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Managing construction sites during a crisis– 5 things construction managers should do right now

The construction industry is at a crossroads. On the one hand, you have government restrictions enforcing social distance and a mandate to stay at home as much as possible, on the other hand, you have the UK’s construction bodies sending a joint letter to the government calling for support to keep construction sites from shutting down to avoid an economic crisis.

Portrait of serious workers in respiratory masks and hardhats standing with crossed arms on frame bridge in factory shop

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said it would continue building housing, hospitals, and other “critical projects” for the economy until told otherwise. When deemed an essential service, construction companies and contractors are still running to keep projects as productive as possible and minimise penalties. However, the pressure to halt construction work and protect workers against the risk of coronavirus grows, particularly to minimise risks workers face commuting to and from the construction site.

One thing is certain: The standard safety measures and hygiene regulations for construction sites mandated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) can’t apply in today’s world. While there are some situations where people work alone, many site jobs such as roofing works can require 20-30 people working simultaneously.

The 5 things construction managers should do during a pandemic

Across Europe, many businesses have already been forced to shut down. Construction companies will likely fall in line with businesses throughout the country and limit the number of people on project sites. As limiting as working with reduced-sized teams and being off-site can be, there are still ways of keeping construction projects going. Even with the looming threat of total shutdown:

1.      Review safety protocol

As the saying goes: “Safety first!” As long as your site is open, you are responsible for the safety of everyone showing up. Make sure to implement the latest recommendations from the government and the DHSC surrounding COVID-19, including rules on social distancing, and pay attention to any new advice released.  With opportunities to complete essential activities, but ensuring the health and safety of site teams, a new approach to scheduling activity is required.

2.      Keep communication going

Communication is key. Talk to your site team, your clients, contractors and suppliers to understand how they are approaching the situation and how you can collaborate to find solutions and remain in operation. Generic collaboration software, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, can be useful, however collaborating digitally around blueprints will help to focus the team on the project at hand and schedule tasks to complete the work effectively.

READING TIP: All functions of PlanRadar at a glance

3.      Use technology to schedule construction tasks efficiently

Keeping an overview of your project status’, while delegating and communicating with clients, colleagues and subcontractors is a challenging part of the job. Tackling this remotely can dramatically increase the complexity of the task.

Having all site activity on a digital blueprint is a key asset in being able to re-plan the work to be done. With PlanRadar, you can filter by open assignments, due dates, high priority tasks, and types of tasks to be able to get a clear picture of the activities that can be completed with fewer workers on site.

It doesn’t matter if the task to be done is in big or smaller teams –PlanRadar will log all project information, processes and communication chronologically and automatically for you. This saves time in scheduling tasks and managing people on the construction site. Upcoming due dates, progress and status updates will be reported to the responsible person via push-notification so as not to miss any deadlines or compromise important construction project milestones.

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4. Keep track of subcontractors

Beware – delays add up! That’s why working in an online collaboration tool that is built for the construction industry will enable you to track every step taken on the construction site. PlanRadar’s cloud-based software will compile performance statistics based on your input so that you can call them up whenever you need them. In one quick glance, you’ll be able to see which subcontractors are working to schedule, which of your team members is overburdened with work and which party is causing delays in ongoing operations.

5. Shift to remote work as much as you can

To keep your project teams as safe as possible identify the key tasks that need to be done and make sure you and your colleagues have the right work setup that makes working remotely and with a smaller team as efficient as possible.

With a sophisticated ticketing system, you don’t need the whole team on the jobsite at the same time. If anyone can record defects, document tasks and give status updates via a mobile device, a team can work together independent of time and place.

  • For example, have one of your workers inspect the insulation works on the roof by taking photos and updating the respective ticket with all the necessary information.
  • The responsible foreman or construction manager will be automatically notified on the new status and can have a look at the roof works right on the spot.
  • The construction manager can sign and approve parts of the work from his mobile device and set a new deadline for the remaining works.
  • In turn, the responsible contractor will immediately get a push-notification to inform him/her of the new deadline.
  • Meanwhile, the investor can receive notifications on new statuses and deadlines without directly being involved in the specific tasks. By logging onto the platform, he can take a quick glance at key statistics and see how the overall project is going.

Anyone using PlanRadar can work on their tasks this way. Since all the recorded data will be automatically synchronized across all devices you will always get a clear and evidence-based overview of your projects.

Additionally, tickets can be created from the web app and assigned to the responsible parties, without the creator having to leave the office.

VIDEO TIP: Anthony Shaw, Project manager for WRW construction, on working with PlanRadar

In 2020, scheduling construction tasks efficiently is crucial to project success. Use PlanRadar free for the first month and  plan your site to work productively and safely over the coming weeks.