Of the many events that rocked the construction industry in 2020, the shift to remote work remains one of the most widespread and resounding changes, with implications that could shape the industry for years to come. Perhaps the biggest challenge presented by remote work, especially for managers, is visibility into our teams’ and colleagues’ daily workflows. How do we make sure there is oversight, as well as trust, with the work-from-home model continuing to dominate our daily lives? How can project administrators show a holistic overview of work being done in real time? What resources can provide us with seamless collaboration and a workflow that gives everyone the data and information they need exactly when they need it?
These questions are especially important given the indefinite nature of remote work, especially in the construction industry right now. The fact of the matter is, remote construction is here to stay to an extent. While there are some helpful remote work tools and best practices to increase productivity and efficiency, including creating technical support systems, utilizing cloud-based collaboration tools, and carving out a dedicated work space, the biggest key to remote construction success comes down to fostering a culture of transparency.
Why Construction Needs More Transparency
While more construction professionals are working from home today than ever before, project timelines and deadlines are still tight across the industry. To make sure projects are on track, transparency is essential for improved collaboration and efficiency, especially for remote construction projects.
Project stakeholders are often quick to ask for more communication and better collaboration. But these values can only be achieved on a project when they are inherent to the entire process, built in from the very first step.
Regardless, when the topic of project-wide visibility arises, many professionals are unwilling to share their scope of work and project data because they find it overly time-consuming. Moreover, many current construction processes, contracts, and delivery methods promote exclusivity, siloed, paper-based information, and hurdles to communication and visibility.
According to Oracle, 45% of construction companies today cite a lack of visibility across projects as among their top challenges.
It comes as no surprise, then, that 45% of construction companies today cite a lack of visibility across projects as among their top challenges. Bringing more visibility to projects and encouraging stronger collaboration, communication, and data, starts with building transparency into the very core of projects and organizations.
The Benefits of Improving Transparency in Construction
At the end of the day, businesses aren’t going to take steps toward implementing processes that don’t result in greater profit returns and a better workflow. Promoting transparency in construction, especially with so many industry professionals working remotely, has many positive effects that ultimately contribute to improving a project’s bottom line, as well as its efficiency and overall success. These benefits include:
- Improved trust between teams and stakeholders for better communication across the entire project.
- Increased efficiency, as everyone has access to the information they need to move forward.
- Better decisions driven by more information and data, giving teams and trades the ability to contribute their specialized advice and knowledge.
- More accountability and higher work quality due to increased external pressure to match other teams’ performance.
- Enhanced safety on job sites, with all team members being informed of everything happening on a project in real time.
- An overall decrease in risk on a project as a whole.
In addition to all of these benefits, creating transparency in construction also reduces rework on projects, which is a huge win. Rework is one of the main adversaries of profitability—and a good reputation—in the way it often puts projects behind schedule, requires the manufacturing of new parts, and drains budgets. Not to mention that rework makes construction organizations look bad in front of project owners. By valuing transparency, prioritizing communication, and making all critical information readily available across team members, you can help mitigate or eliminate the processes that lead to rework on construction projects.
3 Steps to Building Transparency in Remote Construction
While transparency is an extremely important part of any successful construction organization, it’s not an overly complicated thing to cultivate, especially when you have a guide. Here’s a look at three steps to building transparency in remote construction.
1. Build a Culture of Trust
Working with people behind screens can make it hard to foster a real human connection. But people are people, with everyone going through different things at different times, so trust and empathy are essential parts of any thriving organization’s culture. Trust is the most vital part of working well with others in general, but especially when it comes to remote work. High-trust construction firms demonstrate transparency through their internal processes and communications, prioritizing an open and honest work environment to promote confidence among all team members and stakeholders in the overall organization and its abilities.
2. Utilize the Right Tools
Construction teams with remote workforces must have tools that keep them connected. Static programs like Excel no longer make the cut, as they hinder communication and real-time collaboration. When all data and documents are available on cloud-powered, connected construction platforms, any team member can access all relevant project information from anywhere—whether that be on mobile out in the field or from their home office desktop. A strong data foundation can also create opportunities for immersive types of collaboration, such as in AR or VR, through innovative technology integrations across teams.
3. Establish a Single Source of Truth
When you want to learn about the current status of a project, where do you turn to find information? If you need to source several separate documents, get in touch with numerous team members, or open up multiple programs to piece information together, you lack one consistent source of truth. This is especially important with remote work distributing team members across various locations. Creating a centralized platform for documentation, where all project changes can be recorded in real time, will help you maintain transparency throughout a project. With plans and information consistently up-to-date and easily accessible via a cloud-based document management system, all team members can view the current status of a project—both online and offline, no matter where their remote work environment may be.Additionally, a single source of truth helps foster virtual collaboration by providing all team members and stakeholders the same data to work from, and enabling everyone to see any updates or changes to this information in real time. This allows for project administrators to have a comprehensive overview of the project to show progress and momentum—an incredibly useful tool in building transparency overall, and in moving work forward.
Successful Remote Construction Has Transparency at Its Core
Achieving greater transparency in remote construction is a vital part of any successful project, especially as a large number of industry professionals continue to work from home. Staying connected, visible, trustworthy, and, most of all, transparent will to continue to be essential practices in our “new normal” remote work environment. With so many benefits to transparency, taking a few simple steps toward increasing visibility in your organization will move projects forward and create better success outcomes. The way to cultivate transparency in your organization is by building a culture of trust, utilizing the right tools, and establishing a single source of truth that connects all project stakeholders. In doing so, we can build transparency no matter where we’re working from, now and in the future.