Veriforce partnered with Verdantix to interview 49 facility management executives from the top companies about the key challenges they expect to face and the digital strategies needed to overcome them. According to the study, the TOP 2 challenges facing facilities management are:
1. Health and safety regulations. As many as 90% of company executives named health and safety regulations as a very significant (53%) or significant (37%) challenge.
2. Data security. Identified as the second-largest challenge facing the facilities management sector today by 90% of firms.
Facility managers face a new set of health and safety challenges as workers continue to return to the office post-COVID-19. Data security remains a growing concern for businesses everywhere, demanding tighter controls. We outline the challenges below along with best practices to promote health and safety and data security.
Evolving Health and Safety Standards
As workforces migrate back into the office, facility managers are facing a new set of health and safety standards from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the World Health Organization (WHO), among others. Many of the new regulations focus on ventilation and air cleaning practices as a result of COVID-19 and weather events, including wildfires in Australia, Canada, and California.
Based on these new health and safety regulations, facility managers can take the following steps to maintain a safe working environment for all during and beyond the transition back to the office.
- Implement workplace controls. From engineering controls (i.e. installing high-efficiency filters (e.g. HEPA) and physical barriers) to administrative controls (i.e. encouraging sick workers to stay at home), safe work practices (i.e. requiring regular hand washing and providing resources to promote personal hygiene), and personal protective equipment (PPE).
- Develop a response plan. An emergency response plan should be prepared based on federal, state, and local health regulations to respond to local health emergencies. Each plan must take into consideration its specific workplace resources and environment and any unique challenges the facility will have to respond to.
- Provide proper onboarding for contractors. Contractor onboarding is critical to getting the job done right — ensuring your workers go home safe every night. In order for your workplace controls and response plans to be effective, your contingent workforce must know, understand, follow, and enforce them.
Increasing Data Security Risks
One of the biggest challenges to come out of the pandemic for businesses is the increasing threat to data security. Cybercriminals took advantage of the sudden and rushed transition of workforces from in-office to fully remote in 2020 and found new ways to prey on unprepared, less secure networks. In addition, the need for more integration with other software platforms and networked devices provided greater vulnerabilities for many organizations and buildings.
Building owners and managers are not only responsible for their own integrated systems – including data management, asset performance monitoring software, Internet of Things(IoT), and staff devices – but also for ensuring that the building infrastructure and equipment that their tenants rely on is protected. While paper documents and spreadsheets are easily accessible, management software provides an extra layer of security for your highly-important client, vendor, and contractor data.
As cyber-attacks become more sophisticated (think: the casino where hackers captured sensitive data by infiltrating an IoT thermometer in a fish tank), so must the processes and protections put in place to safeguard data.
Use these best practices as a starting point for your facility’s data security plan:
- Identify your sensitive data. Before you can protect it, you must know what type and how much sensitive data you own or store. Understand what building infrastructure each tenant depends on and what data is being processed or stored on your systems.
- Set controls. Data security controls include firewalls, vulnerability monitoring, and identity and access management.
- Continuously monitor the effectiveness of your security controls. As cyber criminals continuously evolve and their sophistication increases further, it is important to monitor whether or not the controls you’ve established remain effective. If they don’t, revise your strategy.
- Train your staff on the latest safety protocols. Make sure facilities personnel understand the goals of your security protocols. Similar to physical health and safety procedures, the plans you put in place can only be effective with a workforce that knows, understands, and implements them. However, due to the technical nature of data security, finding the right staff with the appropriate qualifications is key.
Hiring the right team of contractors and tracking their training will be key to meeting today’s health and safety and data privacy challenges across your team.
What do Facility Management Execs Expect the Next 5 Years to Bring?
We were curious too – so we asked. Partnering with the research team at Verdantix, we interviewed 49 facility management executives that represent firms making a combined $147 Billion annually.
Here are the types of insights the group revealed:
- Top 5 challenges that the respondents expect to contend with over the next five years (#1 and #2 are included above)
- Significant opportunities for industry improvement related to risk management
- The motivations behind investing in software to improve their contractor management
- 6 steps to optimize contractor management
  Verdantix Report, Veriforce