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Ease the pressure

Apr 8, 2024 | Public | 0 comments

James Massey, Managing Director of Facilities Management at MRI Software, looks at the challenging workloads FM professionals face, and the benefits to them of deploying tech

 

FMs juggle a myriad of responsibilities. In addition to maintenance and repair, they increasingly need to provide more visible cleaning services, manage budgets and projects, improve communication with tenants and contractors, ensure health and safety compliance, find energy cost savings, champion sustainability, and track data and records in all these areas.

In light of these challenges, the strategic deployment of technology emerges as a beacon of hope, offering solutions to streamline workflows and alleviate the burden on FM professionals.

A recent survey of 750 European FM professionals conducted by MRI Software, sheds light on the pressing issues faced by this group. MRI’s Voice of the Facility Manager reveals that, alarmingly, 70 per cent of respondents admit to working beyond their contracted hours, with over a third (40 per cent) putting in at least 10 additional hours per week – and over one in 10 (12 per cent) putting in more than 20 extra hours weekly.

Only 16 per cent of those surveyed say they feel their workload is just right, with close to half (48 per cent) feeling it is “busy” or “far too busy”. While workloads have increased for the vast majority of FM professionals, just 30 per cent say their budgets have increased and 24 per cent reported that they have stayed the same.

Given the staggering workload faced by many FMs, with most budgets remaining tight, it comes as little surprise that mental health emerges as the paramount challenge, with 39 per cent of respondents identifying it as a critical issue.

POSITIVE POTENTIAL OF TECHNOLOGY

In the face of this emerging workload challenge and its impact on FMs, technology is emerging as a transformative force, offering digital tools to enhance efficiency, harness data, monitor buildings, manage energy usage, and predict maintenance needs.

The survey underscores FMs’ growing recognition of technology as a vital ally in their quest for efficiency and productivity. Thirty per cent of respondents view new technology and digital disruption as an opportunity, while an additional 20 per cent consider them essential to embrace. Similarly, advanced data analysis and cloud-based data collection are perceived as key enablers, with 30 per cent of respondents identifying them as opportunities and 20 per cent as essential to adopt.

The report highlights a significant shift in FM professionals’ attitudes towards technology adoption.

This shift suggests the industry’s readiness to embrace technological innovation as a means of navigating the complexities of modern facilities management.

Key findings from the survey further underscore the evolving FM technology landscape, showing a shift to new technologies that are helping reduce workloads and improve the outlook for FM professionals:

  • Over half (54 per cent) of respondents believe that FM will increasingly involve tech-enabled tools over the next five years, signalling a paradigm shift towards digitalisation.
  • Over a third (35 per cent) of FM professionals have invested in artificial intelligence (AI) or automation software in the last 18 months, reflecting a growing appetite for cutting-edge solutions.
  • 37 per cent have invested in user-friendly apps for end users to log their requests in the previous 18 months.
  • Over half (52 per cent) of participants say they are provided with sufficient training to keep up to speed with current technology trends.

The report reveals that two-thirds (67 per cent) of the FM professionals surveyed are considering changing or adopting new FM software, with 38 per cent saying their aim is to boost efficiency and productivity. All respondents report using technology in some form, and 31 per cent say they are employing multiple systems. These include FM software (56 per cent), contractor management software (40 per cent), visitor management software (37 per cent), incident reporting software (37 per cent), and leasing software (33 per cent).

There are still, however, areas where technology needs to make greater inroads to boost efficiencies that will relieve high workloads and offer more flexibility. Despite these trends towards innovative FM technologies, adoption of more sophisticated solutions is low in some quarters, with 13 per cent of respondents still using spreadsheets, an additional 12 per cent using a combination of software and spreadsheets, and eight per cent using no IT tools at all. Overall, 31 per cent say they are only somewhat satisfied with their technology solutions, and 17 per cent say they are somewhat dissatisfied.

TOWARD A BETTER-BALANCED FUTURE

The findings of MRI Software’s Voice of the Facility Manager survey offer valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities facing FM professionals in today’s fast-paced environment. While heavy workloads and mental health concerns loom large, technology presents a pathway towards greater efficiency, productivity, and wellbeing.

Seeing conditions improve with the aid of technology will enhance the outlook for FM professionals. Despite the challenges posed by heavy workloads and the need to continue investing in FM technologies that improve the situation, 60 per cent of respondents maintain a positive work-life balance, indicating resilience and adaptability within the FM community.

By embracing digital tools and harnessing the power of data, FMs can not only ease the pressure of their current workload but also futureproof their roles in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. As the FM industry continues to evolve, maintaining a strong focus on work-life balance and wellbeing will be crucial in attracting talent, fostering growth, and delivering value to organisations worldwide.

www.mrisoftware.com/ae/resources/vofm-emea-report

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