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Adapting to change: the impact of COVID-19 on construction

  • Publish Date: Posted over 3 years ago
  • Author:by Jay Ashton-Yamnikar

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt across the entire construction industry. Many firms around the UK are facing severe challenges, such as labour shortages and issues with the supply chain. With many sites closing down and companies facing a loss of resources, there’s no question the pandemic has disrupted the built environment. Construction firms need to find ways to preserve their operations and safeguard their workers.

Construction plays a critical role in society. The industry, in fact, represents 13 per cent of global GDP, so it’s important construction firms know how to re-build for the new normal. There are plenty of steps that construction firms can take to overcome these obstacles and recover. Here’s an overview of how businesses in the construction sector can adapt and thrive, despite the impact of COVID-19.

Using digital solutions

Technological advancements have created more opportunities for construction firms to evolve. It’s never been more important for the construction sector to embrace and implement digital solutions. According to Think With Google, the impact of the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption as consumer needs have changed. In the construction sector, companies have been slower to adopt digitisation as there have been various challenges around integration.

Interestingly, a McKinsey & Company survey found that only 16 per cent of construction companies reported that digital transformation had delivered performance improvements. However, with the right software and processes, digitization will help construction firms adapt to the impact of COVID-19. For example, more construction firms need to take advantage of project management software that allows construction managers to store their projects in the cloud, and work from anywhere.

Even before COVID-19, more engineers and contractors had been using 4D and 5D building information modelling (BIM) tools. These tools provide contractors with dashboards to prepare, plan and optimise the construction process, from concept to commissioning. This innovative approach ensures smarter construction and allows for more effective decision-making at various stages of the process. As a result of COVID-19, there have been huge losses of productivity across the sector, which has had a major impact on construction timelines. That’s why remote project management should become a priority. Many of these tools deliver real-time information and give construction managers an overview of budgeting with regular monitoring of the project. The impact of COVID-19 means construction firms must work smarter and make sure their projects are still being delivered at a high standard.

Building more efficiency

If construction firms want to emerge stronger after the coronavirus pandemic, they need to focus on speed and avoiding delays. There’s been a greater need for efficiency as a result of the pandemic, so construction firms should consider restructuring the workforce to pave the way for more flexibility and efficiency.

There is no doubt construction firms will need to respond efficiently as the pandemic continues. However, the level of impact will depend on the size of the firm, and whether or not the contracts are with companies who have been heavily affected by the pandemic. Construction managers need to make sure they implement efficient lines of communication with their clients, particularly when nearing the end of projects. In challenging times, communication between clients and contractors is key.

The future of construction

It’s clear the world of construction will look drastically different in the future. As more sites re-open, we will no doubt see more digital technologies and improved processes. In the COVID-19 era, it’s all the more important that construction firms are ready to face uncertainty and have the right tools to overcome any challenge.

While there will always be a place for traditional construction methods, remote software and BIM tools are driving the industry forward. As we move through this crisis, one way to ensure construction companies are always one step ahead is to create a network of industry leaders and share the best practices and solutions. In this way, we can pave the way for a new, more sustainable era of construction.

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