4 Facility Management Trends to Watch in 2021

After 2020, you would have thought people would learn about the dangers of forecasting anything. But, here we are, ready to put our two cents into the mix on what might be on the horizon for facilities management in 2021. (To be fair, find a legitimate source from 2019 that predicted a worldwide pandemic and the next round’s on us.) 

Obviously, COVID-19 and its ramifications will continue to be the dominant force in facilities management for the foreseeable future. Many of the modifications businesses made last year will continue well into this this year as we learn more about the virus, how to prevent it, and what our workplaces will look like. 

Top Facility Management Trends for 2021

So, what are the trends we see coming in 2021? Let’s break it down:

1. Air filtration and HVAC upgrades.

We know that the coronavirus is airborne, so it makes sense that air quality is everyone’s priority. This will become even more important as we move employees back to workplaces.

That’s why this year will be all about new filtration, HVAC and as much clean air as possible. 

If the majority of your employees are still working from home, now may be the perfect time to reassess your HVAC and air filtration systems to see if an upgrade is in order. 

An article in the Bloomberg CityLab offers these guidelines: There should be 20 cubic feet of outdoor air per minute per person in a room, replaced three to five times per hour. Rooms shouldn’t have more than 800 parts per million of carbon dioxide, either. 

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers offers guidelines and advice as well. 

An upgraded system may not be inexpensive, but in the long run, improved air flow and a better quality of air in your facility can keep away all sorts of germs, not just COVID-19.

2. Continued emphasis on cleaning and disinfection.

This goes without saying, but keeping surfaces and facilities as clean and germ-free as possible will continue to be a huge priority this year.

Thanks to COVID-19, maintaining a high standard of cleanliness is on everyone’s mind. That’s why many businesses will continue to clean high-touch surfaces more often and increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection services––especially once employees return to the office.

One way to reduce the burden and cost of frequent cleanings is to employ a program like our SaniShell system. Not only does it eliminate the germs already on the surfaces, but it also adds a protective film that prevents germs from coming back and sticking around. 

No matter who you choose to use for disinfection and surface cleaning, make sure your vendor is up for the job. Here are some great questions to ask to ensure you’re getting the right disinfection service for your building’s needs.

3. Using robotics for cleaning.

We mentioned this in last year’s trend predictions too, but we believe robotics will continue to be another cleaning trend that’s on the rise this year.

Robots, such as auto scrubbers and vacuums, can be a particularly good solution for cleaning large facilities since they work faster and can be programmed to run at night when the building is empty. 

Cleaning robots can also cut down on staff cleaning time and reduce the number of people in and out of your building, both of which can be valuable in today’s business climate.

In particular, we recommend The Whiz, an autonomous sweeper, from our partners at ICE Robotics. This machine is powered by top-notch navigation software, which allows it to handle the most complex facility environments. For more information, contact us and we’ll put you in touch with their team so you can see it in action.

4. Workspaces will be reconfigured.

Hopefully,  2021 will find more employees returning to the office for work, but that, too, will look different. From the number of people allowed in a facility at the same time, to the need to space desks at least six feet apart, to the end of “hoteling” desk spaces, the workplace is going to be a new experience.

A report from McKinsey and Co. showed that overall attitudes about working in an office have changed significantly in the last 12 months. When productivity not only didn’t fall off when employees started working from home, but in many cases went up, employers started looking at the role of office space in a new way. It may be the case that not everyone will return to a traditional corporate life post-coronavirus. 

Office layouts are likely to be modified as more employees return to work. Conference rooms and small group meeting areas will need rethinking to allow for social distancing. Cube farms may be a thing of the past (finally) as everyone’s work area becomes more spaced out. And if they remain, desks will likely not be facing one another. 

While we see a lot of changes happening in this space, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Here’s what our colleague and partner, Scott Morgan, president at Office Resources, Inc. (ORI), had to say about this:

“Each company must decide what is best for their company, culture, and employees. Overall, companies are looking for flexible products that allow them to change quickly and keep safe distancing. There does seem to be a trend right now for the workspace to have less square footage with more impact for employees when they are present.”  

What building trends are you seeing for 2021?

Crystal balling the future has never been an exact science. But we are excited about the possibilities 2021 holds. We hope you do too. We’d love to know––what facility trends do you expect to see this year? Leave us a comment below and let us know.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how DPM can help with your goals and needs this year, please give us a call

P.S. If you’re curious about what we thought 2020 would hold, check out last year’s forecast here.