The International Facility Management Association recently announced the results of its most recent “Facilities Snapshot” poll, a survey of IFMA members that highlights the latest developments affecting the profession and serves as a barometer of facility management activity worldwide.

The survey periodically asks a sample of facility professionals a series of identical questions, with the intent of monitoring changes over time. It includes questions on topics such as space management, staffing and service provision, spending, facility planning, sustainability and current events impacting the present and future of the industry.

The most recent results show a gradual increase from previous surveys in those who anticipate hiring additional FM staff in the next six months, with 24 percent reporting such plans. Industries contributing to this trend include health care and heavy industry, such as defense and aerospace.

Furthermore, though more than half of respondents expect their portfolio size to remain the same, more than a third — 36 percent — anticipates an expansion over the next six months. Among the sectors expecting growth are professional services such as accounting, engineering and banking.

With increased activity comes an outlay of expenses, and while the majority of respondents do not foresee changes in spending in the short term, there is a considerable uptick in those expecting to pay more for utilities. Thirty-seven percent expect energy costs to rise — an 11 percent increase from the previous poll — with another 40 percent expecting to spend more on building systems equipment and 33 percent predicting increased spending on furniture. As one respondent noted, “Due to new construction in 2011, anticipated furniture, fixtures and utility expenses will be slightly escalated.”

Additionally, facility professionals report across-the-board increases in activities that hint at an improving economy. Respondents are devoting more time and resources to sustainable initiatives, office moves and additions, retrofits and renovations, safety and security products, capital asset replacement, new construction, and amenity provision than in previous “Facilities Snapshot” polls.

The report also analyzes the positive and negative effects of remote work, social media use and texting, and their impact on facility operations and overall employee productivity. The results are mixed, with the 50 percent of respondents reporting that their organizations allow remote work largely praising its effect of enhanced employee productivity. Social media use and texting, though not without their benefits, were more frequently cited as drains on productivity, with several respondents singling out Facebook in particular as a distraction.

“Although the survey indicates positive growth in staffing and portfolio size, the majority of respondents say they are doing their best, trying to get their projects done with the limited resources available,” said IFMA Director of Research Shari Epstein. “Technology tools such as remote monitoring and texting from the field, however, have made facility managers more productive and are increasingly becoming a go-to communication tool with building occupants.”

The full “Facilities Snapshot” survey report is available online at no cost.