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What's new for 2023?

11 January 2023

Settle down with a cup of tea for a long read as we take a look at the trends expected to affect facilities management in 2023...

2022 was a turbulent year. It began with the UK still in lockdown, and as the country opened up, the long-term economic fallout from the pandemic began to be felt, exacerbated by supply chain issues caused by the new war in Ukraine, and Brexit. As energy prices soared, so did inflation, causing headaches for businesses across the country – and at the same time, the ‘Great Resignation’ was in full swing, as employees quit their jobs and even left the workplace altogether in search of a better work-life balance. 

We ended the year with hybrid working “the new normal” – at least among knowledge workers – and with recession nipping at the British economy. 

While staffing and supply chain issues may have made 2022 a trickier year than most, the facilities management sector often considers itself fairly resilient and even relatively recession-proof, due to the essential frontline nature of the work – but will this still be the case going into 2023? What are the trends – and challenges – that are likely to dominate the sector over the next year? 

Sustainability

One of the key themes in FM during 2022 was sustainability, notably the drive towards Net Zero – and it seems that this isn’t so much a trend as a permanent fixture in the business landscape. “Increasingly, customers and employees want to work with companies that demonstrate a commitment to becoming carbon neutral,” said Stephen Peal, Managing Director of Managing Director of the YorPower Group.

For YorPower, for example, this has meant teaming up with Alan Stenson, CEO of neutral carbon zone). The two have been working closely as YorPower begins its journey to achieving Net Zero. The platform developed by neutral carbon zone helps companies like YorPower to identify and report on their carbon footprint – both organisationally and operationally, across scopes 1, 2 and 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It also enables supply chain emissions to be reported on to promote collaboration across all workstreams.

The next step is to establish and share the carbon footprint of YorPower Group’s services, and to include a price for carbon offsetting in quotations. This would enable the business to support its customers as they began their own decarbonisation journeys. 

Mr Peal added: “Our message is ‘watch this space’, as we will soon be announcing a new future-proofed model that will be focused on meeting or surpassing our environmental, social and governance objectives.”

Staffing

Like all industry sectors, FM struggled with staffing issues in 2022 as a result of ‘The Great Resignation’ and Britain’s decision to leave the EU. The industry also faces the challenge of attracting young people into the sector – and as a result, looking at ways of improving the employee experience could be one of the key trends in 2023. 

“For our industry, education is at the heart of the problem,” said Andrew Wood, CEO of property specialists DMA Group. “Unless people are attracted in volume to FM from schools, colleges and universities we will not see a step change in the quality of what we do. And ‘FM’ means every element of the business from being on the tools to developing new technology to environmental innovation.

“Technology will make us more efficient and profitable for a while, but if we’re going to sustainably push FM up the hierarchy of respected, desirable professions we need structural change on the ‘people’ side of the equation.

“Ours is a complex world. To me, BIM is an amazing concept and a step in the right direction to solving complex problems. Hopefully this sort of visionary thinking will go further, into government policy and ultimately into the curriculum.”

Compliance

The regulatory landscape is set to change in 2023 – notably with the introduction of the Fire Safety (England) Regulations on 23 January, which have integrated a number of the recommendations from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase I. A spokesperson for PTSG, a major provider of niche specialist services to the UK’s construction and FM sectors, told PFM: “Regulations made under Article 24 can impose requirements on responsible persons in relation to mitigating the risk to residents for specific premises. 

“The Fire Safety Order applies to all premises including workplaces and the common parts of all multi-occupied residential buildings. It already requires responsible persons, where necessary, to take certain steps to ensure the safety of residents. 

“Premier Technical Services Group Ltd (PTSG) works with Duty Holders to ensure their buildings are compliant and their fire safety assets are up to date and able to protect building users in the event of a fire.”

Energy

Ways of reducing energy usage are also likely to dominate the FM agenda in 2023. But what else can facilities managers expect? Four leading industry figures gave their view…

“Recessionary pressures will affect many organisations”
Alistair Craig, Managing Director, Anabas

“This year has entailed a lot of watching and learning in terms of corporate real estate strategy. 2023 will see a shift to action. Decisions will need to be taken about real estate based on what clients want their workspaces to deliver for their employees. 

“2023 will see recessionary pressures which will affect many organisations. Facilities managers will need to work closely with clients to manage cost constraints and the reduced numbers of employees in the workplace. Ultimately, 2023 could see a reduction in floor plates, leases permitting. 

