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The corona-driven pause is going to bring a difference in the way the industries function. The construction industry, too, won’t be aloof from the impact. What we are going to witness now is a paradigm shift.
Construction sites sure will reopen, but the construction will not look the same as before the pandemic. A plethora of new enforcing factors will come into play, and the construction firms will have to abide by them.
Though the Construction-from-home concept is still a contentious topic and mostly shunned, increasing digitalization is a silver lining for the industry. It's ironic that the industry that always sticks with the traditional approaches is now left with no option but to accept and welcome the digital tools to work.
From a revamped focus on construction site safety to longer project delivery times and the increased influence of organized labor, the virus has overturned many facets of the industry. In this article, we have tried to create an image of what a construction site would look like after the lockdown is lifted.
1. Safer and Cleaner Construction Sites
It is a unanimous opinion that the emphasis on cleaner, less crowded work areas is one that won’t recede even after the virus does. Construction firms will have to include a lot more health and safety measures so that employees are comfortable returning to work. They will be required to begin regular employee temperature checks, and top-to-bottom disinfections of sites, tools, and machinery.
Construction firms will have to implement a variety of new protocols to promote employee health and social distancing, including a ban on carpooling, a 100% mask and glove policy, and a well-stocked handwashing station.
2. Distancing will Stay for some time
There would be fewer group activities and more clearly defined procedures and protocols for even some of the most mundane work tasks. The need for maintaining distance has also changed the way contractors communicate with customers and with project teams and companies have developed unique solutions to stay in touch.
Though the outbreak is subsiding in many areas, there will be measures in place to mitigate risk on construction sites going forward. The contractors would resort to remote technology for inspections, a trend that will continue even after the health crisis is over. It is opined that 360-degree photos and videos would form the daily progress reports.
3. Extended Project Spans
Execution will now take a little longer because we won’t have a lot of people in the same place at the same time. Besides, many of the major safety changes on construction sites will add to the time it takes to complete projects. While it is crucial to keep workers healthy, techniques such as suiting up with PPE, limited activities, and staggering work shifts will slow down progress, and the days of expediting a project may be over — at least for now.
It would be important for the contractors to consider time constraints when bidding out for new jobs. It should be made sure that the contract reflects a reasonable construction schedule. The entire project team, including owners, engineers, architects, and other partners, needs to understand that in the near future, projects will take longer than before to reach fruition.
4. Teleworking will Become more Common
With no option but to stay at home, many office employees will be running business operations via videoconferencing, emailing, and texting to stay in touch.
5. The Variety of Projects will Change
The coronavirus outbreak has remolded the types of projects that will be required this year and, perhaps, for many years to come. Retail, hospitality, and entertainment projects are likely to be in less demand while healthcare construction and healthcare-related manufacturing projects could see more activity.
Lower dependency on Chinese-made building products will create a surge of new indigenous manufacturing-and supply chain-related construction projects such as warehouses and factories.
6. Supply-Chain will Recalibrate
Coronavirus has created a major global supply chain disruption, especially of goods from China. Builders may be required to deal with delays and shortages of items like steel, surfacing and case goods.
If you are considering bidding out jobs, be wary of the contract clauses and suggest to include the clauses in the contracts that allow for as many as five backup sources for materials.
7. Adoption of Off-site Construction Techniques
An increased focus on worker safety will help accelerate the industry move to off-site construction methods. Prefabrication, for example, is believed to be a gamechanger for the construction industry. The process reduces the amount of time you’re required to be in the field, keeping the manpower in a controlled environment, proving to be conducive from a health standpoint.
The climate-controlled environment and assembly-line efficiency of factory production can reduce labor costs and condense project schedules, but the most important advantages like increased site safety, and reduced congestion will take center stage in post-pandemic construction.