As COVID-19 continues to spread, companies are struggling to keep their workers safe and their businesses going.
The construction business is among those hardest hit economically, but the industry has not been destroyed—nor will it. Building and construction businesses are making major adjustments to survive the pandemic.
It hasn’t been easy for the construction industry to build its way through a pandemic. International contractors have had to stop some of their projects. Sydney firm Lendlease has halted all nonessential travel for its workers as a response to health concerns. Sans these remote jobs, some building companies will experience a significant decrease in revenue.
Many employees in other businesses have shifted to remote-based work. But this isn’t a choice available to building professionals, whose work is completed at specific project sites. If they stay on the job, construction workers will labour outside with co-workers, increasing their risk.
Another problem confronting the industry is a low supply of materials. In certain regions, the outbreak has prompted supply chain bottlenecks, meaning that certain companies have been forced to delay or halt construction projects. The lack of consistent project work means weakened finances for all firms and could bankrupt smaller firms.
The imposing of logistics restrictions and altered regulations mean major changes in the building industry. But the sector has adapted and made adjustments, geared in particular toward worker protection. Teaming up with other companies and ruling bodies, construction firms have taken proactive steps to navigate rough waters.
While the majority of construction workers can’t work remotely, they can respect social distance guidelines. In adherence with Safe Work Australia guidelines, contractors are employing new techniques to regulate this distance between workers. They are splitting shifts, staggering breaks and designing separate walkways for employees.
Many firms also have put into place stringent hygiene practices. Employees are cleaning sites every day and equipment such as tools and handrails with every use. Gloves are worn by mandate, not optionally.
And, at times and even in this industry, some remote work is available. Building professionals can meet with clients or coworkers over online platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Adaption is clearly the word of the day.
Looking forward to the future, which seems as uncertain as the coronavirus itself, construction companies are creating contingency plans and preparedness schemes.
A prolonged health crisis means prolonged economic impact. Forward-thinking companies have curtailed their operations in anticipation of lowered income levels in the next few months. Though this may mean less short-range profit, it can fortify firms in preparation of an ongoing recession in coming days.
Certain companies are looking to unions and employer associations to support employees. By formulating emergency plans and keeping workers in the loop, they can lessen the impact of more unforeseen changes. It’s unsure as to how COVID-19 will affect the building industry in the future, but the industry is doing what it does best—building fortifications for the future.