Facility Managers Required to Take Action for Work Style Reform

The role of a facility manager (FM) has changed over time. Their principle duty is, of course, facility management, but they will need to play a more complex role in order to keep up with changes in society, including the “work style reform”and technological advancement that many companies are promoting.

May 29, 2018

FM market seeing steady growth

It appears that the globalization of facility management is finally hitting its stride. The first facility management international standards—ISO 41011 and ISO 41012—were issued in April 2017, and the certification standards ISO 41001, Facility Management - Management Systems - Requirements with Guidance for Use, is set to be issued this fiscal year. These standards specify terms and definitions related to facility management and items necessary for providing facility services and so on, and present global guidelines for assessing the quality of services. Global standards for FMs have been set.

Following the development of these standards, the global facility management market is seeing steady growth. It is expected that the market’s size will grow to roughly 700 billion USD by 2020, and then to a trillion USD sometime between 2025 and 2030. Although the biggest facility management market is currently Europe and North America, it is expected that demand for FMs in the Asia-Pacific region will increase more than ever. While over 60% of facility management projects in North America are outsourced, that is only the case in about 30% of facility management projects in the Asia-Pacific region—that’s a huge gap.

Changes in the social landscape impact facility management

In the past decade, the core undertakings of FMs have remained the same: facility management and cost management that comes with administrative services. However, facility management is closely related to law revisions taking place all over the world and global business trends, and the rapidly changing social landscape is having a huge impact on the field. JLL has compared the latest trends in facility management using the International Facility Management Association’s Exploring the Current Trends and Future Outlook reports published in 2007 and 2011, and found that the roles required of FMs have changed significantly in the past ten years. In Japan, the population is aging at a particularly high speed, and it is predicted that people age 65 or older will make up one-third of the country’s total population by 2050. There is also a need for action regarding deteriorated facilities and infrastructure that were built during the rapid economic growth. Facility management has been evolving to accommodate the needs of aging human resources and material resources alike for about a decade. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, the focus shifted to developing BCPs for buildings and ensuring safety. Changes will not stop there: effective use of technology will encourage the further evolution of facility management. Facility managers will be required to collect data and present ideas for making next-generation work styles a reality. From cost management to ensuring safety, and now even improving the comfort level of work spaces, the roles that a facility manager needs to play have advanced.

Utilizing technology is the key

The roles that FMs are expected to play can be roughly divided into three groups—roles related to sustainability, technology, and work style reform and wellness, the lattermost of which has been a hot topic as of late. Sustainability has always been a requirement in facility management. Now, FMs are expected to transform facilities to keep up with developments in other industries—for example, making it easier to commute by bicycle, and installing charging stations for electric vehicles. Facility managers also need to streamline the facility management system using new software. Increasing the efficiency of work style requires technology, too. The defining example is smart buildings and smart cities, in which any and all facility data is collected using IoT sensors and other technologies, and will be used for workplace reform with the goal of achieving good quality of working life, and workplace development to boost employee satisfaction levels. When a facility manager suggests these actions to take, they first need to accumulate data to make the problems clearly visible. Otherwise, they will not be able to obtain consent from their clients. The large amounts of data collected can also be used for optimizing the use of meeting rooms and adjusting the amount of leased floor area and so on. Many companies have already started implementing work style reform, and work spaces are becoming more diversified.

To achieve work style reform

Over the last ten years, what is required of an FM has greatly shifted. What roles will FMs be expected to play in the future? They are likely to be significantly influenced by technological evolution, as well. Forecasts say that, by 2020, 80% of the world population will have a smartphone, and that big data obtained with IoT will make up half of data transmissions in 2025. With the use of VR and AR, and practical realization of automatic translation technology on the horizon, by 2030, people won’t be working in their own offices, but in coworking spaces and satellite offices, and demand for these flexible work spaces is expected to increase. Facility managers who are involved in workplace projects should always be thinking of what ideas they can offer to keep up with these changes.

Innovative global companies in other counties have already collected facility management data and established a process for operational optimization, but Japanese companies are falling behind. They first and foremost need to make visible the current state of facility management and understand what it faces. Facility management falls under asset management, and its budgets are likely to increase by as much as a few billion yen. The top management is required to commit to improve asset efficiency on a company level.

Though a facility manager can start projects at their own discretion in Europe and North America, where individualism rules, Japanese companies have a deep-seated culture of top-down decision-making. It is not often that a voice for reform will rise from a worksite. An outside facility manager may propose changes in workplaces and systems, but things will not change. Creating a sense of involvement for employees will be the first step toward achieving work style reform.