How the Pandemic Pushed the Construction Industry Five Years Into the Future

The pandemic propelled the construction industry to adopt technologies that keep workers safe. The future of construction depends on continued adoption.
By Alexandra McManus
August 9, 2021

On any given day, there are a multitude of variables playing out on construction jobsites, from maintaining daily logs to track hundreds of workers to creating daily schedules to keep projects on track. What made an industry that’s arguably about 20 years in the past get a dramatic technology boost five years into the future? A global pandemic that nobody saw coming.

When COVID-19 made its first appearance on construction sites in early 2020, the domino effect of project shutdowns and labor shortages created uncertainty along with budget and timeline nightmares. The pandemic shook up the industry, with many projects coming to a screeching halt. As general contractors scrambled to keep their projects moving and workers safe, technology proved to be the solution.

With jobsites shutting down, coupled with a nationwide labor shortage, real-time visibility over workforce variables, such as who was on-site, where they were and who they interacted with was more important than ever. Safe proximity tracking, virtual density and access control technologies helped construction companies gain more control, visibility and the ability to deal with the ever-changing regulations due to the global pandemic. More importantly, it helped keep their valuable workforce safe.

Technology Just Makes Sense

On a busy jobsite with hundreds of people coming and going every day, technology became the friend general contractors could trust in times of uncertainty. Contractors began to rely more on virtual meetings, chat sessions and texts and text reporting of issues. Many experimented with wearables for workforce tracking.

The focus on safety went beyond tool safety and OSHA’s fatal four to focus on worker health and who they may have come into contact with and where. This level of workforce visibility provided a better understanding of what was happening on a jobsite and enabled more accurate safety reporting.

Projects with tracking technologies in place, such as hospitals and data centers, were able to resume construction because of their ability to quickly adapt to uncertain COVID-19 restrictions.

Contractors using safe proximity tracking and access control solutions could manage daily logs and compliance digitally. As projects that were delayed due to the pandemic resume, there will be an extremely busy summer construction season. Tracking labor efficiency and safety concerns will be crucial to operate efficiently and react to emergencies.

Better Prepared for What’s Next

Since the pandemic, the construction industry is better prepared to develop response plans to a crisis. However, the pandemic has exposed weaknesses. Expect to see hybrid forms of construction and manufacturing where repeatable volumetric solutions become the norm. As schedule pressures increase against a constricted labor market, modularization is gaining popularity.

Companies across the globe increased their adoption new tech solutions and rolled out new processes due to the availability of software, robotics, digitization and wearables. As the construction industry adjusts to the new normal, its future depends on what construction companies and their teams do next. The domino effect of projects that shut down in 2020 resuming work in addition to new projects means contractors will have to manage workers, keep them safe and avoid labor shortages. The adoption and acceptance of technology will help. As technologies continue to evolve, new solutions will become available to help the construction industry keep building more efficiently, safer and smarter lightyears into the future.

by Alexandra McManus
Alexandra McManus brings more than 20 years of professional experience in the construction technology space with business development, creating new markets, revenue growth, operations and leadership. She provides a constant stream of vision and intuition for Eyrus and motivates the entire team.

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