As the construction industry shifts to remote work environments amidst turbulent times, there will be a lot of radical changes taking place amongst most teams. To ensure that your project and team continues to operate efficiently during this time, there are a few key fundamentals that are important to get right. We’ve outlined some of the most important ones in this article to help give you a better idea of how you can improve the efficiency and productivity of your remote team. Unfortunately, successfully adapting to this new environment takes time and energy. It won’t be an easy shift. The good news is that all the steps we’ve outlined below will serve your team even once we are past this crisis. Getting it right now will only strengthen the capabilities of your team and launch your organisations digital strategy leaps forward. So, despite the current situation, these are things we would recommend for a successful digital strategy in any environment.
Find the right digital tools to work with
First and foremost, working remotely is going to require you to take the vast majority of day to day activities to a virtual setting. This includes meetings, planning, design, reporting, supervision etc. At this stage, it is really important that you pay close attention to the digital tools you choose to use. Just because you now have to work digitally doesn’t mean any new digital tool will do. It’s important to analyse your situation and figure exactly what you need your tools to do. For example, you might need a new communications tool that your whole team can work with. Depending on your team size, the appropriate tools can vary. Similarly, this might be a time when you are considering to implement a new design tool or a new reporting technology. Once again, it is important to understand what tool will be best for your team and project. Additionally, you want to make sure that the company behind your tool will act as your new software partner rather than simply a vendor of software products.
Avoid information silos
Construction teams are infamous for creating many different information silos. This creates strict limitations on what teams are capable of doing and how productive they are throughout the project. During this time of crisis, it is absolutely essential that these information silos are dismantled and information flows freely across the project and organisation. This can be a big challenge at first and require a significant investment of time and money. Additionally, it is important to really foster a knowledge sharing environment across the project team and the organisation. This will help encourage greater collaboration and efficiency, even during times of remote work. If information continues to be stored in silos, critical data can be withheld from the people who need it, causing substantially larger disruptions to your projects down the line.
Invest in training your team
Take the time to invest in your team. During this seismic shift in working environments, you are undoubtedly going to onboard new processes and new tools to make your team function as efficiently as possible. Look at signing them up for webinars or online courses that help teach everyone how to maximize the efficiency of remote working tools. We recommend you allocate a few hours a week where your team members can all do this together. This will support the learning process and ensure greater camaraderie during these times of isolation. Don’t forget to include field teams that are still on site. Particularly if you are adopting new technology that they will have to use. Training your field teams to adopt new technology is crucial for your investment to pay off.
Create a support system
Regardless of what sort of training you implement for your team, most people do not learn at the same rate. Remember that you might have a number of staff on your team that aren’t as technologically savvy as others. For that reason, we highly recommend you establish some form of IT support system. This does not need to be a formal company team, it could a be network of ‘super users’ who are more experienced with the software and available to answer colleagues questions. Either way, somewhere employees can turn to ask any questions they want about the tools they are using or how to complete certain tasks virtually, it vital for successful technology adoption. This can be a big relief for many employees who simply don’t have the experience in using digital tools. Again, this does not have to be a temporary solution either. If your organisation has an ambitious digital strategy for the near future, you don’t want your less technically advanced employees to be left behind. You want them to evolve with the business. An IT support system will significantly reduce any friction that digital moves can cause in the future.
Take advantage of this opportunity
Aside from the distressful events taking place around us, this is a fantastic opportunity to take full advantage of. Remote work offers you more time and flexibility to prioritise things that, during regular circumstances, easily slip away. If you find yourself with significantly more time, take advantage of it. Have you been struggling to stay up to date with the most current environmental regulation? Not quite sure what best practice carbon reporting looks like? Or do you perhaps have a set of reporting dashboards that you’ve wanted to consolidate into one for months now? Whatever it may be, use this time to deal with it. You will feel satisfied to have handled it and once the crisis is over, that’s one more thing off the list that isn’t gnawing at the back of your mind.
Finally… don’t be too hard on yourself or your team
This is a stressful time for everyone, both professionally and personally. Even if you do everything in your power to make sure the shift to remote work goes as well as it possibly can, there are always going to be mistakes made and important things forgotten. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting it right. And equally important, don’t be too hard on your team. This is difficult for everybody. By taking care of the fundamentals of remote work, finding a good balance, and being understanding and empathic with yourself and your team, this situation will become much more manageable and you will all come out of it stronger, happier, and more productive.