A Look Into the Reformed Construction Industry After COVID-19
One in many companies belonging to the same industry could consider itself fortunate, of course, while giving due props to their managers, if they manage to implement expansion plans, both domestic and overseas, while the pandemic is still in full blow. Investors can view this as an exhibition of unprecedented resilience. But, more than just a marketing tactic expanding today takes a faithful commitment from leaders, keeping in mind the livelihoods that depend on their decisions.
The real estate industry, on the other hand, is at somewhat a tipping point of another housing bubble as more and more people ensure they put their major stakes on more valuable assets over transient ones. Add to that a confused young adult population that can’t make a final say about moving out from their parents, working to pay rent, or purchasing a fully furnished house to make practical sense of this crisis. More or less, these are the dominant behaviors that stimulate the construction industry that is, otherwise, in a prolonged lull period.
No one could have predicted how construction would emerge more a need rather than a luxury as both commercial and residential structures are increasingly viewed as vanguards of wealth preservation, more so as starting points of rebuilding the nation. And so, industry experts can only move forward with lessons picked up from the menacing past to build a bridge that can withstand the chaos that is the seemingly unending pandemic in the background.
One thing that is certain and is true to all industries is that successfully pivoting in this unusual playing field requires them to expedite technological advancement amid the large-scale financial turmoil that is holding them back. Most certainly, maintaining top-of-the-line technology makes for teams relieved of the responsibility of making routine decisions and tasks as machines can automate these for them.
And so, they can devote their much-needed energy and competencies to more strategic undertakings, which are all the more needed to rise up from the rubble that settled from the implosive effect of the pandemic to once well-performing bastions, even instrumental sectors of the national economy.
It’s safe to say that the construction industry can no longer delay further neatly separating administrative and accounting roles from those in the front lines. They could take advantage of an abundant network of consulting firms that can recommend to them an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system that best serves their unique needs whether they are more inclined toward the supply of materials, movement of scrap, workforce deployment, or prefabrication.
Moreover, with remote work a trend that is evidently going to stay for some time, everyone from the customer relations to the research and development arm of any construction company can take more advantage of a plethora of online task assistants and more accessible software upgrades. To further drive innovation, we can see a rise in virtual interdisciplinary conferences and material and machinery suppliers conducting online orientations to prime resellers and partners about updates, usage, and upkeep of their new line of products.
Mass employee layoffs were a universal reality among industries. And, for non-essential ones like construction, the economic strain caused by the initial virus contagion surges pushed them to make the difficult decision of letting people go from top to bottom positions in companies to save their business.
To hire back or not is a lingering thought among decision-makers. Several hiring options made it center-stage during the pandemic including open hiring and freelance work.
Despite the significant drop of immigrant worker hires in 2020, the rising demand for them in construction is undeniable, so much that foreign workers account for a quarter of construction laborers and a 77% increase in the number of job postings from May to July 2019 to the same period this year. It’s all thanks to foreign workers that companies can stay afloat despite the still-debatable legality of their U.S. entry, but with industry leaders constantly interfacing with experienced immigration lawyers and the Biden administration, filling in the pandemic labor void is becoming more a reality.
Construction manufacturers are under pressure to come up with longer-lasting materials that can resist weathering in the event a project is pushed for postponement due to logistics and manpower-related issues. In turn, contractors increasingly have to cave to requests of either expediting the completion of a project or chopping it down to segments with noticeable timeline gaps in between to make way for changing travel and work restrictions.
Today, the construction industry that hugely relies on the movement of labor and materials can only fumble in the uncertainty of the future even as it nears two years into this global pandemic. At this point of a health crisis that drags on and on, publications written by industry analysts about how constructions are picking back up in momentum can only fall under the speculation category.
Still, it does not mean stakeholders behind the scenes aren’t yet huddling together to devise ways to navigate this situation that gets critical one minute, then mellows down the next.