2022, following the decrease of the Omicron variant initiates the hybrid work culture for several companies across India, among which IT giants took the lead. This transition accompanied immense hesitation for both employees and employers considering their health and safety in the wake of the current situation. The Facility Management industry has been playing an integral role as organizations have reopened workplaces. Readiness with maximized safety, end-to-end security and vigilance as well as fostering safe, sanitised and future-proof spaces is the need of the hour. Technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, analytics, and the usage of QR codes have to be actively adopted to promote a 360-degree touchless environment. The facility management industry as a whole is anticipating an overall market growth and surge in demand for services that is characterising the new world of work. Mr. Sudhakar Murthy, Head of Specialist Services Group, Embassy Services Private Limited shares more insights on the same.
- How does integrated facility management leverage new-age technologies in its operations?
The real estate sector and its facilities have a significant impact on the balance sheets of organisations today. The facility management (FM) function impacts everything from customer and employee satisfaction to sustainability efforts. Several organisations find it difficult to manage facilities because of outdated or fragmented systems that don’t communicate with each other, making visibility and control difficult. This is where the use of technology-dependent platforms that link systems, data, and functions across the organisation structure can help optimise the real estate lifecycle and provide better business outputs
- What are the services extended under integrated facility management and what is the value differentiation that tech tools provide to those?
The use of technology platforms in IFM leverages the complete suite of services provided under its umbrella, providing management control over various features, such as event management, digital security, and employee wellbeing. These facilities fall under the ESG scope and may include many other services that do not normally come under the IFM portfolio. Technology applications can help provide solutions across critical areas, including reducing the number of separate systems for tracking assets and facility-related events, providing tools to the team to plan and respond to facility needs, and producing real-time information about facility performance.
- How do these tech-driven FM solutions help industries, and what are the industries that these services are offered in?
Technology-driven FM solutions utilise comprehensive and proven technology platforms that help empower several industries with agile solutions. The use of these technologies is critical as many corporate real estate portfolios tend to be complex, often involving multiple asset types. These platforms will eliminate operational teams working in silos and provide clarity to the management on the overall performance of the business.
Facilities are a large portion of any company’s assets and expenses. Facility management is a critical, methodical business discipline that aids in the optimal management of space, infrastructure, people, and the organization. Boosting performance by creating a restructured service delivery and outsourcing model will have a crucial impact on controlling real estate and facility costs. The alignment of space allocation and utilisation can be improved to minimise cost and enhance workplace efficiency. Using disruptive technologies and adapting the real estate portfolio to change company dynamics, as well as improve work space management and operations, will therefore lead to savings.
Some of the industries that facility management services are offered in include smart cities, manufacturing, banks, and retail, among others. These industries are efficiently leveraging technology-based FM services.
- What are the trends shaping facility management and its intersection with technology and digital transformation?
There are various trends shaping facility management and its intersection with technology and digital transformation. The first trend is the outsourcing of various non-core business or service functions, including procurement, payroll management, digital workplace management, and so on. The second facility management trend is the application of sensor technology in MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing), employee well-being, water and energy management, security, and other areas. One of the critical developments is the incorporation of sustainability and building efficiency into firms’ efforts to achieve net zero targets. Flex work and distributed teams are critical elements of governance in post-COVID-19 situations with smaller teams and more efficient operations.
Shrinking real estate footprints, the growing importance of predictive maintenance, mobile applications gaining focus and increasing responsibility for the environment and our society underline the need for rapid technological development and growth in the FM sector. In addition to harnessing the power of the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and connected devices, more advanced data analytics, cloud-based data collection, and remote monitoring of FM are some of the key trends shaping facility management and its intersection with technology and digital transformation.
- How can this industry scale in the future with tech at its core?
The facility management industry has always evolved and adapted to changes in society and technology. Some of the trends in this space include flexible office spaces and hybrid work models. Along with the implications for employee spaces, fewer people means fewer spaces. Smaller rooms appropriate for ‘hot desking’ and ‘office hoteling’ are at the heart of the renovation. Employees can use any available chair for hot desking, and they can also reserve a workspace.
Many facility managers are using software solutions to assist them in this endeavour. When a room is in use, smart sensors turn on the lights, heating, and air conditioning. Apps are used for energy dashboards to map energy use and suggest where savings can be made. Use of visitor management systems along with seat booking applications will help to reduce paper use, save trees and thus help the climate. Data analytics is becoming increasingly important as technology advances as well. The availability of reliable data on space occupancy, visitor numbers, and consumption trends enables strategic decisions to be made.
Focusing on the health and wellbeing of employees is a key factor. The pandemic has had a significant impact on our workplaces. Prevention efforts to minimise virus spread, such as social distancing, self-testing, contact tracing, and extra cleaning, are measures that are here to stay. The use of temperature scanners, automated sanitizers, and other similar devices provides employees with a sense of comfort about their overall well-being and will continue to be utilised by organisations.
- How is IFM building sustainability and ESG in projects’ endeavours with technology?
Companies now have a much greater responsibility to affect positive change in the environment. This begins with ensuring that they are not wasting energy and are proactively following sustainable practices as outlined in their ESG roadmap. The same is extremely relevant for building owners, operators, and managers because buildings are the source of almost 40% of the world’s carbon emissions.
A number of real estate businesses are fostering ESG leadership in India’s built environment by connecting projects and developing KPIs to evaluate progress toward them. It has greatly decreased energy usage through measures such as the use of energy-efficient lighting and equipment, HVAC system control, and so on.
Setting clear and attainable ESG targets will help reduce operating costs and carbon emissions while also enhancing productivity and overall facility performance. Facilities, real estate, and property managers who want to stay ahead of the game should now prioritise ESG initiatives using appropriate technological solutions. This would enable companies to establish clear KPIs, report on performance to stakeholders, and ensure that their buildings are appealing to both investors and occupiers.