By {{Article.AuthorName}} | {{Article.PublicationDate.slice(6, -2) | date:'EEEE, MMMM d, y'}}
{{TotalFavorites}} Favorite{{TotalFavorites>1? 's' : ''}}

Construction, much like the broader economy, faced many challenges in 2020. COVID-19 fundamentally changed how professionals work and left industry experts wondering what could possibly come next. What construction technology and management trends will likely define 2021 and the years ahead?

1. An Ongoing Emphasis on Safety

Safety has always been a vital part of work in the construction industry, with related management positions commanding high salaries and demand. Construction safety took on a whole new dimension in 2020 as efforts were made to keep workers (considered essential in many parts of North America) safe from COVID-19’s spread.

Associated changes such as mandatory personal protective equipment haven’t gone away in 2021. In fact, they likely won’t for some time given the proliferation of COVID-19 variants throughout North America and the many liability concerns that will almost certainly linger even after much of the population has been vaccinated.

Of all the construction technology and management trends on this list, few have implications so wide-reaching.

2. Increased Infrastructure Spending

Leaders in both Canada and the United States have tremendous infrastructure spending mandates to fill. 

North of the border, billions of dollars tied to the Investing in Canada Plan remain uncommitted. While that’s nothing new, construction industry experts have highlighted the importance of committing those dollars to projects as a means of stimulating the Canadian economy during the pandemic.

Down south, a new administration is preparing a monumental infrastructure and clean energy package that is expected to increase spending over the next several years.

3. Remote Work

In 2020, developers of cloud-based construction management software saw a major boost in sales as many professionals not required to be physically present on jobsites shifted to remote work. These software applications have become nothing short of lifelines for the companies that use them. Investors have taken note, with established players like Autodesk pumping capital into startups throughout North America. For construction professionals themselves, mastery of remote management tools will likely be a major asset in 2021 and the years to come.

4. Ongoing Recruiting Challenges

The North American construction industry has been facing a worker shortage for years. Demand simply far outpaces the availability of labor. This has been complicated even further by the pandemic. Many workers—especially in regions with strong stimulus—choose to stay home for their own safety. Measures such as contract tracing and quarantines taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 can also take workers out of commission at a moment’s notice. This all means construction professionals need to be incredibly cognizant of their workforce planning. Failure to do this can result in severe project delays.

5. Protectionism

Prior to the pandemic, North American borders were incredibly porous from the perspective of commerce. COVID-19 has forced not only countries but also smaller regions within them to staunchly defend their economies and take buy-here stances. This is having—and will continue to have—sweeping impacts on trade and the flow of labor throughout North America. Exactly when these policies will cease remains to be seen. Until then, construction companies that rely on inter-regional commerce will feel the effects.

6. Green Building

The entire economy is pushing towards greater environmental friendliness, with car manufacturers like General Motors pledging to eliminate gas-powered vehicles by 2035—something that would’ve been inconceivable not long ago. Construction companies have been leading the way in terms of environmentally friendly manufacturing for some time now, however. This trend will continue in 2021, especially as governments offer specific incentives for environmentally-conscious building projects.

Understandably, many of these challenges relate directly to COVID-19 and the economy’s recovery from it. Long after the pandemic is behind us, however, these trends will have reshaped the construction industry tremendously—hopefully towards a brighter and more productive future.


 Comments ({{Comments.length}})

  • {{comment.Name}}


    {{comment.DateCreated.slice(6, -2) | date: 'MMM d, y h:mm:ss a'}}

Leave a comment

Required! Not valid email!