It feels like every week there’s a new workplace trend, with everyone racing to explain the latest seismic shifts coming from the massive move to remote work. We quickly gave up on the Great Resignation so we could share our feelings on The Great Regret, but now everyone’s going back and forth on boomerang employees.

For facility and maintenance managers, though, the most important trend remains return to office. With more people coming into your facilities more often, you need to ramp up both on-demand and scheduled maintenance.

But because your organization might have spent the last few years shedding office square footage and running onsite skeleton crews, you could be working with a reduced budget.

So, how can you set and protect your facility maintenance budget now that everything is starting up again?

But before looking at current trends, their effects, and how to get and protect the maintenance budget you need, it makes sense to cover the basics when it comes to facility maintenance budgets.

What is a facility maintenance budget?

A budget is different things to different people, every one of them important.

A maintenance budget is how you map out a process for meeting your annual maintenance goals. It includes an overview of expected costs for the different types of maintenance the team is set to accomplish, from on-demand to preventive or even predictive if you use it.

It’s also a good way to set targets and establish ways of checking progress. It helps you track where you’re spending so you can see where you’re succeeding and where you need to improve.

A budget is more than just a plan, though. In many ways, it’s also how you make your case to the larger organization so that you get the money you need to make that plan happen. It’s how you ask for and get your piece of the pie.

What are the different types of facility maintenance budgets?

There are generally two, operating and project. Operating is the one you need to keep things going, so it needs to include all the costs connected to maintaining assets and equipment across departments and facilities. It’s the costs of labor, materials, tools, and any outside help you need to bring in.

For project budgets, you’re focusing on specific, one-off projects, with predetermined start and end dates. For example, parts and labor for on-demand work and preventive maintenance inspections on the boiler are part of the ongoing budget. But if you’re retrofitting or completely replacing that boiler, you create a separate project budget.

It’s important to know about the different types of budgets for your facility maintenance. Most managers need both ongoing and project budgets to deliver the uptime everyone else in the organization depends on.

How can you get and protect your maintenance budget for return to work?

If you lost any of your budget when parts of the workforce went remote, it’s because the organization looked at the data and started making cuts.

Because they knew there were planned reductions in both office square footage and people coming into the offices, they felt they could get by giving you less.

They used numbers to take parts of your budget away. Use numbers to get them back.

Conduct a facilities condition assessment (FCA)

A facilities condition assessment delivers a complete picture of both the physical condition and functional performance of your facilities, including all the buildings and infrastructure. At the end of the assessment, you know if what you have, in its current condition, can deliver what you need.

You also get insights into where you need to renew or replace, so you’re able to make data-driven decisions on any larger capital projects.

With a complete assessment, you have the hard data you need to make a strong case for a larger budget. It’s one thing to say you want more resources. It’s another to be able to point to a boiler and say you need room in your budget to replace it before it’s now predicted to reach the end of its useful life sometime in the next 12 months.

You have the option of doing the work yourself or hiring out. In either case, it’s money well spent.

Frame maintenance as critical to employee experience and a successful return to office.

According to a recent report, a full 64% of employees said they would quit instead of coming back to the office full time.

So, many companies have moved to the hybrid work model, with employees required to work from the office a set number of days per week but given the freedom to choose which days. Currently, Tuesday is most popular, with Wednesday and Thursday rounding out the top three.

But more than the when of return to office, it’s the why that’s important.

According to a recent Eptura workplace trends report, when asked about the benefits of return to office, 45% see an improved ability to meet with colleagues, clients, and vendors, while 36% believe coming into the office helps improve company culture.

But just as important as the people is the place. In that same report, full 35% of employees say they come to the office for a “productive, well-equipped environment.”

In the end, if companies want their return to office plans to succeed, they need to ensure everything in the office works, from the elevators to the coffee machines, which means that unless they give the maintenance department the budget it needs, they’re putting return to office at risk.


Of all the many current workplace trends, the most important for facility and maintenance managers is the return to office. With more people in your facilities more often, there’s a need to ramp up maintenance, both on-demand and scheduled. But the challenge is that many are now working with smaller budgets due to previous cuts in square footage and onsite employees.

Facility maintenance budgets are an important part of ensuring the uptime the entire organization relies on to get work done. In some ways, it is a plan for the maintenance and repairs for the year, while in others, it is how you set and track targets.

Managers looking to win back their budgets need to build their case using hard data. One option is to conduct a facilities condition assessment for a complete picture of the current state of both assets and functionality.

Another is to frame maintenance as a key element of the employee experience. Recent reports on return to work show that employees see a lot of benefit in the office as a productive environment with the tools they need to work.

By pointing to the role maintenance plays in delivering that environment, managers can make a strong case for increased budgets.

About the author

Jonathan Davis

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