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How Construction Can Benefit From The Pandemic’s Accelerated Digital Transformation

Edwin Warui

How Construction Can Benefit From The Pandemic’s Accelerated Digital Transformation

It’s possible that in future we will look back at 2020 as the year that changed everything. Yes, the pandemic has been a tragedy on many levels — from loss of life to a devastating economical impact.

Nevertheless, amid depressed economic conditions, the outbreak has also accelerated digital transformation.

In other words, the crisis has been a reality check for industries such as construction that have low levels of digital transformation. 

For instance, according to a McKinsey survey of 899 executives from diverse sectors, the majority said that they have accelerated digital transformation by three to four years.

So what are some of the things that the construction industry can benefit from the pandemic?

Let’s look at it in detail.

#1. Communications

The crisis forced companies that were resistant to the concept of working from home to change their mind. Organizations had to digitally transform their workplaces as a precaution to reduce the spread of the virus and also to be able to operate effectively.

For example, video conferencing enables project managers to track deliveries and remotely monitor a subcontractor’s progress.

Yes, some organizations will revert back to work-in-office policies, but there’s a need to invest in the necessary digital tools to offer the remote-working capability.

#2. Collaboration

The construction industry already had a shortage of skilled workers before the crisis. Physical distancing measures and restrictions on cross-border movement amplified the problem.

The solution?

Engineers and designers can embrace digital collaboration tools such as building information modeling (BIM). The technology allows projects to continue in a digital environment even when the participants are unable to meet in person.

#3. Enhanced Focus on Safety, Cleanliness And Health

The virus has amplified the need for worker health and safety. To explain, policies such as staggered shifts, personnel temperature checks and disinfection of construction sites, tools and machinery are commonplace.

Simply, the emphasis now is on cleaner and less crowded job sites. Also, these safety plans will be important in the future and it won’t be a surprise if they are reinforced by local regulations.

#4. Off-site Construction

Physical distancing is one of the measures that has been used to control the virus outbreak. Implementing the same in a construction site can be challenging as there’s more interaction between workers. So what to do?

Off-site construction involves working in a controlled environment which enables you to actively manage the movement and interaction of your employees. In other words, there’s more structured supervision as compared to building sites. For example, you can adjust your production process to separate individuals or even have small teams working together.

Also, during installation, prefabricated components normally require minimal labour when compared to traditional construction. This reduces costs while still adhering to social-distancing directives.

Lastly, off-site construction helps in sustainability by reducing waste, noise, and air dust.

#5. Use of Online Platforms

After the virus outbreak, construction sites in many locations were closed. Those places that stayed open faced operational challenges and the disruption of supply chains.

As a result, contractors can use online channels to monitor their employees’ wellbeing, order construction materials, effectively manage resources, and maintain cash flow.

For example, a GPS-enabled gadget can track people’s movements around building sites and alert you when individuals come into close contact. Additionally, the technology can send alerts if workers aren’t adhering to protective gear requirements.

And finally...

#6. E-commerce

Shutdowns and restricted activity has resulted in an uptake in e-commerce. And it’s likely that the trend will continue in the future.

It’s also easy to believe that the construction industry is immune to the shift towards e-commerce. But, customer preferences are shifting. Consumers are after convenience, accessibility and transparency — the heart of e-commerce.

That said, whether transactions are between businesses (B2B), or between businesses and individual customers (B2C), construction firms need to embrace e-commerce. It’s a great way to enhance customer retention and satisfaction.

And as you can see above, it’s...

Now or Never

Construction companies need to prioritize digital initiatives. With the right approach, the enterprises will become more agile and more customer-centric than before.

Also, moving too fast with digital innovation can lead to mistakes. The goal is to keep experimenting and sticking to what works.

Eventually, your organization will come out the other side of this pandemic more efficient and effective. And isn’t that what you want?

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How Construction Can Benefit From The Pandemic’s Accelerated Digital Transformation

How Construction Can Benefit From The Pandemic’s Accelerated Digital Transformation
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