The Facilities Management Challenge of 2020: Uncertainty

If the coronavirus has shaken one conviction among our facilities managers and building owners, it is that the certainty on which we have built, maintained, and renovated our buildings in the United States has been broken.  So how do we react when tenants are closing their doors, employees are forced to work from home and then discover they like it, the certainty of protecting people and data and valuables inside four walls and a ceiling has been broken?  We have been proud to see how millions of facilities managers and building owners have reacted.  Here are 10 lessons learned in the face of uncertainty:

  1. Energy demand is down in commercial spaces and up in residential.  How do we monitor, measure, and maintain it in the future?  Savvy facilities managers are exploring more complex energy management and building automation systems.  More reasonably priced and technology driven, facilities managers can reduce consumption at the touch of a button.
  2. Tenant spaces will get smaller.  So, we need more tenants using less space.  The demand for smaller spaces will encourage fluctuations in rental rates.  Savvy building owners will get creative about longer, smaller leased spaces to fill their buildings. 
  3. Technology, security, and cybersecurity will continue to be measured and monitored and expanded as employees continue to work from home, perhaps indefinitely.  Equipment will need permanent remote access, GPS locators and protection from cyberattacks and theft while in the hands of families at home.
  4. Janitorial cleaning and disinfecting will continue to be a top priority.  That means spending more money on services or staff and supplies to keep employees and tenants in cleaner environments.
  5. Proper housekeeping of facilities drawings, mechanical specifications, equipment use, asset management of equipment.  Where is everything, who does it belong to, how long will it last.  The need to have information centralized and accessible remotely rather than “on the 17thfloor in the old west wing by the old hot water tank storage closet.” 
  6. Power Distribution, Power Quality and Emergency Power: never have facilities managers felt more vulnerable about security breaches due to interrupted power, power failure or power quality.  Backup power to the backup power.  If facilities didn’t really pay attention before, they are paying attention now.
  7. Construction, renovation, and deferred maintenance: Building new buildings will come under enormous scrutiny and master planning.  Why?  What can we do instead? A drift toward residential projects many occur as large public spaces are rethought.  Watch large public spaces start to incorporate more residential housing inside them.  Don’t be surprised if malls, commercial office buildings, museums, libraries, and public parks don’t start incorporating housing developments that allow people to live close to work and recreational spaces.  The move has been occurring for some time.  It will accelerate. 
  8. Travel, hospitality, recreational and entertainment venues will divide spaces differently (construction opportunity) to make more distance between people.  That will allow for the entertainment and travel industries to reopen with the higher ticket prices and more privacy. 
  9. Masks, hand sanitizer and other personal protection devices will be a way of life for the foreseeable future.  Having adequate supplies always will be the new toilet paper and hand towels.  That will be every type of facility everywhere.
  10. Facilities managers and building owners will continue to do what they do best, research, compare notes, innovate to serve, and protect the people and environments they create, maintain, and manage.  We are proud to serve them.


Anita F. Brattina, CEO, AllFacilities, Inc.


AllFacilities helps facilities managers and building owners maintain, renovate, and manage their facilities through ideas and innovations that lower operating costs, reduce energy and extend building life.  If you are having a problem with one of your facilities, write to us at:  or call 412.721.3186 (text). We have helped more than one million facilities managers in North America and around the world since 2002