Remote working in the construction industry has been a long time coming, but with the increasing digitalization of the construction sector, working from home is becoming more and more common.
While the daily management of tasks on a construction project primarily takes place on the construction site, many companies are not yet aware that a large part of their operations, especially administrative and repetitive tasks, can already be done remotely in an automated and real-time manner.
Remote work in the construction industry – All requirements in place
A few years ago, it was difficult to imagine a foreman working without a physical set of construction plans or construction workers walking around the jobsite with tablets, but today we’re seeing this more and more. The digital way of operating building sites has slowly but surely caught on. In turn, it has helped the rise of remote work within the building sector. Being able to work remotely or from home has helped people in managerial roles to better adapt to contemporary demands for a healthier work-life balance.
A brief digression: IBM made the headlines in 1997 as one of the first Fortune 500 companies to enable its employees to work from home. Not only did IBM adopt this modern attitude to work almost 30 years ago, but the policy was so successful that by 2009 the company had 40% of its 386,000 employees working remotely.
“Remote work” or “telecommuting” may not be a new thing in other industries, but the construction sector is starting to catch up. Nowadays, many tasks relating to building documentation and defect management can be done remotely. Remote work can help construction managers, project managers, client representatives and other managing positions to offload administrative tasks, save time and money and improve their professional relationships with colleagues, clients and contractors.
Home office & construction site – Reduce on-site visits and increase productivity
We don’t think there’ll ever be a day when a jobsite can be manned by one builder working alone. Although the number of necessary workers has decreased with the rise of new technologies, better equipment and improved construction methods, construction workers will always be essential. As a result, site visits will still be necessary for senior personnel and construction site managers. However, those with managerial roles such as site managers, general planners or client representatives still have other tasks to perform, which are sometimes more important than a site tour or participation in a site container meeting. They are also responsible for checking contracts, interpreting key figures, resolving disputes, and developing strategies and optimization processes. To have time for your other responsibilities while not being overwhelmed with day-to-day operations, you can use a construction project management software to take care of key tasks for you.
Remote working in construction: Digital project infrastructure is the key
For remote work to be efficient you need to have the right working environment and your project members need to be equipped with the right tools. The ideal project infrastructure for location-independent work has to ensure the following:
- Compatibility with all devices (mobile phone, tablet, PC).
- A ticketing system with transparent and retraceable workflows for recording defects, documentation, performance assessment or assignment of tasks.
- The ability to work with digital plans including plan versioning and plan comparisons.
- Capture and easily forward annotations on the digital plans or plan sections.
- A global search & filter function to quickly find all operations or tickets.
- Push notifications to remind you of important tasks, appointments, completions or repetitive tasks.
- Automatic synchronization to all mobile devices and for all project members.
- The option to view important key performance indicators of your projects.
- The creation of reports at the push of a button (e.g. handover protocol, photo documentation, fire protection report, maintenance plan, warranty acceptance, etc.).
READING TIP: All functions of PlanRadar at a glance
PlanRadar – Your solution for remote work in the construction sector
With the PlanRadar app, you have the perfect WFH solution when working in the building industry. PlanRadar automatically saves all processes, makes a decisive contribution to the preservation of evidence and makes it easy to track tasks and services.
The software is currently used by more than 60,000 users worldwide and around 25,000 projects are processed with PlanRadar every week. The areas of application include a range of tasks related to documentation and communication in construction and real estate projects, with customers benefiting from cost savings of up to 70%.
VIDEO TIP: Anthony Shaw, Project manager for WRW construction, on working with PlanRadar
One thing is clear: Construction site managers and project managers can’t stay away from their sites forever. But as already mentioned, you can relocate areas of your everyday business by digitizing and automating processes. The PlanRadar app allows you to do just that while helping you to improve the quality of your site visits on the occasions you are onsite. If you spend less time on tours of sites or on building reviews, you’ll find more time for other important tasks.
The value of switching to digital construction management with PlanRadar has proven itself several times for a range of companies.
WFH with PlanRadar – For quick decision making and easy delegating
The statistics and evaluations provided by PlanRadar enable you to view, analyze and, if necessary, optimize important performance indicators at any time. For example, you can see immediately where delays in project progress are imminent and how individual employees are working to capacity.
Once you have this overview, you can control important processes from your home office.
Clear rules as the basis for home office in the construction industry
An important hurdle that has to be mastered when working remotely in the construction industry is communication among project participants. Working from home can make it more challenging to maintain the necessary exchange of information with colleagues. With colleagues scattered and potentially distracted by things in their home environment, important details can get lost – and nobody wants to be the reason why a colleague onsite doesn’t have the information they need to work.
You should pay attention to these factors when working remotely in the construction industry
- Determine at what times your employees must be available: Arrange fixed working times (e.g. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) so that colleagues know when an employee working from home can be reached and when they are available for phone calls and meetings.
- Ensure frequent contact: This way nobody feels neglected or ignored. Make phone calls or chat via video to promote the quality of a natural conversation.
- Define what work is to be done: Clear task allocation and deadlines will allow you to control the progress of work. With PlanRadar you can easily make the performance of your employees visible, wherever they’re based.
- Trust the competence of your colleagues: Once you’ve set clear structures and rules, remember that flexibility is also a key part of working from home. This means that project members should be trusted to organise their own time and tasks themselves.
The future belongs to remote work
As some construction sites are partially or completely closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the British government asking even mildly sick people to stay home, in the coming weeks the construction industry will discover the gaps in its existing remote work environments and may begin to adapt in time for the future.
Practical experience in recent years shows that the digitization of processes in construction brings great benefits for everyone involved. Companies benefit from more efficient processes and thereby save time and money, while employees appreciate the flexibility of remote work, which can enable a better work-life balance. However, it’s up to employees to maintain their own work-life balance by clearly separating their work and leisure time despite working from home.
The use of various software solutions supports the growing trend for remote work in the construction industry. With the right tools such as PlanRadar, the switch to working from home can be accomplished without any major problems.