Facilities management appears to have emerged as an important area of opportunity within the property sector throughout Australia as owners of higher grade buildings increasingly seek ways to differentiate the offering of their asset within the marketplace.

According to a number of sources, levels of spending and investment in this area have picked up following a lull in 2015.

“Many facilities management departments across both the public and private sectors are increasing spend after last year’s cost cutting,” recruitment outfit Hays said in a recent report.

“We expect to see more spending and employment in the coming year with many education refurbishments planned along with some new and unusual projects such as Australia’s first high rise schools.”

Amanda Steel, head of asset services for real estate services firm CBRE agrees, saying managers of buildings within the more customer service focused Premium, A and B grade offerings were increasingly becoming amenable to greater levels of investment in priority areas.

“We have seen an upturn in what people are investing into property management and facilities management,” she said. “We are seeing a big kick in the top end of town wanting services and assistance outside of just traditional property management. That’s led to an increase in investment and spending from facilities and property managers.”

In terms of priority areas, Steel says a push toward more of a hotel-style concierge and customer service approach toward buildings is noticeable within higher grades of stock. This is being driven by a desire on the part of owners to differentiate the offering of their assets within the marketplace by enabling tenants to derive a greater sense of comfort and enjoyment from their time within the workforce.

Environmental friendliness and indoor air quality are increasingly being seen as a critical aspect of personal hygiene and owners and occupants also want facilities which are easier to control. As a result, building automation and sustainability are other focus areas, Steel says. Any areas of building management which can deliver better natural light and indoor air quality are attracting significant levels of investment. Maintenance is also a priority at the higher end, Steel says, due to an importance placed upon a strong regime in this area from the viewpoint of rating tools such as NABERS and Green Star.

Steel says building management is an area of growing importance.

“Traditionally, we saw property managers as unlocking your doors, making sure that the building is working and making certain that spills are being cleaned up,” she said.

“Now we have our landlords and owners asking us about how we can get the tenants more engaged in the building and how they we building a vertical community of tenants so that they (tenants and workers) enjoy coming to work, want to stay in the building and feel like they are getting above standard levels of service within the building. That leads to greater productivity and stickiness of those tenants.”

In terms of workers, meanwhile, Hays says demand exists for facilities coordinators, public sector work supervisors, groundspeople, chefs, utility candidates, cleaners, service coordinators and scheduling tradespeople and customer service personnel as well as those who are able to easily master in-house building technology services.

After a subdued period, building managers are opening their wallets.

For those able to assist in creating a more positive physical workplace environment, that presents healthy levels of opportunity.