Covid-19 lessons title
05 OCT 2020

Covid-19 not all bad news! Positive lessons from the pandemic

Mark Woodward-Smith
Group Managing Director

I believe we are all starting to get tired of the restrictions placed upon us during the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of certainty and direction given by our Government. Many of us miss the social interaction associated with working together in offices rather than remotely.

However, I also believe that construction organisations will draw on the lessons from this period to become more robust, efficient and appropriate for the future of the industry.

On a personal level, because of the change in working practices brought about by Covid-19, I have had the opportunity to reassess my previous views regarding remote working. My background of long hours on site and in portacabin offices led me to think that people who arrived early and stayed late were the most ambitious and, potentially, the more capable individuals.

The restrictions brought about by the pandemic have demonstrated to me that people can work more efficiently remotely and much of the recent work produced is of a significantly higher standard than I saw pre Covid-19.

Consultants and construction industry personnel are beginning to be judged on quality and the results achieved, rather than the number of hours worked.

We are becoming more effective in how we work, and this has translated into construction projects where better and more organised planning has reduced the time needed to carry out certain tasks. This also applies to consultancies; we have recognised that there are better, more efficient ways to deliver a service or product than being seen working long hours from a desk in client offices.

Construction has for a long time been unattractive to graduates due to the perceived long hours and significant travelling involved. Hopefully a balance between office, site and home working will create a more attractive proposition to personnel looking to join the industry.

In particular, an internationally diverse business such as Systech has benefited from the removal of geographical barriers during the pandemic which previously prevented personnel from working on global projects. We can now improve the match and suitability of the consultant to the specific task or role without being incumbered by their ability to relocate to different countries.

Increased regional knowledge sharing by consultants from different countries has also been of significant benefit to our business and clients.

It has long been understood that claims preparation does not need to be carried out either from the site or local offices and we are now finding our consultants are working effectively across different time zones.

Myself and our senior managers are also learning new skills on how to manage consultants and staff from a distance and across different time zones, a new requirement within the UK and Europe where it is now difficult to meet in person.

It is also noticeable that the significant costs borne by most businesses in travelling, down time and associated accommodation costs have largely been removed. Apart from the direct cost savings associated with this, there is also a significant time benefit from not travelling large distances for one meeting.

Finally, in terms of the human side of our industry and business it is noticeable that our personnel are spending more time with their families and when we organise social events (teams no greater than 6), individuals are more appreciative of their time together with work colleagues. Hopefully their partners are also enjoying spending more time together!

I, like many others, miss the human interaction of working in close proximity to our personnel and clients, but I do believe that once we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions, we will all recognise the lessons from working through these challenging times and the benefits these have driven in our businesses and the industry as a whole.

"I, like many others, miss the human interaction of working in close proximity to our personnel and clients, but I do believe that once we emerge from the Covid-19 restrictions, we will all recognise the lessons from working through these challenging times and the benefits these have driven in our businesses and the industry as a whole."