As COVID-19 restrictions start to ease in the U.K., companies set their eyes on the task of rebuilding. While the economy as a whole suffered amid the outbreak, some industries, like construction, felt it more than others. In the wake of these changes, some wonder how the construction sector can rebound.
Typical construction projects across the U.K. fell by roughly 70% during the outbreak. Even if the economy were to roar back to life, recovering from a loss that staggering will take time. The sector can’t immediately resume work as it was before the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean it can’t recover.
Here’s how the construction sector can rebound after COVID-19.
Adjusting to New Working Conditions
Like in many industries, construction won’t look the same, especially in the first few months. Companies will have to adhere to new safety guidelines, such as the 2-meter social distancing policy. The sector will have to adjust its workflow to meet these new criteria.
With new guidelines in place, most sites won’t be able to reach their pre-pandemic productivity levels. That means many companies will face tighter budgets, so recovery should account for this. The sector should focus on avoiding costly disruptions like contract disputes to stay afloat.
The construction sector should rebound gradually, taking the time to ensure it meets all requirements, both new and old. Now, more than ever, businesses can’t afford any delays or fines. Companies should look for new projects they can take on with minimal disruption and proceed carefully.
Finding New Projects
In the early days of reopening, many construction companies may focus on finishing older projects. As they complete these, they should look for new opportunities, but perhaps in different areas. The U.K.’s construction needs are changing, so businesses should shift to fit them.
The civil engineering sector is one that will see a strong recovery compared to other areas. Public infrastructure, like water lines, is crucial in rebuilding economies after times of distress like a health crisis. Given these needs, construction companies stand to make more money seeking these types of projects.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted areas of need within U.K. society. Construction companies that meet these needs, like improved, affordable housing and health-conscious design, will do better.
Pushing the Industry Forward
Not all the changes COVID-19 will bring are temporary, and that’s for the better. If the construction sector hopes to rebound, it needs to reinvent itself. This should be a moment for construction companies to push the industry forward, not back.
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) recommends that businesses create a more collaborative and resilient industry as they recover. Some adaptations that enable recovery amid COVID provide such a way forward. Embracing energy-efficiency, collaboration and digital technologies can help the sector rebound.
This part of the approach is more abstract, but perhaps the most critical in the long term. The construction industry has been hesitant to embrace data and technology in the past, but it can’t afford to any longer. It will likely take time, but if the sector doesn’t transform, it may not be able to recover, and won’t withstand another crisis.
For a Construction Sector Rebound, Change Is Necessary
The U.K. will always need the construction industry to some extent, so COVID won’t kill it. That said, unless companies start carefully and embrace change, many of them may not be able to stay competitive. If the sector is to rebound, it will have to adapt to the post-COVID world.
No industry can continue to succeed by maintaining all its pre-pandemic practices. The coronavirus outbreak has changed the societal landscape, for better or for worse, and companies will need to adapt. If the construction sector can, then it should rebound, at least partially, before the year ends.
About the Author: Emily is a green tech writer who covers topics in renewable energy and sustainable design. You can read more of her work on her blog, Conservation Folks.