June 18, 2021
The latest RICS UK Facilities Management Survey results suggest a greater demand for services across all sectors, apart from retail, with FM employment opportunities therefore increasing. Furthermore, for the first time since the COVID-19 crisis swept the world last year, profit margins in the sector are expected to rise.
A growth in demand for FM services was most prominent in the healthcare sector where 91 percent more respondents reported a rise in workloads, up from +87 percent in the previous quarter. However, retail continues to struggle with 73 percent more respondents reporting a fall in demand for FM services.
This growth in demand for services, as we continue to emerge from lockdown restrictions, has seen more respondents to the quarterly survey suggest that employment opportunities in FM are rising as a net balance of +58 percent reported a rise in headcounts over the past three months, up from +24 percent in the previous survey. This is the strongest reading since the survey began, with more people also being offered FM based apprenticeships, training and qualifications across the sector.
Moreover, employment expectations for the whole sector recorded the strongest reading on record for the year ahead with +37 percent more respondents expecting more FM based jobs to become available in the coming twelve-months.
“It is clear that FM is evolving rapidly”
Despite the optimistic outlook on the employment front, respondents have noted that it is becoming increasingly difficult to source building operation and maintenance workers, with over half of respondents (+51 percent) citing this as an issue, up from over a quarter in Q1 (+28 percent).
A net balance of +86 percent of survey respondents expect workloads to pick up over the next twelve-months. Meanwhile, workplace and relocation management is anticipated to see the strongest growth across all areas of FM. As the UK looks to build back greener, sustainability management is widely anticipated to grow over the coming twelve months.
Looking at profit margins, this is the first time in over a year that the survey points to profit margins growing, with a net balance of +6 percent anticipating a rise, compared to -15 percent expecting a fall in the previous survey. Also, more positively, +9 percent of respondents intend to acquire more property over the year ahead.
Building back better
In keeping with the trend seen in previous surveys, 85 percent of contributors still believe that clients consider sustainability to be either the most important, or at least one of the most important issues, with energy management and health and wellbeing seen as the fastest expanding areas of sustainability.
As the UK moves to reduce its carbon footprint quicker than other countries, companies are now doing their bit to help reach this target, with 38 percent of survey respondents highlighting that end users are now regularly considering implementing energy efficient measures to reduce carbon emissions.
RICS President and facilities management specialist, Kath Fontana commented: “This latest survey reinforces the crucial role of effective facilities management as we build back better, and now greener, from COVID19.
“Seeing a growth in workloads, profit expectations and job opportunities across the sector over the previous three months is very positive and, given the size of our sector, vital to the UK’s economic recovery. It is encouraging to see a very high focus on sustainability and an intensifying drive to decarbonise.
“It is clear that FM is evolving rapidly not only to improve the places that we work and use daily, but also to tackle some of the biggest issues facing our built environment.”
Image by Dominique Knobben