We're two days on from Boris Johnson's speech, informing the nation that a second lockdown is required to stop the spread of coronavirus in England and avoid the total collapse of the NHS. With few exceptions, millions of people around the country will be required to work from home from Thursday 5 November until (for now at least) the 2 December.
This is a prospect that many saw coming, but very few will relish.
The construction industry was, alongside those in the manufacturing sector, singled out by Mr Johnson as an industry that should stay open where people can't work from home. And while this may come as a relief to some, the harsh reality is that construction companies took on more coronavirus emergency loans than any other sector since the start of the pandemic. In contrast, almost 4,500 companies fell into financial distress in Q3 of this year.
This data would suggest that construction may yet to have experienced the worst of this pandemic in the UK.
What Happens Now
In the immediate term, the need to keep your staff safe as they visit sites and try to hit the objectives of your business and its clients will be priority number one.
On-site, we saw during the first half of the year that brilliant people on projects up and down the country did their utmost to ensure that social distancing guidelines were followed and people were kept safe. No doubt this was an incredibly stressful time as on-site staff were forced to react to updated information as it transpired daily.
This incredible effort also came at a financial cost, as logistical and practical challenges became the unavoidable consequence of new safety measures. This in-turn saw a reduction in productivity for many trades, disruption to progress, and ultimately delay.
No doubt, these factors continue to be debated at each payment cycle on contracts up and down the country.
An in-discriminatory virus, plus rising cases, means that further guidance as to how sites should be run is a genuine prospect for projects still quantifying that first-round of restrictions. You can find the latest version of CLC guidance here: https://bit.ly/3kReuAm.
Your Offsite Team
Aside from your on-site team, the first part of 2020 showed us that many management staff can work remotely, though some might struggle to complete their usual workload while juggling commitments at home or adapting to the change in environment. Studies have shown that management has the greatest influence on the productivity of projects at every level, so serious thought needs to be given as to how your business manages this change effectively.
There are also many questions to be answered about how far the furlough scheme and business insurances will extend for developers and contractors as the industry remains up and running.
Certainly, there are latent pressures at various parts of the supply chain that are yet to become fully apparent.
Personally, I've experienced moments I would rather not - but very likely will - revisit as we all attempt to deal with the uncertainty of this pandemic. No doubt you and your staff will also face some difficult days and tough questions ahead.
We're a new business, so we're also navigating this pandemic as various countries and territories introduce new measures within their construction and energy industries. But we want to do what we can, and so this is where I want to help.
So, from now until 2 December, for developers and contractors of all tiers in the UK:
Quantitiv will provide free phone consultations with experts on any commercial or programming/scheduling-related issue you're facing;
We'll offer a 50% discount on our usual fees for connecting your team with surveying and planning experts who are experienced with off-site working and can help you manage the shift.
We'll ask our consultants to make whatever concessions they can when pricing for outsourced work to companies in the UK.
If you think there's something further we could be doing for you or your business; I would be happy to hear from you via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or LinkedIn.
Wishing you and your business good health.
Founder and Managing Director, Quantitiv Ltd