Managing facilities is being revolutionised by the emergence of technologies like near field communication sensors, smart surveillance and AI-driven automation. As these innovations tend to impact the processes and operations, the outcome that the workforces are trying to achieve are also being redefined. Cleaning, for instance, is now about more than physical labour and attention to detail. Similarly, maintenance is about more than replacing malfunctioning infrastructure. The latest generation of technology is giving workforces the means to be part of a coherent and big picture vision of services.
Building management is returning to a people-centric focus. The industry is getting back to the basics and serving occupants, rather than merely managing the physical infrastructure. This new paradigm is an evolution from the simplistic, and purely functional, approach of yesteryear. A cleaning workforce or a security guard can add more value than the designated task by simply reorienting towards providing a seamless experience, with minimal disruption and inconvenience to customers.
So, why should technology be part of this vision?
- Because customer experience is now the key differentiator in any service industry, and facilities management is no different. Occupants expect real-time and responsive facilities, and creating a seamless experience is the most effective path to gaining a competitive advantage.
- Because empowering human capital can yield discernible primary and secondary benefits for Commercial Real Estate (CRE) owners and FM organisations. The idea is to go beyond targeting improved productivity to heightened customer satisfaction and limiting complaints. And, technology is helping with that.
- Because when it comes to FM, customer experience extends to the entire building experience for tenants and visitors. It includes the entire gamut of services like security, cleaning and other support services, to hardware performance of air-conditioning, lights, lifts and watersupply, etc.
On the other hand, when it comes to soft services, technology can leverage the operational advantages for an enhanced customer experience. In turn, the resulting positive perceptions drive the value of the property, higher occupancy rates, brand value and several related parameters. These secondary effects might be less than specific metrics, but they result in the generation of tangible and gamechanging value for CREs.
Going further, technology can easily identify opportunities to improve outcomes by tweaking performance indices, floor routes or inventory. It gives supervisors a tool that enables broader analysis and real-time control over their workforces. Automated workforce management and scheduling of tasks reduces paperwork and allows greater optimal operating efficiencies and time management. FM operations can leverage connectivity to integrate with mobile apps, creating a more seamless experience. Technology helps in monitoring and meeting audit and compliance requirements in performance. Furthermore, technology also enables the automation of workforce management, giving supervisors the ability to easily administer task allocation, shifts and staff communications. Data-led insights help distribute workload and optimal assignment of staff between areas that require more attention. They also help in ensuring higher standards of hygiene and efficient facilities management in high-traffic zones.
Apart from all the advantages technology has to offer, it also empowers people, allows them to work more intelligently, to look beyond their ‘functional’ role, and start adding value to their interaction with customers and create ‘delightful’ experiences for them. It does impacts employee engagement positively leading to higher productivity and streamlined operations thus resulting in greater job satisfaction. On the other hand, mobile connectivity and app-based integration result in greater transparency of processes and improved accountability.
Technology is the perfect tool for FM companies to organise their workforces around. The combination of empowered employees and augmented processes with unified and agile control can deliver an immaculate and seamless experience for end users.
Prabhu Ramachandran is the founder and CEO of Facilio Inc. Headquartered in Atlanta (US) with operations in India, Middle East and USA, Facilio is a facilities optimisation platform that harnesses IoT and AI to drive real-time operational efficiency across real-estate portfolios.