The 2019 outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus took the world by storm, resulting in an economic crisis that teetered on the edge of a full-blown recession. All around the globe, organisations were forced to re-invent the way they functioned, shuttering physical workspaces temporarily to make way for remote-working.
However, with the dawn of a new year, a promising vaccine on the horizon, and discoveries related to the transmission of the virus, organisations are taking their first steps towards resuming functionality in the ‘New Normal’. Workplaces and manufacturing facilities are now adhering to strict EHS guidelines to ensure that all safety and hygiene best practices are followed.
Employee experience and collaboration at work have increasingly gained significance over the past decade. As people begin resuming work from the offices, companies will need to employ the right technology, policies and processes to ensure that their facilities can enable collaboration and innovation while ensuring that EHS standards at the facility are not compromised.
The need for a holistic solution, that demands a good workplace experience, keeping in mind heightened EHS standards at reasonable costs, has never been more pressing. The answer lies in tech-enabled, Integrated Facilities Management Solutions.
The global Facility Management (FM) market is undergoing a massive reinvention, powered by innovations in technology and data management. Technology implementation and Environmental Social Governance (ESG) are becoming increasingly important factors in the FM market, with industry leaders such as Facility Management service providers in the UK ensuring the highest level of ESG standards at their facilities.
Since physical contact is the primary source of transmission of the Coronavirus disease, a major point of consideration for organisations is to ensure that all functions at the workplace are contactless.
This is not an impossible ask, thanks to innovations in Contactless Technologies. Contactless technologies can be segregated into two categories, namely, Interactive Contactless Technologies and Passive Contactless Technologies.
While Interactive Contactless Technologies, such as hand-wave sanitiser dispensers and QR code enabled processes management have been widely implemented in the global FM space, Passive Contactless Technology have witnessed more advancement recently.
To ensure that a facility is safe and healthy for employee traffic, it is vital to understand how and when the space is used, and what impact this has upon the space itself – this is achieved through data collection on everything from indoor air quality to sanitation and cleaning rotations.
Passive Contactless Technologies allow for companies to gather this data without the need for any employee engagement, affording them the ability to record a full profile of the happenings of their spaces, and adapting them for future improvements.
Interactive Contactless Technologies, such as scannable QR codes, which went out of style a few years ago in the US for technical issues ranging from optimisation to spam, are making a comeback in the market today, owing to technological advances and their no-touch appeal. The QR Code 2.0 is an improvement on its predecessor, allowing for the code to be read efficiently even if printed on a curved surface or distorted by a reading angle, by referring to an alignment pattern embedded within them.
The rising popularity of Food Tech services in large facilities can also be attributed to advances in technology owing to the pressures of the pandemic, with the growing appeal of a contactless food ordering service that allows for employees to place orders via an app from their desks and pick them up from the canteen when ready, eliminating queues and streamlining the process for administrators, vendors, and employees alike.
From IoT (Internet of Things) to Artificial Intelligence, broader innovations in technology have already established their presence in FM. Let’s look at a few of them in greater detail:
The data generated through IoT is capable of assisting FM teams in increasing efficiency. For example, data collection can help prevent maintenance issues, including identifying problems with machinery in advance, improving productivity, and saving on time taken for regular maintenance operations. While the cost of creating and maintaining a platform for analysing IoT is high, the future for IoT is promising, with lower-cost trends paving the way for greater integration.
Implementation of IoT devices will allow facility managers to use AI and machine learning in the future. Buildings can be made more self-sufficient by using AI, however, we are yet to see advancements in AI related to FM take off globally.
Automation is making waves in industries across niches, and FM is no exception. Streamlining functions such as sanitation, visitor management and reception services, advances in modern robotics have seen the introduction of cleaning robots on shop floors, and in offices, functioning as receptionists. While the need for physical manpower might never be replaced, the introduction of robotics in the FM space minimizes the need for human intervention, thereby reducing long-term costs and generating quantitative data on the functioning of the facility.
The value of facial recognition systems in access control and time attendance cannot be understated in the era of Covid-19, allowing for a touch-free system of visitor access and data collection. Powered by advances in deep learning technology, facial recognition terminals ensure tighter security, while also improving access control efficiency overall.
Facility Management software allows for the capturing and analysing of data across various verticals, related to the performance of both employees, as well as equipment and machinery.
To integrate the use of technology to improve overall service delivery, SILA has invested in a customized facility management software called ‘SILA Connect’, allowing operating teams and clients to optimise and monitor service delivery through the cloud.
This platform streamlines several functions, by capturing real-time attendance data, generating invoices and aiding payroll processes, while also tracking monthly individual performance. SILA Connect also captures data and analytics related to training, operations, machinery performance and equipment maintenance, and provides in-depth analytics and insights with regards to site performance, client feedback, and training needs.
While the past twelve months have been challenging for Facility Management service providers, the New Normal promises a bright future in the form of contactless facilities, with Big Data, and advanced connectivity driving efficiency for both service suppliers and clients.