The construction industry is taking a sizable hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re working for the industry or running a construction business, chances are that your projects have been stalled due to movement restrictions and limited labor capacity. In fact, in the U.S. alone, over $9.6 billion worth of infrastructure projects have been delayed or canceled since the lockdown started due to the current health crisis, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).
But most work sites have resumed operations as lockdown measures begin to ease. As workers prepare to return to work on-site, they will now face several changes in how construction firms operate during and even after the pandemic. With this, here are six notable emerging trends brought about by the outbreak that businesses and employees can expect in new normal operations:
Stricter On-site Health and Safety Measures
Workers are expected to adopt more stringent and COVID-19-focused safety standards to ensure a safer and healthier workplace. Temperature checks for all workers will be required before entering the premises. Shifting schedules and staggered breaks will be observed to avoid crowding of areas. More disinfection and sanitizing stations as well as shields and barriers will be installed across the building site. Visitors will not be allowed, while increased security controls will be observed to ensure that everyone adheres to social distancing policies.
Additional Protective Equipment
Aside from the usual personal protective equipment (PPE), firms are also expected to provide gloves, face masks, face shields, and other necessary equipment to prevent the spread of any disease among their workers on-site. Companies must also provide enough cleaning tools that workers can use to regularly disinfect construction materials and machinery before and after use.
Heavier Reliance on Technology
Technology will incredibly affect how your construction business operates in the new normal. Robots may be brought in to automate highly repetitive tasks and speed up certain jobs. Drones may be used to survey hard-to-reach areas in just a matter of minutes and a safer manner. Augmented and virtual reality tools may also be used for 3-D visualization of buildings and measurement of structures. Blockchain technology may be used to track supply chain movement, while mobile technology may help monitor workers remotely.
Extended Project Timelines
As a business owner, you may want to finish your projects quickly to obtain more clients as soon as possible. However, fast-tracking your operations may no longer be effective in the new normal due to changes in safety requirements. Having fewer workers on-site, doing frequent cleaning and disinfection, as well as extensive workspace prep may take projects longer to finish than usual. Businesses should inform the clients beforehand regarding possible longer project duration to manage expectations. This can also help avoid putting unnecessary pressure on their workers.
Fewer Commercial Projects
The current health crisis has left several businesses struggling to stay afloat. Most commercial establishments have closed as part of their cost-cutting efforts. This can lead to lower demand for commercial projects until next year, according to experts. Such a trend will likely happen in the hospitality, retail, and entertainment sectors. However,
But more construction work can be expected in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries as scientists conduct clinical trials and race to develop a vaccine. More distribution and warehouse spaces may also rise even after the pandemic subsides, as companies will try to maintain high inventory levels and supply chain resiliency.
Rise in Remote Working
The coronavirus pandemic has triggered the biggest work-from-home experiment in history. The construction industry is joining the bandwagon as well. While most construction works are required to be done on-site, some industry workers may be asked to work from home indefinitely. Less critical employees such as back-office support staff will no longer be required to report to work physically until the situation improves. Face-to-face interactions will also be limited as much as possible. Business leaders may turn to do virtual meetings to limit physical contact with fellow workers and clients.
The COVID-19 pandemic will continue to reshape construction even after the health crisis subsides. Job spaces will be cleaner and safer, while technology will become the lifeline of construction work now and beyond. Preparing for these changes will be critical for your business to quickly recover from pandemic-induced fallout in the near future. This can also help you become more resilient in future emergencies. Additionally, embracing these new ways of working will not only ensure the welfare and safety of your workers but will also maintain project progress and productivity in the long run.