In 2022, as pandemic-related restrictions fluctuated and extreme weather conditions prevailed, facilities managers had to get comfortable with uncertainty. Moving forward into 2023, facilities management will be about adapting to and innovating within the new normal. But what, exactly, will that entail? Here’s a look at some key trends that experts expect in 2023:
1. Sustainability is Non-Negotiable
From ensuring the use of eco-friendly cleaning supplies to reducing a facility’s greenhouse-gas emissions, facilities managers will be on the forefront of the sustainability movement. This means sustainable waste management, cleaning, and facility systems—including HVAC, electrical, and water. Likewise, outdoor spaces will focus on conservation. Customers, employees, contractors, and investors will increasingly expect companies to be stewards of the environment. Sustainability is becoming so important that, to varying degrees, it relates to all of the following trends.
2. Use of Internet of Things Technology (IoT) and Data-Driven Decision Making Will Grow
Already, sensors and smart-connected devices are revolutionizing facilities management. Whether alerting custodial staff when a garbage can needs to be emptied, telling employees what parking spaces are available, monitoring the conditions of machines, to predicting a building’s energy-use patterns, IoT is here to stay. Given the technology’s capacity for gathering huge amounts of data, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that there will be over 41.6 billion connected devices by 2025—many related specifically to facilities management.
3. Hybrid Work and Hybrid Patterns of Facility Usage Will Continue
The hybrid work model isn’t going away. When it comes to a facility, this dynamic will continue to inform everything from custodial staffing hours, to space requirements, to energy usage, to security. With dedicated workstations costing about $8,000 per year, it doesn’t make sense to limit them to one employee who may use it once or twice a week. Sharing desk space, hot desking, and office hoteling will continue. So will hybrid schedules for custodians, front desk operators, and security personnel. To manage this new normal, IoT, as mentioned above, will be key. In fact, the use of occupancy sensors alone will grow markedly in 2023—accruing data on everything from desk occupancy, to meeting room utilization rates, to available capacity by floor.
4. Employee Health and Wellness/Enhanced Cleaning Protocols
Before the pandemic, the focus on employee well-being was already shifting. Increased awareness about the body/mind connection saw businesses prioritizing ergonomics, incorporating outdoor workspaces into their facilities, and promoting a work-life balance. Then came COVID, and enhanced cleaning protocols became imperative with regard to employee health and wellness. This new normal will prevail into 2023 and include the use of disinfectants, frequent cleaning of high-touch spaces and surfaces, and implementation of touchless technologies. What else is trending on the health-in-cleaning front? Building’s inhabitants—employees and customers, alike—increasingly expect green, non-toxic cleaning products. This trend will only grow in 2023.
5. Drought Tolerant Landscaping
Facilities include outdoor spaces and, in the West, this means limiting water usage and incorporating drought-tolerant plants. Gravel, mulch, and hardscapes will continue to gain popularity as well. Metering will be crucial and, in many California cities, county governments are offering rebates to customers who opt to improve their irrigation systems and other water-saving technologies.
6. Asset Management/Retro-Commissioning
A facility’s systems don’t last forever. And where there’s wear and tear, there’s inefficiency. When it comes to buildings and facilities, poor operational efficiency usually means negative environmental impact. In fact, buildings are responsible for 40 percent of the world’s annual Co2 emissions. Recommissioning (for previously commissioned buildings) and retro-commissioning (for buildings that have never been commissioned) will gain popularity. Already, energy companies like Pacific Gas and Electric are offering retro-commissioning incentives and rebates to qualified companies. Even our nation’s Capital is making use of retro-commissioning—to the tune of a 48 percent decrease in building-related greenhouse gas on the Capitol campus. Expect this trend to expand in the coming year.
7. Focus on Energy Savings as a Cost-Reduction Measure
While sustainability will drive the need for energy saving at a facilities level, so will soaring inflation. Planned preventative maintenance, data gained through computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), and IoT functions will significantly impact a facility manager’s ability to strategize the best energy-savings measures for the buck.