Computer-Aided Facilities Management As The Key To Agility

A man working on a computer Insight from Karl Breeze, CEO at Matrix Booking.

The role of a Facility Manager has become a whole lot more complicated over the past couple of years. Digital technologies are changing the way real estate functions and facilities are used, and workplace professionals’ ability to keep up with these changes is critical to the overall success of an organisation.

Historically, Facilities Management has been the human oil in the physical engine of an organisation, but it has also been the designer, the engineer and the mechanic. The problem with that is, like all resources in an organisation, Facilities Management’s resources are limited.

So the more time Facilities Managers spend playing the role of oil and mechanic, the less time they have to be the designer and engineer. This means Facilities Managers have often been stuck dealing with symptoms of systemic problems, instead of having time to tackle their root causes. And as we’ve seen since 2020, this is not enabling organisations to be flexible and react quickly to a changed reality of working.

CAFM To The Rescue

This is where computer-aided facilities management (CAFM) comes in.

By taking care of repeatable and time-consuming tasks that no longer require a human interface, Facilities Managers get time back to spend designing and engineering facilities to service staff and their individual needs.

Where a few years back, we’ve been watching organisations lightly experiment with CAFM, the events of the past two years have pushed many into a full adoption.

No longer do Facilities Managers need to play gatekeeper to rooms, desks or shared equipment – staff can see for themselves which resources are available and when, then book, cancel and rebook without wasting anyone else’s time.

Access to a visual picture of historic resource usage means that Facilities Managers can more easily predict organisational needs in the future, providing invaluable insight in today’s business world.

An Eye Into The Future

Furthermore, predictions can be made more accurate using the latest in sensor technology, which records the actual occupancy of rooms and desks, which is typically somewhat different from planned occupancy. This information empowers Facilities Managers to ensure that increasing demand is met, and spending on resources is reduced if demand for space or equipment drops off.

The data detailing future resource usage bookings, provided by workplace management software, means that Facilities Managers can also tackle problems before they arise. What’s more, live resource usage data, enhanced with occupancy sensors, enables Facilities Managers to identify completely unforeseeable problems created by unpredictable human behaviour, as soon as they arise, then devise and implement solutions before anyone has picked up the phone to ask for help.

CAFM also yields data to inform every step of companies’ real estate reassessments. In this day and age, utilisation and occupancy data should absolutely form the basis of vital insight for decision-makers tasked with reviewing and rightsizing the organisation’s real estate.

Managing The Flow

Today, as the entire economy continues to adjust to substantial changes in workplace behaviour, IT tools are being developed to support new guidelines, to keep people safe, provide reassurance and maximise existing real-estate.

New flow management solutions address an organisation’s ability to manage the flow of people to and through buildings, avoiding overcrowding and enabling physical distancing in communal areas. They enable users to manage their visits to the office by utilising the same familiar, intuitive applications as experienced with meeting room and desk booking. Users can schedule their arrival time, desk and meeting rooms via a mobile app before they even leave the comfort of their home giving them control, comfort and confidence.

Using an appropriate flow management technology, any workplace professional can keep their team safe by managing occupancy levels, including contact tracking in their buildings or campuses.

With many organisations still negotiating the movement between working from home and working from the office, new solutions will be required. Some are already obvious but some are unforeseeable and it will be a task testing the organisation’s ability to develop software and solve problems quickly and cost effectively.

To prepare for this, Facilities Managers need to know how to utilise data for occupancy requirements and regulations, which rely on real-time management, in order to move towards creating agile workspaces that can be adapted to suit the hybrid workforce.

Computer-Aided Facilities Management As The Key To Agility