Building Controls, Energy Management and Lighting, Heating and Cooling, Human Resources, Maintenance and Operations, Security, Sustainability/Business Continuity

Unlocking Efficiency: Navigating the Future with Facility Automation

The shift towards hybrid work has revolutionized workplace dynamics, prompting operational leaders to adapt swiftly. With this evolution, employees have presented diverse demands, compelling leaders to leverage workplace technology for precise metrics. This technological utilization is not solely for convenience; it has become integral for managing facilities and strategizing space allocation effectively.

Interpreting these metrics falls into the realm of operational leaders, who must tailor spaces according to fluctuating employee needs while ensuring optimal functionality. This demand for data-driven decision-making reflects the evolving landscape where the workplace is paramount for sustained productivity and employee satisfaction in this hybrid work era.

Operational Challenges in Hybrid Work Environments

The transition towards hybrid work presents operational leaders with a maze of complexities. Many businesses are facing large operational challenges. The global workplace continues to be in a state of flux with businesses forced to adapt to the needs of structured hybrid and fully flexible employees. At the same time, asset-dependent companies are under pressure to deliver value and profitability while overcoming legacy challenges of data silos, inefficient processes, and disconnected systems. While striving to cater to the dynamic needs of employees in a hybrid environment, the reliance on workplace technology for accurate metrics adds a layer of intricacy to managing facilities and space planning.

Operational leaders also face a significant challenge posed by the contrasting directives from CEOs, who push for a return to the office while emphasizing cost reduction. Within this challenge, automation emerges as a potential solution, offering improved service management and cost control for facility teams within their buildings. This becomes particularly important when office occupancy patterns are less predictable. Automation can be used to reduce labor costs and determine when to adjust service requirements.

Facility Automation in the Workplace

Many organizations are not harnessing the full potential of facility automation, despite indications that active adoption of automation bolsters efficiency. According to recent workplace index findings, when asked what facilities automation was enabled in their workplace, operational leaders responded with the below figures:

  • 87% of respondents had implemented automated lighting control systems aimed at curbing energy consumption.
  • 83% had integrated automated security systems designed to monitor and manage access within their premises.
  • 83% had leveraged automated HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems to oversee temperatures and drive down energy expenses. 
  • 74% had adopted automated fire and life safety systems intended to swiftly detect and respond to emergencies.

Unveiling Untapped Potential

Despite the considerable percentages indicating the adoption of automation within various organizational facets, there lies a vast realm of untapped potential waiting to be explored for broader utilization and integration of facility automation across diverse landscapes.

While it is true that most organizations have embraced automation to some extent, there remain abundant opportunities left unexplored. For instance, survey results reveal a prevalent trend: Over 80% of operational leaders have successfully integrated automation into critical systems such as HVAC, security, and lighting, showcasing a commitment to optimizing energy efficiency and safety measures. However, this snapshot of automation adoption also highlights a glaring disparity: A mere 11% of surveyed operational leaders reported leveraging automated cleaning systems to meticulously detail daily usage and concurrently reduce operational costs.

This gap in utilization underscores the vast space for improvement and innovation within the realm of facility automation. While certain systems have garnered attention and implementation, other areas, such as automated cleaning systems, remain vastly underutilized despite their potential for efficiency enhancement and cost reduction.

Evolving Strategies

To maintain a competitive edge with their products or services, asset-dependent business leaders must implement a multifaceted approach for sustainable success. They must first optimize their operational processes, seeking continual improvements that streamline efficiency and bolster effectiveness. Simultaneously, they are driven to enhance and consolidate their data resources, recognizing the pivotal role of comprehensive and integrated data in informed decision-making and strategy development. Business leaders must also integrate their systems, aiming not only for operational efficiency but also for risk mitigation across the organizational spectrum.

This concerted effort towards optimization and integration invariably yields benefits within the facilities themselves. Enhanced efficiency becomes a hallmark, manifesting in smoother workflows and resource utilization. The marriage of these strategies with the utilization of facility automation holds promise for businesses, particularly in cost reduction through the deployment of automated systems. These systems, ranging from lighting and security to HVAC, offer avenues for substantial savings. Enhancing data management empowers companies to better navigate risks, fostering an operational environment that is safer and more resilient.

Facilities managers stand to gain significantly by further automating their processes to align with the fluidity of the modern, flexible workplace. Embracing additional automation measures could lead to heightened adaptability and efficiency, key attributes in navigating the evolving landscape of contemporary workspaces.

Paul Phillips is the chief technology officer at global worktech company Eptura.

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