As seen in Facilities Management Advisor

By Thomas Philippart de Foy is the chief innovation officer at Appspace, and Andrew Gilman is the chief marketing officer at NWN Carousel.

“Everything, Everywhere, All at Once” is an award-winning movie that won several major industry awards last year. In today’s landscape, this movie title fittingly describes the widespread influence of artificial intelligence (AI) across numerous industries and job functions. AI is seemingly everywhere now, with one IEEE global report ranking it as the most critical global technology in 2024.

Facilities management is no exception. Acknowledging the “interest and apprehension” surrounding AI, the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) recently released a statement underscoring AI’s importance in the industry. The statement also outlined IFMA’s commitment to developing informational and educational resources to help facilities managers apply this new knowledge in their field.

As AI increasingly starts dominating workplace discussions, it’s essential to recognize that employee engagement and collaboration are equally vital and remain top priorities for organizations vying for talent. With more organizations bringing employees back into physical workspaces, AI presents a compelling and timely solution for facilities managers to enhance the traditional workplace experience.

Give Them Their Space

A 2023 Gensler Research report found that only 47% of surveyed employees have access to all four essential types of office space: spaces for creative group work, individual quiet work, recharge, and reflect and restore. Yet, business leaders advocating for return-to-office policies often emphasize the physical office as crucial for productivity and generating ideas.

Many employees agree they face setbacks in collaboration when working alone in the office. Facilities and workplace managers can lead the way in using AI-driven tools to streamline the room booking and space reservation process. This eliminates wasted time in the office finding somewhere to work and makes it easier for employees to schedule their in-office time to align with colleagues.

Data Decisions for the Win

AI is a game-changer in delivering valuable and actionable data. Facilities managers now have real-time insights into meaningful information that can impact the employee and visitor experience, including Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, maintenance logs, energy consumption records, and occupancy data.

This information helps employees choose the days they come in and the offices they reserve. These data-driven insights also empower facilities managers to make informed business decisions regarding resource allocation, space utilization, and preventive maintenance strategies.

Greener Buildings, Happier Teams

According to recent Appspace research, 72% of all respondents said a company’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) strategy is very or somewhat important to them, with only 8% stating it’s entirely unimportant. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of in-office and hybrid respondents agree with the statement, “I care about my office’s energy consumption habits.”

In addition to enhancing operational efficiency, AI presents a promising avenue for driving sustainability efforts in facilities management. Facility leaders can easily tap into AI’s transformative capabilities to advance sustainability.

By adopting AI-powered analytics and automation, facilities managers can optimize energy usage, minimize carbon emissions, and foster eco-friendly practices, aligning with broader organizational objectives, including creating a more positive and productive workplace environment.

Collaborate to Overcome AI Obstacles

Though AI simplifies many processes, advancing the technology may be difficult because of investments in infrastructure and staff training. However, facilities managers can overcome these challenges by working with human resources teams and other departments, focused on enhancing overall workplace satisfaction.

Human resources can facilitate training programs to upskill staff members, and internal communications teams can use tools like an employee app and company intranet to keep employees informed on important technology updates. By leveraging the resources of different departments, facilities managers can more successfully navigate the complexities of integrating AI solutions into building operations, paving the way for more buy-in and enhanced efficiency.

AI is, indeed, everywhere, seemingly all at once. As we enter this era of AI innovation, facilities managers can embrace this technology with confidence and foresight. By proactively integrating AI-driven solutions into building operations, professionals in the facilities sector will play a strategic role in enhancing efficiency, productivity, and sustainability. This will best position their organizations for long-term success by creating workplace destinations in a competitive landscape.

As in other professional roles, the rise of AI is shifting facilities management, offering unprecedented opportunities for improvement. Using AI as a strategic tool for workplace transformation, facilities managers can better navigate complexities, shaping more dynamic, sustainable, and productive environments for today’s and tomorrow’s workplaces.

Thomas Philippart de Foy is the chief innovation officer at Appspace, and Andrew Gilman is the chief marketing officer at NWN Carousel.