As a result of recent developments in technology, offices and workplaces are being transformed into digitised, connected environments.
From Virtual Reality to the Internet of Things (IoT); new systems and products are being deployed to improve productivity and maximise efficiency.
Four tech trends stand out in particular because of their utility as tools for empowering decision making in facilities management by facilitating communication and data communication (indeed, it is instructive to consider how each can be integrated with an organisation's existing systems to deliver advantage).
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things (IoT) has become a much buzzed about phrase in recent years and refers to the interconnection of various devices, people, environments and processes on a single network via embedded sensors and cloud-based software. The IoT provides the framework for a smarter and more efficient working environment that constantly adapts to employee needs. It is definitely an advancement to keep an eye on as it is fast becoming a business norm.
Sensors are now a major component of modern-day facilities management as they can be used to connect to responsive products and optimise working environments. Usually enabled to send data directly to facilities management software, they provide real-time information about different aspects of the indoor environment - as well as alerts when maintenance is required.
As sensor technologies decrease in price we will see them becoming more widely used. But what can they actually do in practice?
- Motion sensors help organise workspace layouts by providing data on utilisation patterns and the movement of traffic within a facility. By detecting whether or not a space is being used, they can be integrated with energy control systems to save electricity by turning off lights.
- Reactive heat sensors are used to monitor temperatures within a space and connected to HVAC systems to control temperature and humidity levels.
- Light sensors are increasingly used to improve the ambiance of the indoor environment by operating lighting and electrically operated blinds.
- IoT sensors are also revolutionising security in the workplace as closed-circuit television (CCTV) video-streams and motion sensors can both be connected to smartphones. Microsoft recently even unveiled an automated door that unlocks itself by using facial recognition software.
Market Networks combine the benefits of a social network with a walled marketplace to improve communication and the profile of a particular industry.
As new jobs can be added at any time in facilities management, innovative job management software and market networks enable facility managers to stay abreast of scheduling. Jobs will typically be logged on-the-go in real-time across various devices.
Many networks (including my own, Okappy) also provide clients with access to a secure digital archive of all jobs that have already been inputted on the system - which allows clients to save valuable time.
Mobile Workforce and Task Tracking
It is now more crucial than ever to keep track of projects and employee workflows as office decentralisation and flexible working environments are on the rise.
As demand for more flexible working practices increases, more and more organisations are offering the option of working remotely. Facilities Managers frequently find themselves managing multiple employees and subcontractors at any given time; whose often diverse locations (both on- and off- site), make traffic location monitoring systems invaluable.
By keeping an eye on technology, organisations can develop more efficient and streamlined process for facilities management teams, and save clients money and resources at the same time.