Worker in hard hat and safety vest on construction site; tech resistance concept

Facing Tech Resistance? 6 Tips to Help Your Teams Embrace Construction Project Management Software

If you are facing tech resistance when trying to implement new technologies in your trade contracting company, you are not alone. As the team at Hexagon, a digital reality solutions provider, puts it: “The dawn of autonomous technology in construction is an exciting prospect, promising increased efficiency, safety, and cost savings. Yet, these advancements are often met with resistance and hesitation.”

While there are a number of reasons for this, the most common is simply the industry’s cultural resistance to change. “As an inherently physical, boots-on-ground industry, construction boasts a conservative culture and general preference for tradition,” writes Erica Bickel for The Drone Life. This remains the status quo even though those traditions create inefficiencies on job sites. 

The aging of the workforce also plays a role in the cultural resistance. Older workers tend to balk at new tools and processes. Their reluctance is impactful because they make up a significant portion of the construction industry workforce. According to 2023 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 45 percent of construction workers are over the age of 45. 

To overcome this hesitancy to new tech tools, it’s important to understand the perspective of your teams and to work with them to address their concerns and change their minds about technology.

Why Is Tech Resistance So Common in the Construction Industry?

The construction industry lags behind other major industries in technological advancement. 

“In general, construction has adopted an evolutionary, not revolutionary, pace of change,” notes Mark Erlich, a fellow at Harvard Law School’s Center for Labor and a Just Economy. Those who would carry the industry into the future struggle to overcome the industry’s hold on the old-school way of doing things.

For starters, the industry itself is risk averse. Construction workers are trained to think in terms of risk and how to avoid it. That means “contractors and construction companies are reluctant to adopt new technologies that they are not familiar with, as they fear that these new systems may introduce risks into the construction process,” explains construction consultant Rory Connolly. Changing that mindset to one that is more focused on the benefits of technology is extremely difficult.

The biggest challenge tech adopters in the industry face, however, is convincing workers, especially the older generations, to do things a different way with tools they don’t know how to use. They have been doing things the same way for a long time and don’t want to have to learn new ways of working. They figure the way they have been doing it for decades gets the job done, so why change what’s working. 

And it doesn’t stop there. A lot of these workers are also afraid of the potential impact of technology on their jobs. “There’s always been this fear of…robots replacing human workers,” says Stefana Parascho, an architect and professor at EPFL in Switzerland.

That belief is fueled by a lack of knowledge of the benefits and opportunities new technologies can offer. The workers fear what they don’t understand so resist changes, even ones that will ultimately make their jobs easier.

Breaking through these barriers so you can create more efficient workflows is no easy feat. You cannot simply demand that your workers use new technologies. You have to work with your teams to successfully implement new tools. Here are six practical tips to help you build support for new software.

Trade workers in hard hats using tablet on site; tech resistance concept

6 Tips for Encouraging Workers to Embrace New Technology

Universal acceptance of a new technology won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time for your teams to embrace new ways of working, but there are things you can do to help them along. 

Tip No. 1: Identify Workers’ Specific Concerns About the New Technology

Successfully implementing a new software requires universal adoption by everyone in the company. The first step towards that level of acceptance is to engage in conversations with your teams about the change, especially with those who are showing some resistance.  

Encourage them to be open and give you honest feedback about why they are hesitant to try something new. Actively listen to their comments without being dismissive. Once you understand their point of view, you can work together to address those concerns and win their support. 

Tip No. 2: Train Them on How to Use the Software

Don’t underestimate the importance of training your employees on how to use new software. Fear of the unknown is a driving force behind resistance to technology, so it’s important to properly train everyone to use it. 

“The successful implementation of new technologies in construction depends on widespread familiarity with the new device or software,” writes Evelyn Long, founder and editor-in-chief of Renovated Magazine, for the National Center for Construction Education and Research. “An important step is making sure as many team members as possible get a chance to participate in technology training.”

Focusing on educating your people has two key benefits. While going through the training process, workers will see how simple the tool is to use. The training also gets them comfortable with the new technology before they have to use it in real time. In the end, training increases the odds they will actually use the new software.

Tip No. 3: Implement Elements Incrementally

Construction project management software offers a variety of capabilities to make processes more efficient. While you may be anxious to take advantage of them all as soon as possible, it’s unreasonable to expect users to master them all at once. They will quickly get overwhelmed and push back against using the software at all.

The best approach is to pick one or two elements at a time, let workers master them, and then add more elements. This incremental approach gives everyone time to adjust to new ways of working at a comfortable pace. A slower introduction increases the odds of workers embracing the software rather than being resigned to or fighting it.

Tip No. 4: Lead by Example

Creating a culture of change that encourages technological growth starts at the top. Project managers and business leaders should be the first to use new technologies to demonstrate the benefits to others. 

“Lead by example in embracing new technology,” advises Parvez Ahamed, senior program manager at automaker Stellantis. “Incorporate it into your own workflow, share experiences, and seek feedback. Show your team that learning and adapting are ongoing processes, fostering a culture of innovation and growth.”

Tip No. 5: Share Testimonials to Inspire Adoption

For some people who are hesitant to embrace new technology, it helps to hear from their peers about how it improves their jobs. Seeing others succeed can encourage resistors to change their minds.

Find people in your industry, community, and company who have used the tool you are adopting (or something similar) and ask them to share their stories. Encourage them to be honest about the challenges and how they overcame them. The more your employees can relate to the people sharing their testimonials, the more impact they will have. 

Tip No. 6: Provide Training Incentives to Encourage Use

Sometimes workers need a little extra motivation to try something new. This is where incentives can be helpful. The rewards don’t have to be big or expensive, but they need to be meaningful to your employees. Whether it’s a certificate, a gift card or a Friday afternoon off, what matters is that it’s a reward that motivates.

“Used selectively and with high-quality rewards, training incentives work,” writes EdgePoint Learning CEO Corey Bleich. “The goal of training incentives is not only to get employees trained but to also recognize their effort in the process.”

The objective of these efforts is to get your teams to want to use new technology. As they become more familiar with it, the new software may end up doing much of the heavy lifting itself by proving its usefulness.

Contractor in yellow hard hat using tablet; tech resistance concept

Let the Technology Speak for Itself

The key to convincing your workers to embrace new tools is to show them why they should want to use them. Help them battle their reticence by showing them what the tools can do for them. With construction project management software, like eSUB, your best approach is to demonstrate how easy the tool is to use.  

The software is specifically designed for trade contractors. Its sole purpose is to create efficiencies for field teams and office teams so the business can be more productive and profitable. For example, workers can fill in their daily reports, time sheets, and field notes digitally from anywhere. This can save them significant time during the day on administrative work and let them do more project-specific work.

In the end, everyone benefits from this easy-to-use technology. “I always explain to all my guys that if we are more effective by using technology, then we will save time. If we all save time, we will all be rewarded for that time,” shares Blaze Dorchincez, owner of BJD Construction Management.

Schedule a demo of eSUB Cloud today. You can show your teams how easy it is to use, and get them excited about the prospect of employing a new tool.

Images used under license from Shutterstock.com.