As the American business world scrambles to adjust to new realities, the construction industry is in a unique spot.
This field is not known for its remote work legacy – in order to fix roofing, or frame a building, or install various materials in home improvement projects, someone has to be on site. However, industry leaders and business owners are quickly adapting and presenting new methods of working that comply with coronavirus requirements from state governors.
Case in point: a company called Timberland Exteriors in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.
Reports today show how this company began its remote design and customer communications processes a long time before coronavirus hit.
“Technology has come a long way over the years and we have just really embraced it,” says Marty Waller, Timberland Exteriors regional manager. “We’re prepared, we’re ready, we’re rocking and rolling.”
Other businesses across the country are also taking common-sense measures to maintain distance between individual workers, provide personal protection equipment like facemasks, and stay away from clients during exterior work.
Trade associations are also getting in on steering this industry toward a safer conclusion.
“It’s time for everyone in the building and construction industry to take Coronavirus seriously. Some building sites have implemented good hygiene but ALL sites must do this NOW,” write spokespersons at the Master Builder’s Association of New South Wales in Australia. “Social distancing is vital on all sites, big and small. Everyone – business owners, managers, site managers, all managers, subcontractors and workers, it is everyone’s responsibility to work together to make social distancing happen. Social distancing will mean slower work but slower work is BETTER THAN NO WORK. Everyone in the industry owes it to each other to do what it takes to make social distancing work on building sites.”
Then there’s a statement from AGC of America president Stephen Sandherr asking firms to participate in national jobsite stand-downs this Thursday April 9. In a video message, Sandherr stresses that these efforts will do two major things – first, they will protect workers, and second, they help to reassure the public that the construction industry is doing what it can do.
Despite many limitations and restrictions on how social distancing can work at a construction site, as mentioned in this recent NPR segment, builders and construction companies are moving quickly to change how they address these new safety issues on the job. Keep an eye on how this works, because as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, companies that digitize will be the last ones standing.