25th June 2020
Over the last few months it’s been on everyone’s minds – the global pandemic, which kept many isolated in their houses, was definitely unexpected both on a personal and economical level. No industry was prepared to deal with such a long lockdown. But how did our industry fare? Is construction going to be affected long term?
In a recent survey conducted by Construction Online amongst over 4,000 construction suppliers and contractors in the UK, 87% of respondents felt their business was affected by the pandemic. 47% of the sample group experienced absences of their workforce due to COVID-19 related reasons, and 62% have suspended operations because of the lockdown. However, at the same time, the industry is recognising the level of help available to them and the flexibility they are seeing from their clients. Only 38% have stated that they are expecting significant financial difficulties this year due to the global situation right now (Construction Online, 2020). Interestingly, not many of the businesses are planning to take up the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, but over 72% are expecting to use the government’s offer to pay up to 80% of employees’ salary.
Construction Global predicts that post-pandemic, a lot of work in the construction industry will be done remotely: “Many engineers, architects, technologists, and project management personnel have been working from home during the duration of the pandemic and it is expected that some will remain working at home for the next 12-18 months.”. This interesting change could mean a restructuring for our industry – with potentially lower overhead costs and travelling expenses. Technology allowing us to facilitate this is already here – it’s just a matter of adapting it to our needs.
The way we work when on site changed too – we now have a set of Site Operating Procedures from the Construction Leadership Council which we need to follow in order to ensure safety.
There are positives and opportunities to be found here too – being deemed ‘vital’ by the government changed the perception of our industry. Pulling together to complete the Nightingale hospitals while continuing a number of other projects to expand healthcare capacity gave businesses an opportunity to contribute, and that’s priceless. The increased pride in the job led to better collaboration and communication, ultimately improving the full supply chain.