8 Ways to Rebuild Productivity after COVID
Written By Carol Dunn

On average, electrical contractors are losing 7% of job productivity daily due to COVID preparedness and mitigation. This is according to the May, 2020 Electri International report, “Pandemics and Construction Productivity: Quantifying the Impact,” which presented initial data around the effects of COVID-19 on the construction industry.

Mitigation activities account for over half of this lost productivity (60%) and include distancing, job access, cleaning and disinfection. Additional activities that take 30% of otherwise productive time include safety and training meetings, screening, protective equipment fitting, training, and orientation. Then there’s 10% lost to extra supervision and administration, including paperwork, managing exposure cases and more complex workflows.

From the contractor’s business standpoint, there were three issues on the jobsite that ranked as high to medium affecting the business financially:

  • 89% of them reported impacts from additional cleaning and a greater number of personal protective equipment requirements.
  • 80% of them reported impacts caused by distracted workers discussing the news.
  • 83% noted impacts caused by worker access issues, including limited workforce, temperature testing, staggered shifts, reduced crew sizes, and single access at the work area. One example cited was the time required to populate the work site was doubled because elevators were only permitted to carry half the typical capacity.

As a baseline for making adjustments in change orders, the Electri International report recommends contractors use the 7% productivity loss due to mitigation in addition to a 12.4% overall vertical productivity loss (less project oversight, project cancellations, delays and restarts, digesting additional government rules – adding up to about an hour a day per worker). These numbers can be used for financial forecasting and estimating future job costs.

The report listed some ways companies are salvaging and rebuilding productivity, including:

  1. Make sure your teams are organized and trained on ongoing mitigation procedures and processes.
  2. Be ready to shift work activities and schedules to accommodate changing requirements for distancing.
  3. Plan ahead for longer materials delivery timeframes and supply chain delays.
  4. Make sure you have the right technology for applicable staff to work remotely and for working with suppliers and clients.
  5. If client offices are empty or at minimal capacity, use this opportunity for unimpeded access to sell additional services.
  6. Be flexible regarding the new ways business will be conducted.
  7. Price future work to reflect the decrease in productivity.
  8. Use the Electri International Pandemic Change Order Calculator that was published as an auxiliary to the report as backup when developing change orders around the impact of COVID.

Construction is a resilient industry thousands of years in the making. Challenge and innovation are hallmarks of its history. Many companies will follow the tide of change and adjust to a new way of doing business, continuing to deliver projects during the economic rebound that’s on its way.

If you’re interested in the innovations that will get us there, tune in to the MEP Masterminds virtual event series. With topics like prefabrication, mentoring, collaboration, and embracing disruption, this forum is a professional online source for learning about the developments and technologies that can help you meet the business challenges facing your company and the MEP industry.

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