Some construction projects have been delayed or halted as the industry braces for the wide-reaching effects of COVID-19 and an economic recession but in many parts of the country construction work has continued (almost) as usual. It’s easy to feel powerless in a situation like this. While none of us know what will happen or how long this crisis will last, there are a few things you can do to help keep your construction business running while you navigate these unprecedented times.
Put People First
In uncertain times like these, we need to look out for one another. Of course, finances are weighing on many at this time, but the industry needs a strong workforce to get through this. We are already facing a qualified worker shortage, so do whatever you can to keep your employees healthy.
Turn to resources such as the CDC and OSHA to ensure your company is following the latest guidelines. While many back-office staff can work remotely, you may have to rethink your day-to-day operations in order to effectively practice social distancing on job sites. Look to your teams for suggestions and have an honest dialogue: What parts of the workflow need to be adjusted? How many people need to be on the job site at a time? What’s keeping your team up at night? Sure, some projects might take longer but it will be hard for your company to survive another recession without your best workers. As we rebound from this pandemic, it could be an opportunity to hire new talent into the construction sector. Be prepared and creative in terms of how you might be able to provide opportunities for people from other industries such as hospitality, food, etc.
We need technology now more than ever to help keep us connected and keep our businesses running. Many of you have had to close your offices and need to provide remote working options. Reach out to your technology provider to determine which products can be accessed remotely and how. Options can range from remote VPN access to desktops and servers, to cloud services, to third-party hosting. Most technology providers have a customer support team that can help you determine the best option for your company.
When it comes to your construction business, there are also an array of cloud-based solutions and mobile apps to help streamline projects, increase efficiency, and keep your teams in sync. This could be a good time to try that new solution or app you’ve been considering. New technologies can not only help you get through your current situation but can also help improve collaboration and productivity once work returns to a more normal state. Some in the industry are already using this down time to implement new technology while they’re slower on the construction front.
With so much going on it can be easy to put off long term planning to focus on getting through day-to-day tasks. However, make sure your business has a business continuity plan for workplace disruptions. Having a solid plan in place can help your firm survive unexpected circumstances and tough economic times.
While it’s important to have a plan, it’s equally important to be flexible. This is a developing situation so projects can be delayed or shut down at any time. There are a number of other situations that could impact your plans such as the illness of an employee or school closures. Consider some of these scenarios and what you could do to cope with potential setbacks. While you won’t be able to plan ahead for every situation, laying out some options now could help you think clearly and act quickly when a problem arises.
Remember, We’re in this Together
As we all learn to navigate this new normal, questions will undoubtedly arise. There is a wealth of industry resources available, so take advantage of them. Many construction industry organizations have developed resource pages to help keep you informed on the most recent COVID-19 developments. Journalists at construction trade publications have also been doing their part to keep us updated on how this health crisis is affecting the state of the industry.
While these are trying times, it is amazing to watch the industry come together for the good of the community. As many hospitals have experienced a shortage of face masks, the industry has stepped up, with construction firms donating their inventories of N95 masks to their local hospitals to help protect the medical professionals on the front lines during this pandemic. It’s important to maintain our sense of community right now. The construction industry is resilient and together we can get through this.
This article is part of our Managing uncertainty series which offers practical advice and support to help you keep your business moving as we all navigate these unprecedented times.