We're hearing a lot of people say “when things go back to normal” in discussions about the coronavirus crisis. But for the construction industry, the current pandemic is changing operations for the foreseeable future, and even after the curve has been flattened and eventually turned downward.
We’ve never seen anything like this before, and we've never needed to make such a paradigm shift. For our industry, things may never return to “normal.” But some of the changes we're making might help create a more productive and conscientious environment where we all can thrive.
We’ve compiled a list of the top three ways in which the construction industry is likely to change in response to the COVID-19 crisis. By preparing, being agile, and leaning into these changes, we believe that your business can remain successful, and thrive, in a post-coronavirus world.
1. Safer jobsites
The current crisis has opened our eyes to the hygienic standards and systems that we may or may not have had in place pre-coronavirus. Even after the risk becomes substantially lower, it’s safe to say that we won’t be stopping our new, thorough sanitizing procedures.
Many contractors have implemented temporary policies such as alternating work schedules, body temperature checks for all employees, and total sanitation of tools and equipment which may not have been sanitized before. Handwashing stations are new on the scene as well, because your office trailer, restroom facilities, and equipment are only as clean as the hands touching them. Not only are these policies important logistically for helping businesses combat the spread of the virus, but these measures will be incredibly important for ensuring that workers are safe, comfortable, and focused once they do return to work. With the realization that the process of returning to normalcy is not going to be like flipping a switch, the extra safety precautions we’ve been taking in our everyday lives will become standard practice at our workplaces as well.
These safety procedures may continue to be enforced long after people return to work. According to Construction Dive, “The new normal will be reinforced by state, local and federal regulations, such as the ones recently proposed in Washington and Pennsylvania, and in the near future, OSHA could require employers to develop written infectious disease preparedness and response plans.”
2. Telework and technology will be prevalent
Many workers and administrative employees in construction have been practicing social distancing and staying home while still fulfilling their job responsibilities. Through this experience, we’ve collectively learned that certain resources can successfully perform roles remotely, consequently reshaping the way many managers are thinking about the structures of their companies.
We believe that because of COVID-19, working remotely will not only become more prevalent than before, but will continue as a long-term or even permanent practice even after the crisis has been resolved. Thanks to videoconferencing tools like Microsoft Teams, companies now can meet and share information virtually.
According to a recent Gartner survey, “317 CFOs and Finance leaders on March 30, 2020* revealed that 74% will move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-COVID 19.” Moving employees who can work from home to permanent remote positions, will reduce expenses significantly as well. “CFOs, already under pressure to tightly manage costs, clearly sense an opportunity to realize the cost benefits of a remote workforce. In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.”
And since more positions' job responsibilities will be performed remotely, cloud-based software solutions are proving to be a key resource in making a successful transition. For the construction industry, cloud-based solutions like VPO make collaborative project and document management from remote locations, seamless.
3. Supply chains will slowly get back up to speed
Even as regions move into the “green phase” and more jobs get the go-ahead to get back up and running, supply chains will unfortunately not be moving at the same pace. If certain jobs require materials that cannot be acquired locally, projects are likely to be slowed down.
Most likely, projects that resume after the height of coronavirus will take longer to complete, and the plans surrounding those projects will be revised to combat known setbacks. Contractors will be rebuilding inventory and securing important materials while identifying alternative suppliers.
According the Harvard Business Review, “After the COVID-19 crisis dissipates, we will see companies fall into one of two categories. There will be those that don’t do anything, hoping such a disruption won’t ever happen again. These companies will be taking a highly risky gamble. And there will be firms that heed the lessons of this crisis and make investments in mapping their supply networks so they do not have to operate blind when the next crisis strikes and rewrite their contracts so they can quickly figure out solutions when disruptions occur. These companies will be the winners in the long term.”
Reconfiguring your supply networks in a different way will not only help you navigate this unusual time right now, but it will also be an investment for future unpredicted obstacles.
The coronavirus has changed the world in so many ways. While “returning to normal” may not be a quick transition to make, we are fortunate to live in a time when we have access to solution options which have been tested and proven prior to COVID-19. Thanks to cloud-based solutions and software that let us connect from virtually anywhere, we can actually stop waiting for things to return to normal and start creating a new normal for ourselves and our businesses.
Let us know how we can help you make these transitions more smoothly and successfully. Whether you’ll be moving some of your employees to working remotely on a permanent basis, or you're looking for innovative ways to manage your jobsite while staying six feet apart, we have your back. Schedule a demo today to watch VPO Project Management Software in action.