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Addressing short-term challenges for long-term change: how to get construction moving again

The COVID-19 crisis is driving a once-in-a-generation disruption to our market, bringing unprecedented levels of change. This is against a backdrop of pre-existing volatility and several recent contractor insolvency events. While interventions are put in place to rescue the economy and procedures are developed to keep our sector going, much will depend on the construction sector facing difficulties in a collaborative way.

“COVID-19 will force the sector to address some of its biggest challenges, so the pain being felt now translates into lasting improvement.”

To provide a holistic view of industry sentiment, we approached some of our key  construction partners to understand their pain points, learn how their solutions are evolving and what more can be done to support the market on which we all depend. 

What are the main risks contractors are facing?

Contractors believe that the most challenging risks in the wake of the crisis are: cash, impact on revenue forecasts and consequential reduction in profitability. 

While subcontractor sentiment is positive in terms of a return to work, a lack of ability to deliver creates a perfect storm. A sustainable supply chain will  be critical in terms of underpinning future success.

At the same time, all the companies told us that safety was their key priority. It is clear that any activity undertaken to keep the cash flowing must not be to the detriment of the safety of colleagues and their families.

Meanwhile, although productivity dropped at a project level, in relation to the number of trades on-site productivity was up overall. Digital technologies have been on the agenda for a while, but the current disruption is moving them to the top. Contractors and wider project teams have seen first-hand the benefits that new technology can bring in terms of efficiency, coordination, and ability to work remotely.

Future Resilience

As the industry moves towards a ‘new normal’, the shock from COVID-19 should turn into the push that enables long-lasting change. Faced with strict Site Operating Procedures and the risk of lost productivity, new ways of efficient working are being identified.  We are already seeing that collaboration does make a difference and that benefits can be greater if everyone is on board.

The crisis caused by COVID-19 is showing us that things can be done differently; an ‘emergency response’ can be turned into a set of new best practices. However, in order to succeed if will be up to everyone involved to embrace the innovation and productivity advances that will be unleashed by the COVID-19 crisis.

 Download the Arcadis Contractor Survey to find out more.  

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Addressing short-term challenges for long-term change: how to get construction moving again

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