3 Tips on Reopening Your Construction Business Safely During COVID-19
[ Article was originally posted on www.constructconnect.com ]
The COVID-19 crisis has impacted construction businesses in different ways. Some were able to adapt to the changes and continue business operations with several safety measures placed on the worksite. Other businesses were also able to shift to a remote work model, with their employees able to continue working from home. Still others were unfortunately not so lucky and were forced to temporarily stop operations or even close for good.
As construction sites and offices reopen, your clients, employees, subcontractors, and suppliers may understandably feel wary about sharing spaces with other people, regardless of the safety protocols in place. In order for your business to thrive, you need to plan strategically and gain an in-depth understanding of your customers’ and partners’ needs.
The worst is not yet behind us as COVID-19 still has no vaccine or cure as of this writing. Construction business owners still need to remain headstrong as they face the challenge of reopening worksites and offices to the new normal, while still facing the threat of the novel coronavirus.
Here are some tips for reopening your construction business as COVID-19 restrictions are lifted across the country.
1. Find Reliable COVID-19 Info Sources
Having reliable information on hand is crucial when formulating a strategy for your business’s reopening. There is an abundance of information available on the internet. However, you need to focus on getting your COVID-19 information from reputable and reliable resources.
The best place to find accurate and updated COVID-19 information is public health organizations. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created specific pages dedicated to businesses that are looking to reopen. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has also published guidelines on preparing workplaces for COVID-19. State government websites may also provide relevant information regarding business reopening during the outbreak. It is advisable too to visit the websites of construction industry organizations and leaders to check for specific industry guidelines.
2. Prioritize Employee Health and Well-Being
As a construction business owner, your priority should be the health and safety of your returning employees. Unfortunately, your office space may not be enough to accommodate all of your employees. Some workers who are working remotely will need to continue their work-from-home arrangement. If possible, provide financial support to workers so they can invest in work equipment.
For construction site workers, you may need to be creative in your approach to ensure that fewer people are on the worksite and social distancing is observed. For instance, you may introduce staggered shifts where only a certain number of people are allowed on-site at any given time. You may also have to modify break time schedules to keep fewer workers in shared spaces like break rooms and cafeterias.
More importantly, communicate your reopening plans clearly to your employees, especially those concerning their role in mitigating the risks brought by COVID-19. Send your message via multiple channels to ensure delivery. Finally, emphasize that you are ready to listen to their concerns, answer their questions, and incorporate their feedback into your overall strategy.
3. Prepare the Office and Construction Sites for Reopening
The prescribed guidelines from the CDC requires at least six feet of space between employees whenever possible. Before reopening the construction site, you need to optimize the site layout prioritizing the entrances and exits, the flow of traffic, and gathering sites. As much as possible, you want to prevent the formation of long queues and the buildup of people.
Incorporate new construction technology to make work more efficient and lessen the time needed to finish work. For instance, the use of drones may allow you to complete inspection activities even without being on the site. Administrative tasks such as accounting and lien management can also be done through the cloud with the right software. The use of collaboration tools for project plans, modeling, and data sharing can help maintain social distancing by reducing the need for in-person meetings.
Reopening your construction business in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis is a huge undertaking. However, the limitations and challenges posed by the pandemic may be the catalyst needed for the industry to adopt new strategies that are arguably overdue and move forward to a better future.
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