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What's Next for FM? 5 Emerging Topics You Need To Know

IFMA's First Vice Chair, Dean Stanberry recently joined the Connected FM Podcast to discuss IFMA's new Emerging Topic working group. Here are the highlights.

There are new activities and new things to learn in facility management and commercial real estate all the time. It's difficult to keep up with all of the new topics and know which sources to trust. The IFMA Executive Committee create an Emerging Topics Working Group to help all FMs stay on top of the newest topics in the profession: circular economy, climate change, ESG reporting, prop tech and workplace wellness and well-being.

These are the topics that everybody is talking about - and there is a lot of knowledge that needs to be shared. 

1. Circular economy: We have operated on what's known as a linear economy for a long time. A circular economy is one where you're now making sure that the resources you're pulling from the planet are put to best use. When you're done with that particular first use, you have another use for them, and it's not just going into a landfill.

In the U.S., we haven't done much with the circular economy. Yet in other places, such as Europe, they're a little further ahead. It is advancing. We're gonna need to make people aware of it, and that's what the intent of this is. What does the FM need to do? How much do they need to know right now? When do they need to know it?

2. Climate change: This is not a new topic. It's been around for a while. We're seeing an accelerated interest in what's going on with the climate.

Of course, more and more disasters have been happening between wildfires, floods, and more intense hurricanes. We need to be a little more aware of what our risks are. For that, IFMA's put out a couple of papers: Climate Change Fundamentals for Facility Managers and Adapting to Climate Change for Facility Managers.

The first paper is really just an explainer. It takes about 3000 pages of dense scientific material and boils it down to a simple-to-understand 30-page report that gives facility managers what they need to know and what's happening. Adapting to Climate Change is really getting into how you do a climate risk assessment to determine what your risks are.

Then from there, you can start to determine how to either adapt to the risk or avoid the risk, which may be moving someplace, or accept the risk and basically take your chances, and roll the dice. 


3. ESG reporting: Environmental, social, and governance. It's on everybody's lips. We've heard a lot about ESG, but there are no formal standards yet. That's one of the challenges a lot of people are talking about. We can't really say that there is a formalized way of reporting for environmental, social and governance, but we have government bodies getting involved. The Securities and Exchange Commission or SEC has produced a proposed set of guidelines for ESG reporting. 

What makes an ESG report special is that there are disclosure requirements so that if someone gives you a report, you can depend on the data that's in there, and that it's not falsified or embellished in any way.

4. PropTech or property technology: That is a term that is used to cover essentially the explosion of technology that is affecting the workplace and all of the facility management these days. Certainly new types of equipment, new instrumentation with new equipment that's coming out. It's massive. And we're producing terabytes of sensor data. So how do we analyze that? How do we make turn that data into information and then turn the information into insight?

One of the challenges with the commercial real estate industry is that because it's the last industry to go digital there's a low level of technical skills and experience, so we need to raise the bar. 

5. Workplace wellness and well-being: What does that mean? How is it different from what we've been talking about? The early days of workplace wellness and well-being really focused on a lot of indoor air quality. Are we keeping the fans going? Is the CO2 levels at a reasonable rate?

But now as we move forward, we need to start looking at a lot of other aspects of health and well-being like the water quality and all sorts of things that affect the work environment. How do we tell and convince people that the workplace is a healthy place to be? Are we offering them healthy choices if we're offering food or drinking water? How do they know that those are good choices and not bad choices?

We should also be thinking about mental health wellness and well-being. How do you feel in the workplace? Is it a safe space? Is it a place that you feel comfortable going to, arriving at and spending time in?


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