The impact of the global pandemic of COVID-19 is far-reaching. The government-mandated shutdowns and strict social distancing rules have greatly affected the way we live and work. The social distancing and enhanced safety protocols will significantly impact how we work, how productive we can be, and how much money we stand to make.
More and more construction companies realize the importance of cloud-based platforms. Sanjet Kennedy of Kennedy Demolition Contractors stated, “This situation has made it more evident that we need to be fully operational on the cloud.” Cloud-based construction project management software delivers a useful social distancing tool by enabling teams to move from paper-based workflows to a digital workflow eliminating the need for paper and minimizing face-to-face interaction. Through mobile apps, information can easily be collected from the field for the office to review whether they are in the office or they are home.
Trade contractors using mobile and cloud-based platforms were off to a great start during the pandemic. The field and office teams were aligned, but now they need to take the essential steps to move their business forward in these unprecedented and uncertain times. How can they ensure their team’s safety? How can they measure the impact these new protocols will make to their productivity? Most importantly, how can you protect your profits during unprecedented times? In this blog, we cover some quick tips on leveraging eSUB or your cloud-based platforms to help your team transition to this new normal.
Reference Safety Protocols from the Field
OSHA has dictated strict sanitation guidelines for construction sites. Individual general contractors and job sites may have specific protocols that go above and beyond OSHA guidelines. Safety is the number one priority, and it’s not unheard of that some general contractors will impose fines to subcontractors for not complying with the new protocols.
Keeping your field team aware of the new protocols ensures their safety. Having corporate and project-level safety reference documentation from the app is critical to ensure compliance.
Additionally, as a best practice Field Supervisors should document safety compliance accordingly. Take a photo of your crew in their PPE and masks. Take a photo at the end of every shift as proof that the crew cleaned up the job site. Note in the daily report any individual who was ill. These additional safety precautions show the importance you are placing in adherence to the new safety protocols.
Document COVID-19 Issues and Work Completed
Daily reports provide the office team and your customer a day-to-day view of what is happening on the job site. Documenting COVID-related issues or safety observations in the daily report is critical. The office and the field must be aligned on what should be captured and documented. Keywords can help focus on what potential issues the field supervisor must record. And the keywords allow photos or comments to be easily searchable and categorized for the office team. For project managers that are very busy managing multiple projects, they can perform keyword searches to help them prioritize their action items.
More importantly, COVID-related keywords allow for the categorization of COVID-19 impact on projects. For example, #covid-changeorder will enable you to document and measure the covid-related items on the job as a whole. Some examples of field notes include:
The virus is still present and threatening; every day must be treated like it’s going to be the last day at the job site. The government may institute a shut down again. Or an outbreak may occur at the job site necessitating closure for sanitation or everyone on site would need to be quarantined. Because of the possibility of a work stoppage, every daily report must document the work completed. Subcontractors should document the work of other trades that can affect your work, as well as overall job site conditions. Because of social distancing measures or labor shortages, all trades may not be showing up to work, impeding your progress. Documenting their progress and your crew’s progress in your daily report can paint the picture day to day to create progress surveys of everyone’s work.
Capture COVID-Related Lost Hours and Delays
Self-performing contractors make their profits in the field. Every hour lost or delayed is lost productivity. Although we are performing under new protocols, schedules and estimates may not have changed. There are unique factors that may hold us up, and that must be documented if there are liquidated damages. Like we stated previously, because of social distancing measures or labor shortages, maybe not all trades are showing up, and it could impede your progress. Sharing this information with the general contractor as it happens creates transparency on how the project is progressing and helps them take action on coordinating different trades to move the project forward.
Track Labor Productivity with COVID-19 Cost Codes
According to Electri International’s Pandemic and Construction Productivity report, the current pandemic demonstrates the necessity of implementing proper productivity controls. Contractors who use accurate labor productivity tracking systems are far better positioned to manage the crisis than those without a system.
Crews spend a significant amount of time on pandemic mitigation activities. Specific tasks that necessitated large crews can now only be completed with smaller crews to maintain social distance. Subcontractors need to accurately track how long tasks are currently taking and compare that to estimates. When you can quantify the hours and document the delays accordingly, you will have a productive conversation with general contractors and owners to understand the schedule and cost implications. This information is critical when negotiating your current contracts as well as developing new baseline estimates for future jobs.
Many contractors have been exploring the use of technology to improve their processes. However, this pandemic is forcing many contractors to change how they work. Now more than ever is when documentation is critical to ensure safety compliance, align field and office teams, and track productivity to ensure profitability.