COVID-19 and the extraordinary speed that the virus has spread is having an immediate impact on the construction industry, pressing companies to adopt new technologies at unprecedented rates. With most American workers in lockdown and construction starting back up again, we are unlikely to return to old processes and procedures. The uncertainty around the pandemic presents an array of challenges for reopening job sites to comply with Shelter in Place orders, compounding construction industry-specific struggles affecting everything from labor shortages, rising costs, to material shortages. But one thing is for sure: the digital revolution is accelerating, having a profound impact on how construction firms will work and do business in the long term.
What’s different now?
Ongoing concern about tech adoption in construction hasn’t gone away. Construction owners and managers who had been taking their time to adopt technology in the field will now find an urgent need to build their digital gang box. The right tech toolset can ensure that they’ll be ready once their teams get the go-ahead to return to the job site. The most user-friendly, intuitive, and seamless apps will win the day. Touchless devices facilitate social distancing, help manage complex projects in the field, paperless communication, and deliver reliable information. But apps need to be tested and field-safe so that companies can integrate tech without causing too much disruption or breaking the bank.
The pandemic is resetting the industry’s reluctance to tech, necessitating new ways of working and enlightening the industry to the broader power and potential of technology. For construction, tech can prevent delays, manage complex T&M scopes, and accurately gather and relay information and data.
Critical next steps
Industry leaders like PeerAssist have based their business model on how data is collected, stored, and shared, focusing on in-the-field operations, and communications between the office and the job site. The pressures of reopening safely in this environment are intense, and managing operations under a new set of guidelines call for flexibility, innovation, and creativity.
Here are three steps to upgrade your tech you could take right away:
#1 — Take a tech inventory. Begin with small changes, taking stock of what devices, tools, and machinery your company has, and shop for new apps that are easy to use, and easy to integrate on a wide array of devices (FWO by PeerAssist). Getting your tech in shape now will prepare your company to meet future problems head-on, such as project delays, supply chain disruptions, and coordinating a dispersed workforce.
#2 — Invest in technology now. Distancing is the new normal, and while it brings challenges, it offers an upside for construction companies. Benefits include better methods for tagging and ticketing T&M, tracking data and charting company trends and performance, and improving communication between project teams. While fast-tracking as we once knew it might be over, for now, technology can go a long way to enhance workflow.
#3 — Plan for flexibility, whether you’ll need to stagger shifts, check employee temperatures, or disinfect job sites, tools, and machinery. Consider how you could build and track these activities through technology. Apps can help coordinate schedules across the entire team, which is useful when meetings may be limited to small numbers or online, people need to work six feet apart, and wear masks in addition to the usual protective gear. Tech will also come in handy in communicating with clients and sub-consultants, as it is likely the number of visitors to a job site will be limited.
Stay safe, and stay tuned for further blogs as we go forward to meet the challenges of COVID-19.