Software use uptick for quality audits, janitorial scheduling and inventory management, finds in-house FM survey

by Kathleen Misovic — This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 Issue of CMM

Hong Kong, Central District – Hong Kong, City, Skyscraper, Admiralty District

Cleaning and facility management industry professionals have identified the most critical issues they are facing according to the 2023 In-House/Facility Management Benchmarking Survey Report, sponsored by Optisolve.

As in past surveys, the 2023 survey touched on recurring issues, from the challenges of balancing budgets and hiring workers to the day-to-day necessity of maintaining difficult-to-clean areas. Inflation, hiring and retaining quality staff, living wages, employee training, keeping abreast of current viruses and emerging pathogens, healthcare-acquired infections, sustainability and supply chain issues were all named.

The survey also looked beyond familiar topics to recent trends, such as the use of digital facility management tools, which could soon overtake traditional solutions. Although spreadsheets and paper checklists are still the most popular tools—used by 73% of respondents—the use of software programs appears to be catching on. Nearly half (46%) of respondents said they use quality audit/inspection software, 43% reported using janitorial maintenance/scheduling system software, and 32% use inventory management software.

The survey also reveals the following insights:

  • Sustainability is a priority. About 70% of respondents reported working toward improving sustainability practices and lowering their facility’s carbon footprint. Facility managers are implementing a variety of sustainability practices including recycling, planting gardens, switching to LED lighting, choosing Green Seal-certified products, driving electric service vehicles, installing solar panels, composting food waste, and obtaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. This is the first year the survey asked about
  • Budgets continue to improve. Overall, operating budgets have continued to improve over the last three years. About 42% percent of respondents reported either a flat or decreased budget this year, compared to 48% in 2022 and 71% in 2021. About 51% reported their budget has increased from the prior year, compared to 41% in 2022 and only 20% in 2021.
  • Facility occupancy rates remain steady. Although occupancy rates might never go back to 100% at some buildings, with remote work a viable option for many white-collar workers, empty offices seem to be a thing of the past. Nearly half (48%) of respondents reported the facilities they care for are 70% to 99% occupied, while 40% reported their facilities are 100% occupied.
  • Restrooms remain a problem. It’s no surprise that restrooms remain the most problematic area to keep clean and maintain, chosen by 40% of respondents, followed by carpeted surfaces (25%) and entryways/foyers (11%). This is comparable to last year’s survey results, which ranked top problem areas as restrooms (44%), carpeted surfaces (15%), entryways/ foyers (11%), and multi-surface areas (11%).
  • Health and safety keep their status as the top concern. Once again, respondents chose the health and safety of their facility as their main concern (76%), similar to last year’s survey when 80% chose it as their No. 1 issue. Other top concerns in 2023 include improving productivity/efficiencies (73%), enhancing facility image (69%), and maintaining building security (64%).