Covid-19 presents enormous challenges for construction companies, but the virus will also enhance site safety, accelerate digital disruption and mobilise modular, says Taylor Construction’s managing director Mark Taylor.
While leaders grapple with business continuity and prioritise the health and safety of employees, Taylor is optimistic that “better ways of working” will emerge from the crisis.
The most obvious is an elevated focus on health and wellness on construction sites.
“Construction has always been reliant on people. We have learned about the vulnerability of people – and how to better protect them. While Covid-19 safety measures may slow down some procedures, safe and healthy workforces are more efficient and productive. In the future, people will be less likely to come to work when they are sick,” Taylor explains.
The crisis has also emphasised the importance of mentally healthy workplaces. Taylor points to Safe Work Australia research which finds poor psychological safety is responsible for around $6 billion in lost productivity each year.
“In caring for each other, we will reap the benefits of a stronger workforce, improved delivery timeframes and cost efficiencies,” he says.
Taylor expects to see “productivity wins, unique business opportunities, accelerated digital transformation and permanent economic changes that are both subtle and seismic”.
Technological innovation is “ratcheting up” to support remote working, and Taylor Construction is currently working with partners to explore how virtual and augmented reality can enhance engineering, data collection and analysis, as well as timeframes and quality.
“They also present multiple benefits for remote working, presentation, client liaison and design collaboration.”
Practical applications may still be some time off, though, as “many of these technologies are pioneering, and come with all the testing, false starts and integration barriers associated with breaking new ground”.
Modular building will also gain momentum as a solution to enhance safety and reduce human contact on worksites.
“We’ve already seen modular design find new and impactful niches, such as emerging designs for hospital intensive care units and Covid-19 testing centres using recycled shipping containers,” Taylor adds.
“Even in such difficult times, reflection on our ‘new normal’ gives me a lot to be optimistic about. Co-dependency and facing new challenges seem to make us kinder and more willing to go the extra mile together.”
Established in 1994, Taylor Construction boasts a 250-strong team delivering construction, fitout and refurbishment and property development services throughout New South Wales.