According to the calendar, it’s time to ramp up construction. According to Coronavirus, it’s time to stay home, reduce work, practice social distancing and flatten the curve. While many construction projects are still able to continue with new safety standards in place, many contracting companies have been forced to put off projects until we return to some semblance of normalcy.
The “Right Way” to React to COVID
There is no right way to react to or to deal with this pandemic. “Moral Fatigue” is the term used to describe the heaviness that now comes with our everyday decisions. After weeks of isolation from friends and family members, many of us are on the last legs of our coping abilities. The stress of constant news updates, the uncertainty of our future and the looming cloud of economic downfall can and does have physical symptoms.
Inside all of this stress and anxiety, many people are trying to do little things to keep themselves motivated, happy and engaged to feel a sense of purpose and hope while stuck at home. For those used to the hustle and grit associated with construction work, finding these tasks and projects can be a little more difficult.
Losing the Construction Lifestyle
For many people in the industry, construction isn’t just a job – it’s a lifestyle. Being a contractor, operator, site supervisor, office manager or anyone else in the industry becomes intertwined with your identity. While some contractors are still participating in projects, some have been put on leave or encouraged to work from home.
Pictures like the one above won’t be happening any time soon.
There are things you can do while at home to keep yourself engaged with the industry, to set your business up for success after COVID – because there will be an after – and to feel connected to your construction family.
These small tasks can apply to you if you’re an operator, business owner, contractor, tradesperson or involved in any other aspect of the industry.
Teamwork, crews, friendships and community are all intertwined in the construction industry. For many contractors, construction isn’t just a job – it’s a way of life.
Use This Time To Go Digital
If being on-site has been distracting you from finally inputting data into an online software or from taking the step to move your company into the digital space, now is the perfect time to do so.
There have been a lot of new programs in the past few years to help digitize some of the day to day organizational aspects of construction. The influx of “tech” has been quick and in a short period of time. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with all the options and just to keep doing things the way you have been.
As the industry advances, however, the ability to work with new programs and construction tech will impact a contractors’ ability to land projects and win bids. Working with tech is becoming a standard that many architectural firms and project owners look for when choosing a contractor.
The Benefits to Digital Tools
It’s not only about staying competitive, either. Using an online cloud-based software to organize your projects and data can improve efficiencies in your employees. Giving contractors easy access to information on-site at any time from any device can reduce mistakes, miscommunication and allow employees to be more independent in following instructions.
Introducing tech doesn’t have to mean grand overhauls of systems and operational processes, either. It’s the small things – using emails instead of letters, leaning on a Customer Relationship Management tool to manage clients or introducing a digital communication system for your employees – that can make a difference.
If you’d like to learn more about managing customer relationships during the digital era, check out our DirtStories podcast with DOZR’s Chief Client Officer – Tim Forestell.
Clean Your Tools (and Truck)
You may have been offsite for a few weeks, now.
How are your tools doing?
Maybe they’re sitting by the front door next to your lunchbox or cooler that you’ve forgotten about. Maybe they’re still in your truck with your work boots. Either way, it might be worth spending an afternoon cleaning your tools – and maybe your truck, too.
Keeping tools clean of dirt, dust, mud or any other debris that can collect on the job can extend the life expectancy of your tools. Add some tool cleaner to a bucket of hot water and soak tools for about half an hour before wiping them clean. If you don’t have specific tool cleaning products, mild soap will work as well.
At the same time, your boots can be brushed free of excess mud and dust. Your hard hat should be stored out of direct sun and in a cool place.
When it comes time to go back to work, it will be nice to hop into a clean truck and have organized tools to ease the transition back to “normal” life. It’s also one of those projects that won’t take a lot of time but will make you feel good after.
Learn Something New About Construction
Although some sites are closed, the construction industry is very much alive. Construction podcasts (link to DOZR Podcast page), blogs (Link to DOZR Hub Home) and webinars are great resources to learn something new about the industry.
The past few years have seen major changes in construction tech and trends. Smart cities, drones, autonomous equipment and robots are the future. Now is the time to dive into these topics and learn what you can about them. As a contractor, it will help you bring new ideas to the table. As a business owner, being on top of these trends can help keep your company competitive through bidding processes in the future.
Reevaluate Your 2020 Goals and Budget
Now may be the time to review your goals and budget for 2020.
Coronavirus has not made it an easy year. Whether it’s prioritizing what kinds of jobs you will bid for in the coming months, deciding to lend out your heavy equipment while it’s not being used or keeping up with new safety standards for construction sites, now is a great time to take a step back and look at the coming months and year ahead.
Be Proactive For Returning to Work
There are a lot of changes that will come out of COVID-19 for the construction industry – health and safety standards being one of them. Take the time now to create an updated safety standard and training process for employees for when equipment is fired up again.
Most likely, there will be questions about what construction companies will be doing to keep their employees safe moving forward. The more proactive companies can be about this, the more successful the return to work process will be.
Some of the major changes on construction sites during this time include reducing non-essential workers on-site at a time, increased sanitation of shared workspaces, limiting the sharing of tools and equipment, encouraging sick employees to stay home and offering more established handwashing and washroom facilities on sites.
It’s doubtful that these standards will just revert back to how it was before COVID. The more prepared you are, the better.
Image borrowed from Field Wire.
Be Okay With Doing Nothing
With all of these tips and tricks in mind, it’s important to remember that there is a global pandemic going on. While completing small tasks and feeling motivated every day is great for your mood and health, everyone is experiencing days where there is no motivation to do anything.
Above all, remember to be kind to yourself and those around you. Once again, there is no “right way” to be coping. As humans, we can only do our best.
As members of the construction industry, packed-full days of working hard and moving quickly are normal. There’s a lot going on and changing in the world – it’s okay to take time to adjust or to enjoy a lazy day.
Day by Day, Task by Task
Whether it’s cleaning your tools, digitalizing some documents, checking out a new Construction Podcast or evaluating your goals for 2020 there are many little things you can do to stay connected to the construction community.
What are you doing to stay connected? How are you spending your time in social isolation?
Comment below and let us know!