So much disruption, so much change in a short amount of time – this has had a profound impact on businesses around the globe. Change brings challenges, but it also brings opportunity, particularly in construction, which traditionally has not been a tech-forward industry. It’s like someone has hit the reset button.
We’ve seen technology come into the picture as the first line of defense for retooling businesses to survive and thrive in an almost a sink-or-swim atmosphere.
Remote work procedures were hammered into place nearly overnight in some cases. While this was a quick solution, it also brought inherent isolation issues. Companies had to come up with ways to enable a sense of community among its workers. Besides turning on video during online meetings, management had to figure out ways to enable a better corporate culture for employees working from home.
Encouraging better culture is one way to support employees. By virtue of their personality type, some people just naturally need social interaction, us extroverts out there know who we are. Online social hours or non-work chit-chats can help. Employees may need reminders to take care of themselves during this time of uncertainty and disruption. How can they find their new “center”? It’s been proven that maintaining a healthy work/life balance helps employees focus and be more productive when they’re working.
For some of us, part of the fun of life is rolling with the punches. The reaction to the pandemic has slowed life down a little. Again, the reset button has been pressed. Many employees love the new work-from-home scenario: no commute, no traffic, no rush, more family time, less stress. For a lot of workers, these have helped improve their quality of life.
Productivity is going to be one metric that companies use to decide if workers can and will remain remote or if offices will need to reopen with a modified office environment. Open floor plans in office environments may need to change to walled offices again or spaces separated by plexiglass dividers.
This reset button also enables new work opportunities: tenant improvements. The need for this reset is easily envisioned for restaurants that will need to deal with customer spacing (à la Rainforest Café). Going forward, architecture will need to be innovative in order to make people feel comfortable outside their homes.
Another way companies can shift their building practices in the face of pandemic aftermath is with prefabrication and pre-construction. Not only can these processes save 40%-50% on machinery and tools, they require workers to spend less time in the field. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for construction companies are easier to follow in a controlled environment in the shop.
There has been increasing interest in prefab for the past decade and a major uptick since the pandemic disruption. It’s another reset button. There is decreasing interest in the old process of “let’s just get started and fix it onsite,” and there’s more willingness and interest in pre-planning construction before the project even starts – for instance building information modeling (BIM).
Bridging the Gap Podcast, episode 39 with guest Mark Oden of BIM Designs, Inc.
In episode 38 of the Bridging the Gap podcast, I got to circle up again with Mark Oden of BIM Designs, Inc. and take a deeper dive into this whole topic. Listen today to the full conversation today in “The Remote Workforce: Investing in Quality of Life”.