Impact of COVID-19 on Facilities Management

Management Information from specialist FM systems will be critical to agile planning of demand for FM staff, utilisation of physical estates and subsequent cost control.

Impact of COVID on Facilities Management

There are plenty of facilities management skills and talent available, however, measures around if and how we travel to work and future workspaces will continue to evolve. It will be some time before stabilisation which means ongoing uncertainty for facilities managers.

Impact of COVID-19 on Facilities Management Sector - Cleaner with gloves and spray bottle

Immediate Implications

The way buildings operate post-lockdown has changed. The facilities we work, play, heal, socialise and live in will have additional measures put in place to encourage and support social distancing and cross-contamination. There will be increased cleaning regimes, a change to communal areas and new rules to abide by. This creates both opportunities and threats for facilities management organisations in terms of staffing:

  • There will be increased costs because of a higher demand for Soft FM skills such as cleaning, security and front of house.
  • The economic downturn means there is going to be a new candidate pool available who, with limited training, could complement additional requirements in Soft FM.

Future opportunities and threats

The increased demands on Soft FM staffing are going to lead to increased costs. But who foots the bill? Many FM companies hold long-term agreements with clients which may cause contractual problems in light of the new normal. This will need resolving and a level of operational flexibility added to ensure safe operations. Naturally, the increased cost is ultimately likely to reach the consumer in one way or another. However, it may be possible to mitigate some costs through:

  • Technology that reduces human contact such as video meetings, interviews and through tracking attendance i.e. no signing into buildings or exchanging hard copy timesheets
  • Reduced building use could conversely lead to a reduction in Hard FM expenditure such as building maintenance and furniture, fixtures and equipment costs.
Impact of COVID-19 on Facilities Management: Person working from home having a video conference call
Impact of COVID-19 on Facilities Management, Sign stuck on floor saying "stay safe and keep your distance"

Keep a close eye out for

How and with whom you communicate. While FM professional will be confident in their ability to introduce new systems of building management, it will be the confidence and behaviour of building users that will dictate the success of a new regime. Communication is therefore vital, both to reassure people that they are working in a safe environment, but also to explain the new systems and achieve full “buy-in”. 

  • Organisations must be prepared for the risk of a 2nd wave, local lockdowns and changes to travel rules.
  • The IWFM have a series of useful resources available to help FM professionals navigate this difficult time (iwfm.org.uk/).
 

Demand for Facilities Management Staff

Graph showing companies demand for facilities staff over the last 12 months

Despite the increased criticality of recruiting good Facilities Managers to help businesses cope with the considerable changes to workplace and customer environments, we can see that it's only really the property management companies and NHS that are currently investing in growing this workforce with large FM organisations tending to backfill natural staff attrition.

UK Map showing advertising activity for facilities management staff

Peterborough, Sandwell, Leicestershire, Lewisham and Dumfries are among areas that have advertised the most for facilities staff over the last 30 days reflecting acute areas of need where either scarcity of talent is high or a sharp uplift in demand for staff is presently being experienced.

 

£41,152 Facilities manager average salary
Facilities Manager average salary for the first half of 2020 is a 3%increase on the same period last year.
26% unique postings, 60% posting intensity
While the number of unique roles advertised for Facilities Managers during April - June has dropped by 26% compared with the same period last year, the posting intensity has increased the advert to vacancy ratio from 5:1 to 8:1 demonstrating a higher effort in recruiting Facilities Managers.

Top Tips

  • Reassure building users that they can work in a safe and productive environment through the quality and diversity of communication used to embed new systems and regimes. Consider home worker environments on an individual basis.

  • Consider talent from other industries who may make the transition into facilities management. There will be additional staffing needs in FM, but other sectors will see large layoffs due to the economic downturn. 

  • Communication is critical to success and morale, so work closely with comms specialists to optimise reach and efficacy of your communication programme.
 

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