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How to make a success of automation in facilities management

By Richard Gelder, Director of Hays Construction & Property

 

Automation within facilities management can be far-reaching, helping to streamline services, pre-empt required maintenance, sense and detect hazards, identify inefficiencies that result in unnecessary spend and automate workflows integrating people, place and technology. Automation can ultimately help to reduce delays and errors and provide better safety and efficiency of the built environment.

The Hays What Workers Want Report 2019 shows digital transformation is widespread within the profession. 71% of those working in facilities management say that digital transformation is either a primary or secondary focus for their organisation. Attitudes towards automation in the workplace are also generally positive. Only 7% of those working in facilities management say they have a negative view towards automation at work, and 84% think we should embrace automation in the workplace.

So what do employers need to focus on to make a success of digital transformation and greater automation within facilities management?

Training is key

When asked what the most important area is for their organisation to focus on to ensure that digital transformation is a success, 39% of facilities management respondents said training, followed by developing a culture that is open to change (23%).

Looking more specifically at automation, training is also highlighted as an important focus area. The top area facilities management respondents think their organisation should focus on to prepare for automation in the workplace is support with training and upskilling (35%) followed by ensuring there is a ‘test and learn’ environment (14%).

Employers not providing enough training support

Almost half of employers say they do not currently have access to the right skills to enable them to make the best use of automation technology, and 69% expect the biggest barrier to automation implementation in the future will be a lack of skills from current staff.

The onus for upskilling sits very much with employers. 63% of both employers and employees working in facilities management believe it is the primary responsibility of employers to equip professionals with the skills needed in the future in order to derive the most benefit from automation.

However, three-fifths of employees say they are not upskilling their technical skills in relation to automation. Of those who are, 71% are upskilling through their own training and development, with only 29% doing so through training and development supported or funded by their employer.

In addition, over a third of employees say they are not developing their soft skills to be able to work with automation. Of those who are upskilling, almost half are doing so through their own training and development rather than being supported by their employer.

Support lifelong learning to ensure targeted skills development

Employers should, therefore, ensure that training opportunities are appropriate both to the needs of the individual and the goals of the organisation as a whole. Supporting lifelong learning is important in today’s increasingly mobile society, which entails investment in both traditional training formats and more bite-sized resources that facilitate self-learning. Whatever your approach, it is crucial that employees’ development is supported so they do not feel forced to upskill themselves in isolation and without proper guidance. 

Ensuring your workforce possesses the skills needed for a more automated future will enable your organisation to reap the benefits of greater process efficiencies, cost savings and improved stakeholder relationships.

To discover further insights into how automation is impacting jobs and the steps you can take to prepare, get your copy of the Hays What Workers Want Report 2019

About this author

Richard leads specialist recruiting consultants across the sector. He joined Hays in 1991 and quickly worked his way up through the ranks and was appointed Director in 2001.

 

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