Tomorrow’s workplace: a look into the future

From emergency and disaster preparedness to the rise of sustainable building design, today’s facility manager must adapt to current trends and prepare for future problems. The top trends were discussed at IFMA’s forecasting workshop in Houston.
By Staff September 12, 2007

For facility management professionals, the workplace of tomorrow is the challenge of today. From emergency and disaster preparedness to the rise of sustainable building design, today’s facility manager must adapt to current trends and prepare for future problems. To help meet this two-tiered challenge, industry professionals from around the world met in Houston earlier this year for the International Facility Management Association’s (IFMA) forecasting workshop. The result was a peek into the future, as eight trends emerged that promise to shape building design and facility operations throughout the 21st century.
The top trends of 2007 that will most impact the built environment of the future are: linking facility management to strategy, emergency preparedness, change management, sustainability, emerging technology, globalization, broadening diversity in the workforce and aging buildings. The trends were identified by forecasting workshop panelists representing industries such as corporate real estate, government policy, energy, security and technology. While many of these trends are not new, the role they play has become more prominent.
“It’s important that industry leaders get together to identify trends and look at where the profession is headed over the next several years and beyond,” said David J. Brady, IFMA president and CEO. “This strategic exercise puts us in a better position to prepare IFMA members for the challenges that lie ahead and equip them with the skill sets and resources they need to be effective stewards of organizational assets.”
Linking the role an organization’s facilities play to its overall business objectives always has been paramount. For facility managers, the first trend highlights the importance of developing a clear understanding of their organization’s long-term business strategy %%MDASSML%% not just focusing on short-term problem solving.
Emergency preparedness, the second trend, has always been an element of facility management, though it has taken on a more visible role in recent years. Disaster planning and recovery have come to the forefront as dramatic emergency situations such as the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina have occurred during the past decade. Today’s facility professional must embrace the idea that emergency preparedness covers much more than emergency planning. They must strive to develop a concrete plan that minimizes the disruption of business and expedites the recovery process.
The concept of sustainability, a trend which continues to grow in importance, now has a broader scope. Beyond environmental responsibility, it now includes aspects of energy management, indoor air quality and high-performance systems.
out the years. It’s doubtful that sustainability will disappear from the facility management or business radar any time soon.”
While each trend has elements that are unique, many have common characteristics and demand similar skill sets. Understanding and respecting cultural norms and differences will help facility managers deal with change management, globalization and broadening diversity in the workforce.
To prepare for the future, facility management professionals should assess their competencies in these eight areas. Addressing these trends %%MDASSML%% through consideration, education and preparation %%MDASSML%% will arm facility managers with the tools they need to face the challenges ahead.
To download the full forecast report, visit www.ifma.org/tools/research/forecasting_reports.cfm .