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COVID-19 has hit the US construction sector hard. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Marketing Index showed a steepest monthly decline among home builders in thirty years. But even as states open up and others designate construction as “essential” there are other problems looming.

According to the AGC survey, the construction sector is hit by a labor shortage. As it becomes necessary to ensure that the workers follow social distancing norms, it may become harder to staff project completely. Then, there is also a significant disruption in the supply chain that could impact projects.

In the face of such challenges, companies will have to think of ideas to compensate for the lost time and accelerate the speed of completing the projects. Construction companies would do well to turn to technology for help. But is there anything more they can do? Is there a solution out there that can add as a force multiplier for their efforts? Perhaps, yes.

Companies can leverage remote teams for work that does not require an on-site presence on the construction sites to ensure accelerated completion of work.

How Can Remote Teams Help In Accelerating Projects?

Remote working in the construction industry might seem like an unlikely setup. But with communication, collaboration, and project management tools at the company’s disposal, remote working has become a reality for construction companies. Here are a few things that construction companies can do to accelerate the completion of their projects while working with remote teams.

1.      Adopt the tele-building concept

Way before COVID-19 compelled construction companies to think of new ways to work, a company called OpenSpace used a photo-documentation solution to enable builders to walk through the construction site with a camera in hand. These photos are then uploaded and organized in a Google Street View type of a vista. That allows remote workers to view the construction site from anywhere. OpenSpace has also come up with a solution called tele-building, which is akin to telehealth where the inspectors, superintendents, and project managers can view the high-quality images of the site, thus reducing in-person visits and saving time and money for the company.

2.      Leverage BIM

BIM, as most know, is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility. It provides the designers, installers, and consultants with a comprehensive view of the project. It provides support with interoperability, flexibility, and customization, which can help companies to build better plans, organize the efforts of teams better, estimate material requirements more proactively, and drive more clearly aligned on-site delivery. This will help them save their time and lead to successful execution – an imperative in the current times. With BIM, companies can create comprehensive construction documentation, which can guide the designers, architects, and contractors to follow the sequences and ensure an error-free execution. And of course, the BIM models could be created by remote teams. For small and mid-sized construction companies, this is an even more significant benefit since they can access the top experts in the space without being constrained by location. In fact, this opens up promising collaborative avenues for such small and mid-sized construction companies. In areas like BIM, they can choose to ally with partners who have the expertise and experience to support them. This team can support the on-site construction remotely and amplify the overall impact.

3.      Use next-gen technologies

Rapid innovation is the order of the day, and technology is one enabler that can make it possible. Apart from BIM, construction companies must use next-gen technologies such as AR, VR, and Drones to stay ahead of the curve and to reduce the need for going onsite. Technologies such as AR and VR can help the offsite extended construction team to detect errors early on and resolve them before they become expensive mistakes. It also helps optimize the workforce as these technologies can create scaled virtual models of the site, which can be evaluated easily by the remote team.  Drones can fly around to monitor and deliver supplies. Some construction companies are also considering using robots to automate basic tasks at the site. As is the norm today, these high-tech devices can be operated and controlled extremely effectively from offsite locations.

4.      Comply with safety standards

While a lot of work can be done remotely, workers will always be needed on the site. Companies have to ensure that these workers are safe and that they comply with the safety guidelines laid down by the government. Companies can provide project managers and directors with access to software that can provide them with data on safety procedures followed in the site and maintain safety remotely based on the data received. On-site information could be gathered by smart wearables using the latest Internet of Things (IoT) technology that enables these remote managers to access the most current information to enable better monitoring, tracking, and compliance.

These are strange times. But that will not prevent companies from starting construction work again. Companies have to adjust to the new normal and find ways to complete the projects. It’s now crucial to embrace digitization. But no one believes that this will be easy. We would recommend choosing collaboration tools that will help the architects, designers, engineers, and other important stakeholders to collaborate with each other while working remotely. Companies will also need to train employees to adapt to digital tools and learn to use them to their advantage. Considering that technology may well be the primary driver of productivity, bringing about a mindset change may become imperative to ensure the smooth functioning of routine tasks. Of course, this is hard to do without expert support. We, at Excelize Services, have been helping companies to embrace the power of BIM so that they can complete their projects on time in a cost-effective way. We offer a winning combination of onshore and offsite support to enable construction companies to adopt the best technology and kick off their own technology initiatives to achieve challenging business goals.

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