The pandemic has fundamentally changed our expectations regarding the workplace. Following months of home-working, people are now ready to return to the office or embrace a hybrid set-up. A survey from the Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM) revealed that office attendance is expected to recover in 2022, with 60% of respondents saying they will return full-time this year and a further 23% at least three days a week.
Employers are rapidly rethinking the set-up of the workplace to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their teams is protected. Despite the Covid vaccine roll-out reducing the risk of further lockdowns and social distancing measures, organisations must still address the possibility of future pandemics in their office design. Areas that require attention include:
Ventilation. All enclosed spaces require adequate ventilation. While older offices can do this naturally by opening windows or doors, newer offices have to install or bolster mechanical ventilation in the form of fans, ducts, or both.
Sanitisation. The pandemic highlighted the speed at which viruses can spread, which means high-touch areas need to be adequately cleaned at regular intervals. Additionally, hand sanitisation posts throughout the workplace are set to become a permanent feature to help protect workers from infections.
Distancing. Employers are more conscious than ever that staff should remain at a safe distance from one another. While the strict two-metre rule is unlikely to continue, office layouts are being revisited to ensure workers can pass each other easily and communal areas, like kitchen facilities and meeting spaces, do not get too congested. Furthermore, employees coming into contact with multiple people, such as reception staff, may continue to have protective screens surrounding their workspace.
The impact on FMs
With approaches to on-site working shifting dramatically, the FM sector has had to adapt and evolve accordingly. Now more than ever, FMs must take on many roles to oversee all aspects of the workplace and ensure the highest health and safety standards are met.
Here are some of the key trends shaping the FM sector in 2022:
Focus on occupancy
Pre-pandemic, FMs managed space in square metres, but this has now shifted to focus on occupancy levels. It’s imperative for FMs to effectively manage peaks and troughs, ensuring safety isn’t compromised. This involves communicating the maximum number of people allowed in each workplace area, defining safe routes for entering and leaving and navigating high traffic areas like lifts, escalators, and stairs.
Motion sensors and monitoring
Many organisations are opting for a hybrid work set-up, which makes occupancy planning more challenging. FMs need to adapt to new flexible working patterns to ensure lighting, HVAC systems, and cleaning schedules provide maximum comfort for those in the building. Conversely, they must make sure energy is not wasted when occupancy is low.
The use of motion sensors is set to increase in 2022, particularly when it comes to lighting and heating/air conditioning. It becomes trickier with cleaning, with FMs required to continually monitor occupancy rates over time to arrange optimal cleaning schedules.
There’s nothing new about predictive maintenance, but the pandemic highlighted the need for organisations to minimise business disruption and avoid unexpected costs. FMs are increasingly required to utilise AI and IoT technology connected to a building’s assets to quickly identify when maintenance is necessary for optimal performance.
Not everything can be planned or predicted. Covid-19 measures could be reintroduced with little warning, which means organisations must be prepared to respond accordingly. As we move towards some semblance of normality in 2022, FMs will be called upon to evaluate what went well over the last two years and where improvements can be made in the event of circumstances changing quickly.
Your FM Recruitment Partner
PRS partners with organisations in multiple sectors across the UK, helping them recruit talent for a broad range of roles in FM and building services. If you’re looking to add skilled FM professionals to your team, PRS can help. Drop us a line on 0207 553 5660 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.