“FMs will need to offer solutions about how to deliver value from workplace outside of the Tuesday to Thursday mid-week peak. This will mean being flexible around service delivery with a demand driven approach. If occupancy peaks on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, offices should be fully resourced to deliver a great office experience. However, there’s no need for the same level of resourcing on a Monday & Friday, for example. 

“From an occupant perspective, service expectations will be very business-to-consumer led as opposed to traditional business-like expectations of the past, with a much higher demand for a ‘right-first-time’ quality environment. FMs will need to ensure that the office really works for individuals spending their time and the cost of a train ticket to use it. 

“Technology will further fuel action. IoT tech is a powerful tool to help achieve demand driven adaptability. IoT sensors that monitor usage and footfall will be key for delivering effective on-demand services such as cleaning. 

“Furthermore, employers still have a duty of care to staff working from home so FM services will expand to cover a greater geography.” 

“The UK FM market will experience rapid transformation”
Jeremy Campbell, Executive Director, Marketing and Business Development at EMCOR UK

“Technology is arguably the biggest game changer in the world of FM. Artificial Intelligence, deep machine learning and SMART cognitive technology is enabling amazing opportunities. Coupled with global economic pressure, geopolitical tensions, rising costs in living and the looming recession, the UK FM market will experience rapid transformation. 

“Data analytics will drive new FM business models producing insight, knowledge and intelligence. SMART connected workplaces integrated with people and systems will give rise to new digital FM roles. Disruptive transformation will result in B2B collaboration generating investment and creating technology value propositions that address climate change, the Global Sustainability Goals and positively support wellbeing.

“Workplace experience, hybrid working and the war for talent, all major trends spilling over from Covid-19, are forcing organisations to offer flexible ways of working and ensure workplace design is imaginative, biophilic, inclusive and diverse. This will drive FM to focus on strategic outcomes, people engagement, wellness and human performance. 

“Sustainable business, the circular economy and ESG will continue to grow and disrupt the world of work. FM will undergo a paradigm shift; less about cleaning and maintenance services and significantly more about delivering holistic organisational transformation, workplace cultural change and cloud-hosted analytics which optimise the workplace experience, whole-life asset performance and deliver value across every dimension.   

“Simply put, FM of the future will be about sustainably improving every aspect of business performance, workplace performance and personalised user experience, delivering a legacy of positive impacts for business, people, local communities, and life on our planet.”

“More facilities will invest in onsite renewable energy”
Alex Hunter, CEO, Sherwood Power

“Amid growing concerns about energy security and the ongoing rise in energy prices, we’re expecting to see more facilities choosing to invest in onsite renewable energy in 2023. This involves installing sources of renewable energy generation (e.g. wind, solar, bio-gas) and storage, at the location it is actually used. More and more businesses are beginning to explore the benefits of having their own supply of energy, so that they are less reliant on the National Grid. 

“There are a number of things that facilities managers need to consider when investing in onsite renewable energy. The type of energy generation and how you will back it up both need to be decided, as does the ideal storage capacity and duration are for your needs. There are also logistical issues that need addressing, such as any planning requirements, whether the cables and infrastructure on your site are large enough to carry the new load and where you can locate your energy generation and storage safely.

“Finally, there are the financial considerations: is this a capital purchase or are you looking for a fully financed solution? What is your current electricity contract and when does it expire? What are your current capacity (kW) limits and what will you want in the future to allow for business growth? Working through these considerations can take time (and it can be helpful to seek impartial professional advice to work through all of these questions). But by doing so, facilities managers can benefit from lower energy costs - and improved sustainability - long-term.” 

“Recession and inflation will affect both demands and costs”
James Fiske, Chief Executive Officer, BCIS

“The facilities management market will be affected by the difficulties in the UK economy over the next couple of years. A recession and double-digit inflation will affect both demand and costs. Maintenance demand, which has grown in 2021 and 2022, is expected to decline over the remainder of the forecast period (to the second quarter of 2026. 

“Maintenance, cleaning and other staff costs will be driven by higher wages in the short term and energy prices are subject to global forces.

“Facilities management services are very labour-intensive, and availability and cost of staff will be a major challenge. Restricted availability will drive higher costs. The provision of maintenance, cleaning, catering, security, reception and porters have historically used a lot of workers from EU and Eastern Europe, many of these went home during the lockdown and have not returned following Brexit, so recruitment and training will be an ongoing challenge. The underlying cost of labour is likely to see double digit increases with inflation at over 10% and the National Living Wage set to rise 9.7% in April 2023.

"The BCIS forecast is for maintenance costs to rise 8% in 2022 and 6% in 2023, while cleaning costs will rise 8% in 2022 and 9% in 2023.

"The other major challenge will be uncertainty over energy supply and prices.”


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