The construction industry has always had a complicated relationship with digital technology. Many of today's construction management professionals never worked with laptops or desktops, and despite their adoption of mobile devices, progress was slow and somewhat troubled. Of course, these setbacks make sense.
It wasn't until the proliferation of smartphones and tablets that superintendents and field project managers had real computing power at their disposal. Even with the widespread availability of these tools, tech companies needed to develop industry-specific systems which construction professionals could employ at a job site.
Now, with tech startups poised to disrupt the construction industry, things are starting to look up. Funding in North American construction tech startups surged by an incredible 324% in 2018, and several promising companies in the space have seen amazing growth.
So how can construction professionals bring a modern mindset to their work? How can they redefine the standards of the industry and help their companies step into the future? As long as they follow the suggestions below — and evaluate all their available options — they can feel confident in the lasting success of their company.
New Technologies and Revamped Practices
Construction firms have a limited budget, and new technologies aren't always affordable. Even so, companies have comparatively inexpensive options which won't exceed their limitations. Drones are one of these exceptions, providing a diverse range of benefits for project managers who need to evaluate a job site.
As an example, drones reduce the time and labor involved in producing accurate surveys. In much the same way, they can collect and report data at accelerated speeds, an advantage for companies with productivity issues. They represent an essential step toward accepting and integrating technology.
Alternative technologies also have potential. Construction companies should seek mobile apps to facilitate the daily responsibilities of their technicians. With these apps, technicians can view their schedule in real time, manage assets, see contract details and access other functions.
In short, construction companies can remain competitive and relevant at a reasonable cost. When they choose to embrace these solutions — and revamp their practices — they'll effectively modernize their business. As they take these measures, they'll strengthen their reputation and attract more workers.
The majority of the younger generations are surrounded by technology. Modernizing the construction industry will allow new recruits to apply more advanced technological skills to their work, accelerating the field’s rate of change. In a world where digitization is everywhere, it’s time for industry leaders to embrace innovation and demonstrate that there is a path for tech-savvy workers in the years to come.
Improved Training and Paths for Leadership
Drones, mobile apps and other tech solutions serve a secondary purpose. They differentiate a construction company from its competitors, acting as a tool for the recruitment of tech-savvy workers. These professionals will naturally gravitate toward companies where they can apply their skills and education.
Of course, companies have more direct methods of attracting and retaining workers as well. They can invest in their field workforce through technician training, with routine sessions that support their ongoing education. While it may seem obvious, it's all too easy to overlook in service organizations.
Construction companies can teach new topics quickly through a weekly bulletin, newsletter or company blog that explores different issues. These posts may include instructions for new tools, protocol for existing procedures or even a broad overview of tech startups and their increasingly important role in the industry.
In addition to these changes, construction companies should consider paths for leadership for younger recruits. When they provide opportunities for advancement, they show a vested interested in the professional growth of their employees. This extra support is ultimately beneficial for everyone involved.
As context, companies which offer these paths will foster loyalty in their workers by helping them achieve their career goals, which, in turn, leads to higher retention rates and an increased degree of job satisfaction. Both the employees and employer can reach their long-term goals with far less difficulty.
An Investment in the Future
The construction industry has a complicated relationship with digital technology, but that relationship is beginning to change. Construction professionals should review their options at length and consider some of the suggestions above as they evaluate their organization.
By investing in technology solutions, leadership tracks, and other modern workplace trends, the construction industry can take a much-needed step forward. Leaders will likely see a marked difference in the success of their company. Keeping up with the times will make training and recruitment much easier, bringing in younger workers who can’t imagine a role where technology doesn’t come into play.
Most of all, these professionals should maintain a positive attitude and an optimistic outlook for the future. As long as they make an effort to adapt their outdated practices, integrate modern systems and refine their training program, they'll remain relevant this year and well into the decade to come.