Building Management Systems Help Navigate ‘New Normal’ in Pandemic Era

With more companies adopting hybrid models of work, facility managers are relying more on building management systems that can help manage buildings from afar.   July 1, 2022

By Dave Lubach, Managing Editor

Before the pandemic set in, Scott Keith and his facilities team were already plotting for changes to workspaces at the Lansing (Michigan) Entertainment & Public Facilities Authority offices. 

“We were in the process of looking internally at employee spaces, (wondering) if this is set up for employees to do their jobs effectively, then COVID accelerated that,” says Keith, the president and CEO. 

Keith was an attendee and presenter at the annual Honeywell Users Group (HUG) event last month that gave customers an update on the company’s sustainable building systems. Keith manages a diverse portfolio of facilities that includes a convention center, minor league baseball park and a golf course. And like most FMs, his team is trying to negotiate what the offices will look like post-pandemic. 

“When we had so many people laid off, I had our executive team think, ‘If you could hit the reset button, and have a different allocation of space for your staff, what would it be? Now’s the time to do it.” 

With more companies adopting hybrid models of work and some having employees work from home exclusively, facility managers are relying more than ever on building management systems that can help manage buildings from afar.  

A product such as Honeywell’s Occupant Experience suite, presented at the HUG event, can help managers operate buildings by collecting data and providing feedback on health, safety, security and cleanliness of buildings. Data collected in these areas can help employees adjust to hybrid models and protocols in a so-called “new normal” for working conditions. 

“In a time where competition for talent is high and there is an increased focus on personal well-being, the occupant experience will continue to grow in importance as more employees return to offices and workers set higher expectations for the environments in which they spend time. The need to create a place that employees want to go is key,” says Udaya Shrivastava, interim vice president and chief technology officer, Honeywell Building Technologies. 

One significant area of technology on the building management systems radar that is grabbing Keith’s attention lately is cybersecurity. More organizations are becoming vulnerable to cyberattacks, as the 2022 Cyber Defense Report says that more than 86 percent of organizations have experienced a successful cyberattack and about 40 percent of those were victimized by six or more in the last year. 

“We have to start thinking about all of the threats,” Keith says. “What are we looking at, what do we need to look at? What are the opportunities that we may not be aware of? We think of the banking part of it and we looked hard at it, but that’s changing. We have a lot of requests for direct payment options, so we have to analyze that piece of it. We went to a cashless system at the stadium last year. It’s changing and we have to be ready for it.” 

Dave Lubach is managing editor for the Facility Market. 


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