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Economists agree that the trajectory of the current recession has been different from any other. Looking back at the 2008 economic crisis, there are noticeable trends in the construction space that indicate a surge in third-party contractor hiring could be coming in 2021. 

The demand for more contract work will come as no surprise for seasoned construction executives—the share of contractors at U.S. businesses has increased by 15% in the last decade. Contractors are a valuable asset in the construction industry, but organizations will need to prepare for the coming influx to ensure third-party contractors and full-time employees are set up for success to keep operations running smoothly.

The contractor surge blueprint

Managing a substantial influx of contractors on construction worksites can be an overwhelming task. However, with guiding principles in place, construction executives can successfully incorporate more contractors into their operations and effectively manage associated risks.

1. Draw up the building plans
Preparation is paramount to success when managing contractors in the midst of an ongoing crisis. Establishing a list of pre-qualifiers for projects that require third-party contractors is essential.

Key considerations for a successful contractor/business relationship include:

  • assessing the contractor’s insurance coverage;
  • evaluating whether the necessary equipment will be supplied by the contractor or the hiring organization;
  • comparing contract structures to prevent potential liability; and
  • closely examining the contractor’s pandemic protocols, including what PPE measures are being taken and what procedures are in place if a contractor falls ill.

Without the proper preparation, hiring organizations can inherit significant risks like delays in project timelines, incurred costs outside of the original scope and potential liabilities of the construction jobsite.

2. Lay the foundation
The right team of full-time employees and third-party contractors is the foundation of a successful construction project.

Existing full-time employees include onsite management and hands-on workers. Open communication with these team members should be prioritized when increasing the presence of third-party contractors on a worksite. Ensuring existing employees are up to speed on company policies and training protocols can prevent breakdowns in processes with third-party contractors and protect all individuals from additional risk.

While associated risks are always present on a construction worksite, the pandemic only increases the potential for worksite incidents. Communicating transparently and frequently to contractors about additional measures such as pre-shift temperature checks, PPE expectations and safe PPE disposal can help reduce the chances of an infection outbreak.

The health and safety of all parties in any pandemic-era worksite will determine whether or not a project is successful. Keeping lines of communication open and clearly establishing expectations will help worksite managers and executives effectively manage an influx of contractors.

3. Modernize with reinforcements
Like any well-built structure, there is a time and place for modernization. The same is true for the construction worksite. Modern technology, like a contractor management platform, can help executives and directors better manage employees and contractors.

This technology is typically accessible to all parties through an online portal or mobile app. Access to direct communication between parties gives hiring organizations and contractors a leg up in the project relationship.

Contractor management platforms put pandemic-era construction companies at a particular advantage by providing virtual training, significantly reducing the need for onsite orientations and large group gatherings. The data and analytics functionalities enable hiring companies to view contractors’ past performance, professional certifications and training qualifications to determine the right fit for the hiring organization.

These tools also provide hiring organizations with a community of industry experts who help establish industry standards and best practices. With construction companies navigating constant changes this year, sharing information across organizations can help companies determine the best path forward with speed and efficacy.

Despite the challenges of 2020, construction companies can strengthen their businesses with effective risk management ahead of the expected third-party contractor surge. By focusing on planning, implementing open standards of communication and leveraging technology, construction companies can establish a blueprint for successful operations, no matter how many contractors are needed for a project.


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