Covid-19 has caused a transformative turn towards technology in the construction industry, with platform technology playing a particularly pivotal role, and a significant majority believing the ability to work remotely will be crucial for post-coronavirus operations, according to research from Procore Technologies.
The construction management software provider surveyed 250 UK construction middle managers and above on platform technology, which it defined as “that which connects business applications and stores relevant information all in one place, allowing applications and tech tools to talk to each other. A platform might be used to enable visibility over data or to standardise operations.”
It found that amid the challenges in keeping job sites operational during Covid-19, two-thirds of the construction companies surveyed had rolled out some sort of new technology during lockdown, with the majority (94%) witnessing an improvement in the way their teams work as a result.
Observing a recognition that businesses will likely need to build on a singular, integrated system, the research showed 80% believe that platform technology will play a role in the future of how companies work in construction, with almost half (38%) of these saying they can’t do their jobs as effectively without it.
Procore believes that lockdown has accelerated the demand for digital transformation, and its survey has shown that where the gaps between traditional ways of working and remote working have been most apparent, technology has come to the fore to increase efficiency and connect teams.
Almost three-fifths (58%) of the construction companies surveyed reported that they have seen a higher demand from workers for a way to stay connected and work more efficiently. Alongside increasing productivity and staying connected, the research found that the ability to work remotely is one of the top three reasons construction managers implement online technology tools.
As a result, just over half (52%) of the respondents said they feel empowered to change and apply positive learnings to the future of work. One of these changes could be the use of only one platform technology to help the construction industry excel after Covid-19, compared with traditional systems or bespoke software tools, as indicated by 56% of research respondents. Moreover, 86% construction managers said they would use one platform if they could.
Companies were also increasingly demanding the choice to work remotely, stay connected and be safer. Having the option to reduce the number of staff onsite and the ability to social distance has allowed construction companies to comply with health and safety regulations. The majority of construction managers (52%) who rolled-out online collaboration and productivity technology solutions since lockdown said the safety for their teams has improved.
With much around construction being disrupted, technology has proved the one constant and this is being increasingly realised by businesses, said Brandon Olivieri O’Connor, director of UK and Ireland at Procore UK & Ireland, commenting on the results of the survey.
“We’ve seen contractors proactively making the move away from manual methods and excel towards platform technology. Construction won’t be the same as it was before, with connectivity and mobility driving a new way of working,” he said. “The emphasis will remain on the ability to connect people wherever they are – on one platform – so they can be productive and safe.”
Assessing what platform technology could bring to his organisation, Matthew O’Dowd, group QHSE manager at modular building solutions supplier Elliott Group, said that that the means to work digitally gives a competitive advantage and “ultimately helps us to achieve our mission of delivering projects defect-free – maintaining quality and reliability as well as safety”.
“Technology has always played a central role in the way we work, and this has accelerated as a result of Covid-19,” he said. “Having Procore’s platform technology at our fingertips has enabled us to continue working during the pandemic, and most importantly to do this in a way that has allowed us to make quick decisions and keep everyone connected safely.
“Thanks to this technology, the flow of information has been fast-tracked. We trust that everyone across our team, and our clients, have access to the latest information in one place and in a format that everyone can understand – whether it’s observations or drawings.”