We all can say with certainty that 2020 was a year that changed the cleaning industry forever, but how did those changes play out in the facility services sector? The 2021 CMM In-House/Facility Management Benchmarking Survey Report, sponsored by Coastwide ProfessionalTM, offers a glimpse into how the global pandemic affected facility managers and in-house service providers, how they’ve adapted, and what trends they’ll see for the rest of 2021.
In addition to the usual questions about operating budgets and problem areas, we asked facility managers questions directly related to the coronavirus pandemic such as how staffing changed, if they purchased more disinfecting chemicals and equipment, and what types of health and safety measures they installed in their facilities. Here is a snapshot of their responses:
Staffing is stable—The good news is more than half (68%) of respondents said staffing has remained the same or increased in 2021. Only 15% had to reduce or eliminate staff, and 17% reduced or furloughed staff with plans to bring workers back.
Budgets are down or flat—Overall, 2021 operating budgets aren’t as fat as they were when 2020 budgets were set before the onset of the pandemic in the U.S. Nearly three-fourths (71%) of respondents reported either a flat or decreased budget for 2021. Broken down, one-third (33%) of respondents reported they will work with a flat budget and even more (38%) will have less to spend this year. Only 20% will have more to spend than they did in 2020, down 16% from the 36% who reported an operating budget increase last year.
Disinfection purchases are up—Respondents met the challenge of fighting a new, deadly virus from spreading in their facilities by purchasing more disinfecting chemicals and equipment in 2020 versus 2019. The largest group of respondents (34%) said they purchased 1-20% more disinfection products compared to 2019 and 28% reported they purchased 21-40% more. Most respondents (57%) expect 2020 purchasing levels to remain consistent for 2021 and 24% expect they will purchase even more disinfection items this year. Those purchases include new technology and equipment such as electrostatic sprayers, the top choice by far of new technology that facility managers report they will adopt in the next 12 months.
Health and safety is top priority—Our surveys consistently show “health and safety” comes out on top when facility managers are asked to rank the most important issues affecting their operations. Eighty-two percent of respondents said health and safety was important “to a large extent” compared to 76% last year. Improving facility image, improving productivity/efficiencies, security, and asset preservation rounded out the top five most important concerns. When it comes to COVID-19, facility managers had to quickly adapt to implement new health and safety measures last year. More than 90% of facilities posted new signage, 81% installed partitions or barrier shields, and 72% instated touchless hand sanitizer stations, which have all become familiar sights of the new facility landscape.
While comparisons are harder to make in a year that compares to no other, we hope this report will offer useful insights and clarity on how facilities around the country have adapted and are moving forward through 2021. We thank everyone who participated in this year’s survey and commend you all on your resiliency and tireless efforts to keep facilities—and the people inside them—safe and healthy.
Download the full survey report below: