The spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has had an incredibly negative impact on the construction industry. Project sites are shutting down, material costs are rising, and contractors are forced to slash budgets across the nation. However, out of these trials and tribulations is coming a wave of innovation that can prove to be a lasting benefit to the industry.
Below, a Miami construction lawyer with Cotney Construction Law discusses how COVID-19 is leading to innovation in the industry. Many of these innovations will be easy to adopt while others may take some time. But as is always true in the industry, contractors that are open to adopting new technologies and techniques are always the ones to come out on top.
The Advent of Telework
While construction workers were allowed to continue to provide essential services on the jobsite, many office workers throughout the industry were sent home and allowed to telework. What was likely a bumpy transition at first, soon gave way to an efficient way to conduct business. For years, companies have clung to the idea that they need a brick-and-mortar location to operate, but what telework has taught us that businesses don’t need nearly as much office space, if any, to function normally.
By now, your office staff is using some form of videoconferencing, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom (If you’re concerned about Zoom’s privacy and security issues, there are a number of alternatives available). Coworking space is another innovation yoru company could look into. Instead of taking on a long-term lease, your company would agree to a flexible lease with a coworking company. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic we will likely see an increase in private coworking spaces that could provide your company with an attractive alternative to a traditional lease for more office space than you’ll ever need. And remember, to always abide by the laws related to Telework.
The Need for Social Distancing
With regard to the jobsite, construction companies are seeing a number of innovations that will help ensure that workers are staying six feet apart. Complying with social distancing requirements is a major logistical issue, considering that construction is an inherently collaborative process. Fortunately, new technology is here to make life on the jobsite a little easier. Consult our Miami construction lawyers with any questions you may have regarding COVID-19-related safety requirements.
As reported by Construction Dive, several tech companies are leading the charge by offering software and wearables that can track workers and notify project managers if the workers are within six feet of each other. In addition to tracking worker movements, software like this can recognize hazards and even identify when workers aren’t wearing required personal protective equipment (PPE).
Another tech innovation that can go a long way towards ensuring worker safety is the drone. When last we discussed drones, we debated whether or not it was time to reassess drone use on project sites. It may very well be that time, as contractors can conduct inspections, track inventory, monitor progress, and identify hazards with the use of a drone, all while complying with social distancing guidelines.
A Push for Prefabricated Construction
When last we covered this topic, volumetric modular building, which involves building off-site, accounted for only 4 percent of the entire construction market. In addition to reducing costs and project time, prefabricated construction can help ensure that your workers are better protected from the spread of COVID-19. Because prefabricated construction takes place in an efficient, climate-controlled environment, you can better control how many workers are on-site at once, ensuring that workers are able to maintain that required six-feet of distance.
What Comes Next
While we wait in anticipation for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s nice to see that some good has come out of this terrible situation. The above innovations are a testament to how resilient this incredible industry is, and in the coming weeks, months, and even years, that resiliency will be tested again and again. It’s up to contractors like you to adopt new technologies and innovations to better protect their company and their workers going forward.
At Cotney Construction Law, we’ve dedicated ourselves to ensuring that construction companies are protected from any and all legal threats. If you’re concerned with the rules and regulations named throughout this article and would like to speak with a professional, our Miami construction attorneys are standing by. We can answer any and all construction-related legal questions you may have, including those that relate to safety, business, and HR practices.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.