Faces of Facilities

Faces of Facilities: FMs Highlight 2024 Opportunities

In Part 1 of this two-parter on industry predictions, former “Faces of Facilities” guests forecast the top challenges of 2024. That was the bad news. Now here’s the good news: Opportunities abound!

For Part 2, industry insiders were asked to identify the No. 1 opportunity for facilities managers in the new year and offer advice on how to benefit from it. Technology and people emerged as two major themes, but each respondent had different tips to share.

Amber Gratkowski, Central Campus facilities manager at the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission:

“The biggest opportunity is the technology we have at our fingertips. They have HVAC systems that adjust to occupancy, space planning tools that customers can check in to a cubicle or office before entering the building, and even robots that clean your buildings or cut the grounds. Essentially, with the technology that is out there, your entire building could be automated and controlled on your phone or computer screen.”

Dave Irvin, former AVP for facilities at Florida State University, new executive director of construction at Auburn University, and international chair for education facilities group APPA:

“Our biggest challenge is also our biggest opportunity—our people, our team. Despite a labor shortage, the next generation of facilities people are the most talented, creative, and inclusive in history. They long to make a difference with a career, not just a job. With the right support, we can craft a true sense of belonging that can tackle any issues the future holds!”

Alana F. Dunoff, IFMA Fellow, owner/strategic facility planner of AFD Professional Services, and adjunct professor in Temple University’s Facility Management Program:

“Technology in FM is booming, and perhaps one of the biggest opportunities might come from artificial intelligence (AI). How can you use AI to complete simple or mundane tasks, freeing up your staff for more mission-critical work? I encourage you to explore opportunities to learn how to best utilize AI to streamline tasks and processes. And if you are successful, share it with the rest of us!”

Darin Rose, IFMA Fellow and director of director of facility services for the Credit Union of Colorado:

“We are in a pivotal and transitional time for the built environment. ‘Work’ used to be a noun, a place people go to, but it is now considered a verb, an activity people do. They don’t want to just work from home or just from the office. Community is strengthened, and creativity is developed when people engage with other humans face to face. Facilities managers can and should take the lead to be creative in the engineering world, to be the person/department to deliver engaging interactions to the workforce. And who better since FMs are typically the workforce that is on-site most of the time?

With our new headquarters, we have food trucks that come out 1-2 times per month and vary the food cultures. We have a fitness center on-site and have scheduled a physical trainer to come in at no charge to help the employees train with them in groups and individually. We also have plans to bring in an instructor of Improv to help people develop cross-departmental connections in a fun environment.”

Bobby R. LaRon, senior commercial property manager with CBRE and immediate past chair of the IFMA Americas Advisory Board:

“The biggest opportunity for FMs in 2024 is to anchor their digital transformation journey into a user-centric paradigm, where the FMs not only enhance the efficiency and sustainability of their operations but also create environments that foster positive experiences and well-being for all who inhabit and interact within the space. Be a place maker!”

Carolyn McGary, national director of FM Pipeline Team Inc.:

“Getting hands-on in finding future FM talent! We can talk about the skills gap, or we can act in any way we can to identify and nurture that talent ourselves. Find other organizations connecting and collaborating with CTE (career and technical education) programs like SkillsUSA. The FM Pipeline is doing so and helping identify that talent while still in high school. Other organizations are collaborating with local workforce development for training and upskilling. Find the one that works for your organization and dedicate time and talent to their success, which will in turn lead to your own!”

George Alvarado, quality assurance and training director for maintenance at C&W Services:

“Utilizing technologies (BMS, IoT, PdM sensors, automation, etc.) can help with making our people, processes, and properties more efficient and effective. This, in turn, will benefit our profits so that we have accurate data and performance metrics in order to eliminate waste.”

Jose Rosas Roque, facilities manager at HungerRush:

“As facilities managers, we are constantly faced with challenges and opportunities. It’s important to stay ahead of industry trends and seize every chance to succeed. By continuously learning and collaborating with peers, we can unlock the full potential of these opportunities and drive our success. Adopting a strategic approach to technology adoption and sustainability is key to achieving this success.

To realize your full potential, join IFMA, acquire their certifications, or take a course where you need support. As facilities managers, we have the power to be innovative and create multiple scenarios that benefit both our organizations and end-users. Let’s take the necessary steps to position ourselves for success in 2024 and beyond.”

Prince Reed, vice president of asset and facilities management at DaVita Kidney Care Inc.:

“There are so many cost-, time-, and energy-savings opportunities from using technology.  Whether it is BMS, LED, or predictive analytics, these systems will save on energy costs, qualify you for rebates, help with asset planning—the list goes on.”

Overall Outlook – Part 2

All FM professionals surveyed were also asked, “Are you concerned or optimistic about what’s ahead for the industry in the new year?” Here’s a sample of their responses:

Gratkowski said, “I’m very optimistic and excited to see the future of facilities management. Every day is different in our world, and with all the new and exciting trends that are out there, I think FMs are at the forefront of their C-suites now. It’s an opportunity to showcase our projects and what our employees do every day!”

Rose said, “I am optimistic about the future of facilities management. I also believe innovations like AI will make a positive impact on our industry. Those who can find effective creative ways to help them do their job more efficiently will likely catapult themselves and their organizations into a strong innovative position into the future.”

Referencing workforce challenges, McGary said, “A little bit of both! I am optimistic that those who get hands-on will be able to move forward in finding future talent. I am concerned for those who aren’t yet going all-in because they’ll wait too long and not have that talent when they need it.”

Rosas Roque said, “I am filled with optimism. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, FMs have risen to the occasion, creating innovative solutions that have allowed us to work remotely and provide virtual assistance to employees and clients. As the FM industry continues to gain recognition, we can look forward to an even brighter future ahead.”

Make sure to read Part 1 of this series, “FMs Predict Top Challenges of 2024,” here.

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