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From disrupted supply chains to shifts to remote work environments, no industry has gone untouched by the effects of COVID-19, and construction is no exception. The coronavirus pandemic paused construction projects, reduced an already limited workforce and damaged backlogs around the world. In order to better enable continuity in 2021, contractors should look to incorporate technology on the front lines to support a resurgence of progress and productivity.

The effects of the past year will continue to impact the way construction projects are completed. If overseeing projects in multiple locations, it’s critical to have a constant pulse on varying regional safety mandates and regulations, and remain vigilant to keep employees safe and avoid work stoppages. 

It’s likely that a majority of, if not all, team members are using mobile devices in their daily lives. According to JB Knowledge’s 2020 Construction Technology Report, 92% of the industry already uses a smartphone daily for work. Adopting a digital media platform to encourage open communication across jobs creates a space where everyone can access jobsite information, daily updates or emergency alerts. Such a platform embraces an already familiar behavior of using mobile phones to get caught up with what’s happening in the world and applies it directly to projects. 

Not only can improved communication increase productivity and the pace of work, but it can significantly reduce miscommunications and operational errors, helping avoid re-work. As much as 9% of a project’s total cost is attributable to rework, which typically extends the schedule by almost 10%, according to Navigant Construction Forum. Improved communication across teams and job sites contributes to solidifying a high-performance team culture, which will ultimately help complete projects on time and on budget. 

Implementing a communication platform allows contractors to broadcast best practices and company values to everyone on the job site while also giving employees a space to voice questions, celebrate accomplishments and share knowledge. Using this digital space as a culture carrier will also benefit an organization’s talent acquisition, and at a time when strategic hiring and employee retention is more important than ever. The current labor shortage and high demand for projects will only increase, especially with plans such as President Biden’s “Build Back Better” initiative on the horizon. This demand makes turnover a constant threat for construction teams. In addition, injuries on job sites are linked to high turnover rates.

Investing in tech that supports a connected, high-performing culture will show the craft-level workforce that they are valued. This will help retain employees longer and to end projects on time, under budget and with few safety incidents. With a highly fluid and dispersed workforce, it can be difficult to interact with and empower teams. Mobile-friendly communication platforms allow the creation of a central space for an organization to build a strong culture and encourage senior management to easily engage the frontline through these online networks. 

In addition to helping retain a productive, robust team, investing in new technology can help win work. The more a company can showcase innovation and show prospects that it is a step ahead by delivering the job safely and avoiding stoppages through employing technology, the better the chances are of winning new business.

Construction teams have a lot on their minds, especially now. Human nature dictates people are more likely to make decisions based on the information they remember, and not necessarily what’s correct. With jobsite information changing so rapidly as everyone continues to navigate the pandemic, it’s even more important to provide relevant education, training and refreshers for tasks on the job to protect the quality of work and more importantly, to mitigate serious injuries or fatalities. Technology can help make sure employees are up to date on all required training before a project starts so that a company can ramp up quickly and safely. Utilizing a platform that keeps this information easily accessible will help prepare and plan for what’s needed to start the next project.

Work stoppages on the job site may seem insignificant but when combined, companies could lose 50% of productive time each day in stoppages alone. Utilizing tech on the job has proven to increase operational efficiency, thus increasing hours available to focus on the job itself and protect profit margins. This increased efficiency will also help end projects on time and a successful track record will give companies a leg up on the competition. 

Investing in construction technology simplified projects and helped increase profits in 2020. By investing in technology now, teams will be better equipped and educated, companies will see increased safety, improve the bottom line and ultimately enable continuity in 2021. 

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