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April 12, 2023 - 3:48pm

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A Little Digitalization Goes a Long Way

The digital transformation is years in the making, but the pandemic put the heat on the digital landscape, especially for construction. The pandemic, the labor shortage, and historic investments in U.S. infrastructure, are creating a perfect storm throughout the construction industry.

In order to meet this massive demand, construction companies will need to be able to rapidly scale their operations by implementing more efficient digital processes and expanding their recruitment efforts.

Every industry has been navigating the same labor shortages, but the recovery of the construction labor market must also take into account the anticipated increase in construction projects following the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill.

At the same time, the construction industry is facing a unique labor turnover challenge: up to 40% of the current labor force is expected to retire over the next decade.

1. Attract Young Workers to Improve Hiring and Retention

As a result of the labor shortage, contractors will need to work even harder to rebuild their workforce by targeting new talent pipelines.

This overhaul of talent recruitment should include attracting younger talent into the profession by providing opportunities for training and development. Construction is an industry that already utilizes mentorship roles with apprentices which lends itself to securing untrained talent as interns before they even graduate which will help expand the overall talent pipeline to include a younger, school-aged demographic before they choose other careers.

Read more about improving hiring and retention.

2. Commit to Going Digital

Construction companies do not need to take an all-or-nothing approach to digitization. You can start by digitizing records, receipts, and construction accounting processes. Digitalization may also include some of the more innovative digital solutions such as implementing virtual reality, 3D printing, and drones, which are becoming more mainstream—but it doesn’t have to.

Automating and digitizing construction processes is a competitive advantage because it allows companies to grow without relying entirely on additional hiring while still being able to offer greater accuracy.

3. Focus on Cybersecurity and Risk Reduction

Companies that are newer to adopting technology—like the majority of the construction industry—can be particularly vulnerable to an expensive cyberattack.

A recent Forrester survey already shows 75% of respondents in construction, engineering, and infrastructure have already experienced a cyber incident in the last 12 months.

At this rate of cybercriminal activity, premiums for cyber threat insurance will certainly increase. The average cost of a cyberattack is now $200,000 which may not impact some of the larger firms, but 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses where only 14% are prepared to defend themselves.

4. Integrate Analytics for More Informed Business Decisions

Construction sites are home to more data than ever before, thanks to the addition of wearables and sensors on equipment that are constantly recording data like air quality, on-site temperature, noise levels, GPS coordinates for vehicles, meteorological data, as well as material and labor costs. However, construction companies must apply digital tools to help process this massive amount of data in order to meaningfully impact their operations and intelligently inform their decisions.

Real time data analytics in construction can identify patterns to improve job site processes that reduce the time it takes to complete a project while also making it safer and more cost-effective. GPS tracking data can be used to optimize the routes of robotic machinery and can even help make predictions to avoid operating issues or slowdowns altogether. Analytics can even be used to determine the best materials to use that are within the project budget and when to order them so they arrive on time.

5. Automate Tasks to Save Time and Avoid Duplication

You don’t have to “boil the ocean”: If you’re just getting started, prioritize the most repetitive tasks, like data entry, that can produce the greatest time savings and return on investment. Automation can be an attractive feature for prospective employees to work for a company that invests in a modern working environment.