Since the beginning of COVID-19, smart construction companies have shifted the foundation of their delivery to future-proof their business. Before the pandemic, one in seven construction workers could complete their roles remotely. But, according to the Fair Work Commission, one in three people in the industry now have less than a one-minute commute to their desk.
While the construction home-based workforce has doubled, it still lags behind other industries in offering flexible workplace opportunities — meaning a loss of competitiveness in winning and keeping staff.
As the Australian workforce transitions to this “new normal”, flexibility in the workplace will need to be embedded in the future. Otherwise, workers may well vote with an influx of resignation letters.
Now is the time to plan to set your business and workforce up for success in this emerging working arrangement balance. Let’s take a look at three suggestions to succeed with a remote workforce:
1. Have a technology roadmap
Technology underpins effective working from home and remote work arrangements. How can a company already managing remote sites or multiple offices and jobsites take its skills and resources in this area and apply them to hybrid working conditions?
Not that long ago, tools of the office trade were confined to the company office or workspace — the old desktop computer, reams of documents in filing cabinets, the facsimile machine and the desktop phone. Much has now changed, and portability is one of the most significant aspects of technological advancements. Laptops, mobile phones, portable hard drives and cloud-based data networks enable smaller workspaces alongside the capability to collaborate in real time from the next desk, room, city, state or almost anywhere across the globe.
Embed fit for purpose technology into and beyond your office environment so your team can be as productive as possible. Rather than team members signing up for tools and platforms ad hoc, your business should have a plan and process to determine the arsenal of technology your team uses.
Some technologies are specific to roles and teams — such as graphic design tools, accounting packages and project management. Other tools translate to value for your whole workforce — from email and messaging platforms to virtual meeting technology, word processing and calendars.
Ensure that your team’s connectivity and functionality are linked through common technology — and work to unlock all the features of the tools you have invested in through a strong training and development program.
2. Construction companies will need robust policies and protections
Remote working has many benefits for both the workforce and industry. The key is to put in place the proper framework and arrangements for your business. This helps to ensure clarity around structure, expectations, deliverables and protections for both you and your people.
Alongside work from home policies, also consider the workplace health and safety aspects and protections that need to be in place for employees who choose to work away from the office or jobsite. Other key protections will include malware guards, IP and IT protection, and updating your insurance policies to protect against outlier events.
Flexible workforce arrangements can add weight to other policies and priorities your business may value, including reducing waste and energy usage, supporting the transition to net-zero through carbon reduction and increasing workforce equality and participation.
Navigating through the myriad of arrangements isn’t simply tied to catering to the new workforce paradigm — these policies and protections are critical for all businesses now and into the future.
3. Build a diverse workforce
Diversification is the foundation of an agile, robust and connected workforce. Why?
- Diverse workforces promote inclusion
- Your team members will bring different experiences, perspectives and expertise to the table, meaning better-rounded discussions about priorities, options and solutions
- Workplaces that welcome diversity often have stronger cultures — leading to better performance and retention.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing that flexible work is all about supporting parents with toddlers or school children. While these staff are critical for your longer-term future, the ageing workforce means many businesses will be home to older workers heading towards retirement.
A flexible environment means everyone can continue contributing to your business success via shorter hours, a hybrid arrangement or special projects. Retaining subject matter expertise and having a transition plan where your older workforce is retained also enables mentoring and development.
Innovative businesses use diversity as their competitive advantage to tap into opportunities like government grants to help establish and build their teams. Grants provide extra support so you can focus on training and development and setting the foundation for a strong, connected and productive team.
Connect to construct competence
Having a technology roadmap, developing policies and frameworks to manage new ways of working and building a diverse workforce are three trends our industry can expect to take shape in the year ahead.
Connectivity is central to success in any workplace, especially one that champions flexibility and remote work. Investing in fit-for-purpose tools for communication and collaboration and unlocking their power through supported training and development will help your business stay on top of these trends.
For construction businesses of any size, or any firm working in the built environment, tools such as Revu help teams collaborate. You can update and share data in real time, so all participants have the right information at the right time to do their jobs well.