COVID-19 and the reinvention of the construction industry

Asite has launched a new research report examining how the construction industry can adapt to survive and thrive in the face of COVID-19.

The report entitled ‘COVID-19 and the reinvention of the construction industry,’ examines, with little prospect of a return to a pre-COVID normality, how industries such as construction must adapt to survive and thrive.

The report delves into the recommendations from the UK’s Construction Leadership Council, who has played a key role in coordinating the industry’s initial response to the pandemic, which has now urged a three-step program of restart, reset, reinvent.

This three-step program, to be delivered over the next two years, is part of the CLC’s Roadmap to Recovery, a strategy to drive the recovery of the construction and built environment sectors following the pandemic and resulting economic downturn.

Restart

In in its restart recommendations, the CLC talked about a rapid resumption of all projects and programs, maximising employment of all those working in the construction industry and supply chain, and minimising disruption due to contractual disputes.

This step of the program is scheduled to take place within zero to three months of the overall strategy.

Despite the high numbers of individuals working from home, Asite has witnessed first-hand how projects can be resumed – and even accelerated – through the adoption of digital ways of working such as video conferencing, highlighting the importance of online collaboration platforms.

Reset

As part of its reset strategy, the CLC says wider adoption of digital technologies across clients and throughout the supply chain will enable better data and information sharing across the built environment to improve efficiency, productivity, sustainability and building safety.

This section of the overall strategy is set to take place during the three to 12-month period of the program.

This reset includes ongoing programs such as Transforming Construction and the Construction Innovation Hub which are championing continued investment in building information modelling (BIM), design for manufacture and assembly (DfMA), digital twins, smart cities, and other process innovations.

Reinvent

If the CLC recommendations are carried through, from mid-2021, government and construction should be focused on applying such digital approaches to deliver better value, collaboration and partnership. These areas are not new additions to the mix in light of COVID-19.

They reflect the UK Government’s continued commitment to its Construction 2025 goals, which include lowering project delivery costs, delivering projects quicker, with lower carbon emissions, and making UK plc more competitive, which were first set in 2013.

This is the final section of the program, scheduled to take place during the 12th and 24th month.

Reinventing construction after COVID-19

A return to old ways of working, or a slightly altered ‘new normal’ will not achieve the advancement the industry requires. Low productivity, low profitability, and low resilience have been caused by fragmented conditions which have been characterised by low margin, lowest-price procurement approaches, onerous and often-adversarial contracts, maximum passing of risk and low investment in digital working and collaboration.

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