How is the MEP, architecture and construction industry coping with the pandemic?

How is the MEP, architecture and construction industry coping with the pandemic?

A month ago, the current situation we find ourselves in seemed unthinkable. Now, coronavirus has taken hold in the UK and the government has implemented a strict lockdown in London and across the country. However, some construction projects have been deemed essential and their teams are considered key workers. Therefore, they are continuing to operate through the crisis. Here, we look at the key challenges for the industry in the face of the global pandemic.

1. Health concerns on site

While many industries can offer their employees work-from-home programmes, building sites can’t operate without construction workers. In this climate, it’s critical that businesses protect their workers’ health by implementing social distancing rules and regulations. No worker should be closer than 2 metres together to stem the spread of any germs from asymptomatic carriers. Moreover, if a worker is sick, they shouldn’t come to work. As many construction and MEP workers are self-employed, it’s understandable they may be concerned about losing pay. Be sure to direct them towards the new provisions put in place by the British government.

2. Absences

As already stressed, if any worker feels unwell, they shouldn’t be on site. However, emergency measures can trigger numerous challenges beyond the crisis itself. For example, if public transportation is limited, workers might find it difficult (or impossible) to reach the site. Equally, with school closures, it’s possible that members of the team will have difficulty accessing childcare. This collateral damage can cause further absences, which site managers will need to manage. In preparation for this eventuality, companies should look to upskill employees to increase the team’s cross-functional capacity.

3. Challenges in the supply chain

Although there haven’t been reports of coronavirus affecting the supply chain yet, it’s certainly possible. Despite China’s aggressive measures to contain the virus, it would be prudent to anticipate delays. For instance, absenteeism could affect the efficiency of production lines in China and increased border controls could slow delivery times. Therefore, management needs to make sure that they have a contingency for these delays.

Prepare your business and yourself

This global crisis demands resilience and the construction industry needs to shore itself up against the challenges on the horizon. The key to ensuring your business, management and crew are prepared is communication. Make sure the whole team is aware of regulations, scenarios and contingency plans. With these things in mind, we can work towards smooth-running projects through the COVID-19 crisis.

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