplace management QFM software. Continuous improvements in FM software technology are enabling new functionality to evolve in-line with current user needs, and to respond to future facilities and built environment requirements.

Key emerging technology trends to support future FM strategy include self-service technology and mobile capability. Our recent survey of facilities managers, for this year’s Facilities Show, demonstrated that more than a quarter of respondents currently use their FM software application for self- service and 65 per cent identified mobile capability as a significant FM software technology trend. Facilities managers already support, not just those in a fixed workplace, but those working across multiple locations. Mobile technology is a key enabler in the way in which we can communicate, so that everyone can work flexibly and remotely, approaching work in a new, more fluid manner.

The growth of consumer portable devices, from tablets to smartphones, is spearheading the trend for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and this trend will continue to grow along with the rise in mobile FM software apps. In a recent YouGov survey, almost half of employees reported that they currently use their personal devices for work and 55 per cent of senior directors now rely on smartphones to manage their day-to-day work. Mobile devices will make online collaboration with industry experts possible, which will increase upskilling; support the management of operatives and contractors; allow tasks to be intelligently assigned to resources based on work schedules and operator skills; provide users with an intuitive single point of contact; streamline job and remote task management; and reduce operational costs.

Cloud technology is being embraced by FMs, allowing web-based, portal-driven access to CAFM software, ensuring universal system accessibility, and providing a highly scalable solution that can grow in line with their business. In turn, CAFM providers are continuing to develop their solutions to offer cross-platform, integrated functionality for facilities, and space management.

While there are clear business benefits to moving to a complete mobile solution, there are still issues that prevent businesses from making the transition. Risk management and security continue to be concerns for users considering moving to the Cloud; for some the increasing pace of changing technology presents a challenge in terms of understanding and integrating each new wave of innovation; and some employers dispute the benefits of agile working.

We are most definitely untethered from the confines of the traditional office space and work patterns and free to create new high-performance, convenient workspaces. FM technology can make a positive impact in the future, shaping and supporting the changes that will have dramatic impacts on the workplace as we know it. However, change will not only be guided by technology but by the human need for collaborative and social connection.

Read more here: http://www.fmj.co.uk/smarter-working/