Labour sourcing is the top obstacle for FMs in providing cleaning services of the right quality, according to a new report by SoftBank Robotics EMEA, the global leader in collaborative robotics (cobotics).
Nearly half (46 per cent) ranked it higher than traditional barriers such as ‘cost margins’ (24 per cent) and ‘demonstrating value’ (22 per cent), with almost three in four respondents (73 per cent) in total reporting that they ‘always’ or ‘regularly’ have difficulty sourcing labour.
To help guide FM in designing solutions that address the labour shortage and generate better outcomes for businesses, employees and consumers, SoftBank Robotics undertook a survey of FM professionals in the spring of 2022 to learn how the current labour shortage is impacting the sector, the biggest challenges FM professionals now face, and the challenges to technology adoption.
When asked about the biggest barriers to sourcing labour, the most popular answers in the survey were ‘changes to immigration’ (27 per cent) and ‘employee expectations over pay, benefits and working conditions’ (27 per cent), followed by ‘cleaning industry image’ (18 per cent).
At a time when new technologies could provide the solution to the cleaning sector’s labour sourcing woes, SoftBank’s research revealed a significant knowledge gap in its adoption. Despite 79 per cent agreeing that real-time data for measuring cleaning services is important, one in three (30 per cent) lack confidence or knowledge of what’s available.
Respondents were asked to name the biggest challenges in identifying and implementing new technology, the joint most popular answers were ‘cost’ and ‘demonstrating ROI’, both at 26 per cent. Linked to these areas is the challenge of organisational buy, cited as a key barrier for 15 per cent of FMs.
Stefano Bensi, general manager of SoftBank Robotics EMEA, said: “There seems to be a paradox at play. Demand for cleaning services has never been higher at a time of a soaring labour crisis. Additionally, increasing employee expectations concerning cleanliness and hygiene has resulted in the FM profession experiencing both a challenge and an opportunity. Forward thinking FMs are exploring a number of innovative strategies to stay relevant, including the adoption of cobotic technologies.”
SoftBank Robotics also surveyed 2,000 employees on their expectations around cleanliness in the buildings they occupy, from offices and hotels to coffee shops and restaurants. The results revealed that 71 per cent would like visual reassurance of cleaning regimes in the buildings they enter, while 33 per cent said they would rather work from home than in a workplace or venue where they questioned the approach to cleaning and hygiene.
As a result, there appears to be a disconnect between employee expectations and employer aspirations.
You can download the report here: