Construction site engineer checking his watch; construction delays concept

3 Tips to Mitigate Construction Site Delays and Reduce the Mental Health Toll on Workers

Construction delays are expected by everyone on a site or involved in a building project. “Getting stuck waiting around is a nearly universal problem in the construction industry,” notes the Trekker Group team. 

But knowing it is a problem and anticipating delays doesn’t make it easier to cope when they happen, especially for field teams. 

All too often, due to circumstances beyond their control, trade contractor teams on the site are left sitting for hours on the job, waiting for their turn to get to work. Those extended wait times lead to elevated levels of stress and anxiety because the work isn’t getting done as planned, and the workers will likely be stuck staying late even though they didn’t cause the delays.

That is, quite simply, unfair to them. Field teams shouldn’t have to bear that burden. Project managers must find ways to mitigate the impact of delays to protect both the integrity of the projects and the mental health of workers in the field. Here are a few ideas for doing just that.  

Incorporate Construction Site Delays Into Project Plans

One of the surest ways to reduce project delays is to plan for them. 

When stakeholders gather to create the scope, schedule, and budget for a project, “brainstorm possible schedule delays with the rest of the project team and build contingency plans for each situation,” suggests Editor in Chief at ConstructConnect Kendall Jones. “You might not need them all, but you will have them ready to go if you do.”

Weather delays, supply chain disruptions, change orders, labor shortages, and clunky approval processes are some of the most common reasons for construction delays and you anticipate many of those.

That said, if you are already into a project and an unexpected delay occurs, you may need to pivot on the schedule in order to maximize your team’s time and productivity. Try to avoid leaving them with too much down time that leaves them feeling unproductive. That lull can lead to feelings of failure and anxiety over deadlines.  

Preplanning and pivoting can help cushion the negative impact of delays on workers’ mental health.

Manage Field Teams’ Overtime

Along with delays comes overtime. Most trade contractors accept they will occasionally be called upon to work overtime to make up for time lost on a project. However, there is such a thing as too much overtime and it has a negative impact on workers. 

A 2021 pulse survey by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation’s Center for Workplace Mental Health concludes long working hours is one of the leading causes of mental health concerns for workers in the construction industry. Numerous studies have shown that overworked employees are likely to struggle with stress, anxiety, and burnout from the lack of down time from the job. 

“A majority of overworked employees don’t have a positive life balance that provides benefits necessary to maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle,” writes Jonathan Kessler, audit and assurance manager at Schlaupitz Madhavan, an audit, tax, and advisory firm.

While it may not always be possible to avoid having your field teams work overtime to make up for delays, anything you can do to manage the amount of overtime they work will be a great benefit to them and, in turn, your project and company.

Exhausted construction site worker; construction delays concept

Create More Efficient Project Management Processes

When field teams do come up against delays, they need to be able to work faster on administrative tasks to help make up for time lost on project work. Digital project management tools can make this possible by:

  • Digitizing paperwork submission processes. Paperwork is particularly stressful when it has to be done after an extended work day. To alleviate some of that stress, daily logs, change request forms, time sheets, approval forms, and countless other “paper” forms can be made digital. These are stored in a centralized location to make it easier and more efficient for field teams to locate, fill, and submit them. 
  • Digitizing photo uploads. Everything on a job site needs to be documented, but procuring and attaching pictures to paper forms takes up an inordinate amount of time. At the end of an extra-long day of work, field teams don’t want to have to spend more time than necessary on that process. Downloading images directly to a centralized digital platform saves workers’ time and reduces their anxiety.
  • Facilitating better communication. Communication between the field teams and front office is critical during delays. If workers on the ground don’t know what’s going on, they may grow more impatient and anxious than if they are kept in the loop. But relaying every update in real time can be difficult and tedious unless you use a digital platform that facilitates real-time communication.

eSUB is that tool you need. To see how eSUB Cloud can help you make up for lost time on the job, schedule a demo today.

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