There is so much discussion about the “new normal” in the building construction industry, but no one knows how the new normal will look.
Right now, many projects are either shutting down, working with restricted staff levels, or expecting to do so soon. Coupled with well-documented existing worker shortages, the result is work is falling behind schedule, and uncertainty about the future looms.
However, the ability to pivot and embrace opportunities will allow teams to thrive, not just in the near term, but when the world returns to some level of normalcy. The key is to develop a set of habits that will make the next interruption less disruptive.
Even with the pandemic, not all projects have to come to a complete standstill – many are still proceeding, but with social-distancing restrictions in place.
Here are a few tips to prepare for when jobsites reopen and teams return to work
Perhaps the most significant pain point for owners, architects, and contractors alike during times of social distancing is limited jobsite access. This is making it hard to understand progress, answer questions and make informed decisions.
Regularly capturing construction progress digitally ensures information is up to date and available so organizations can make informed decisions while working remotely. Reality capture solutions allow a limited crew or even a single team member to gather measurable data quickly.
Access data remotely
Accessing data anytime and anywhere is critical to the future. Providing cloud access to data lets stakeholders virtually visit a site, so everyone has an accurate view of reality. This is particularly helpful for facility conversions that might be required at the moment, such as turning hotels, dormitories or convention centers into temporary hospitals, and for visualizing the prior state for restoring them to their original uses.
In the near-term, access to data will help justify invoices and eliminate over-payments for progress to date. But, looking longer-term, this data will continue to be useful for eliminating some trips to the jobsite, accelerating decision-making, and ensuring integrity through rich, easily-accessed reality data.
If there is a silver lining, perhaps it’s the opportunity to be more intentional about using 3D data, understanding the role of BIM, and managing crews with a better eye toward spatial interaction. This will enable organizations to more quickly resume normalized production levels when able and to better manage jobsites — and resources — in the future.
Truthfully, it remains unclear whether sites will be required to operate with limited staff even after the world returns to “normal” or whether organizations may accelerate the adoption of lean construction principles that minimize crew overlaps to maintain momentum. Spatially-aware management can continue to play a significant role because avoiding crowding and crew overlaps has efficiency benefits in addition to public health benefits.
Some workers may be unavailable now and even after sites reopen. Tapping into reality data is a powerful tool to quickly onboard crews — whether existing or supplemental and replacement resources.
When jobsites reopen, teams will have to train new crews and personnel, and get them up to speed quickly, while recognizing sites could go back into shutdown at any time.
Engage with teams
Right now, there are more questions than answers, and information is fluid at best. It’s crucial to maintain open lines of communication, and be candid about what is known and what is unknown.
Projects are changing, and the pipeline of new projects has been altered. Organizations may encounter continued supply chain disruptions for some time.
The goal is to maintain a level of business continuity while preparing to emerge standing and prepared for what’s ahead, even if it’s hard to predict currently.