Tips & Tricks for Working Remotely in the Construction Industry
The pandemic fundamentally changed how employees and businesses do work. According to a 2021 NCCI study, only about 6% of the workforce was fully remote before the pandemic. In contrast, by May 2020, over 30% of the workforce was working primarily from home. That number only grew in 2022, with a Gallup survey finding that 80% of workers were either hybrid or fully remote.
So what does that mean for the construction industry?
Some jobs can only be done on-site. But office workers almost certainly fall into the “remote capable employees” category. These employees are frequently aware that they can do their jobs from home, and a lack of remote or hybrid options from employers helped fuel the Great Resignation in 2022. The construction industry was hit particularly hard by the Great Resignation, as well as an aging workforce. This means that construction companies must not only work to retain their existing employees; they will need to attract even more new hires as their old ones either retire or move on to other industries.
But, of course, offering remote or hybrid options can seem like a daunting task. However, studies show that companies who switch to remote work may save up to $11,000 per employee that works from home. In other words, most companies can’t afford not to go remote.
So it becomes a matter of how to switch to remote. Construction is traditionally very on-site, so setting up the processes and tools to help your team transition to a remote or hybrid workstyle can seem complicated. Luckily at Flashtract, having just transitioned to 100% remote in 2022, we’ve got some tips and tricks we’ll share to make it easier. Video conferencing software provides an easy and remote way for teams to meet from home. The most well-known option is Zoom, but great free options like Google Meet exist.
Improve your communication
- Set a standard of over-communicating. The biggest struggle with remote working is communication. Numerous messenger tools can facilitate quick answers since email is only sometimes the most effective option. We use Slack here at Flashtract, but Google and Microsoft offer excellent services if your office already uses these platforms.
- Schedule daily “stand-up meetings” or water cooler talks to help keep your team in the loop and know what others are working on. This activity can also help prevent team members from feeling isolated. These meetings are quick and efficient to address any blockers that may keep employees from moving tasks or projects forward.
Help employees feel connected & productive
- Keeping your team focused on the big picture is essential, but checking in on their mental health regularly is important. Those not accustomed to remote work may need help working independently daily. Team members and management remembering to incorporate more than just “work talk” will be crucial to keep relationships healthy and morale high.
- Encourage your team to designate a dedicated workspace at home. It is easier to stay mentally focused if you choose a specific area in your home to get work done. Allowing your team to bring their computer monitors or other office equipment home is helpful so they can work as they usually would.
- Host virtual events such as trivia, lunch & learn, or new hire meet & greets to help the team still feel like a team. Hosting fun and optional games, and get-togethers can help everyone feel cheerful and united. All in all, socializing and connecting with coworkers can do wonders for morale.
Improve tools & processes that make their jobs simpler
- Create simple processes and workflows that your team can follow to transmit essential documents to one another. These measures can help prevent necessary or critical paperwork from getting lost in an email. For example, documenting what steps employees need to take and having them somewhere accessible will decrease errors and help onboard new hires.
- Make sure employees can tell quickly what their goals and projects are. A great option for project management is Trello, and there are many other free options to keep teams on track. Trello, Asana, ClickUp, and other project management tools can be useful for individuals or groups.
- Going paperless is our last and most crucial suggestion. Taking physical papers home is not secure and also difficult for employees. They’re easily lost, damaged, or even stolen. Now is the time to transition to digital documentation, and your business will likely see an increase in productivity. Many of the products on the market are cloud-based and highly secure. We’ve reviewed some of our favorite construction industry software in other blogs, and we highly suggest you take a look!
All transitions take time. For obvious reasons, not all positions in the industry can be fully remote. It’s okay to do a little trial-and-error or encounter some unforeseen roadblocks. Getting advice from forums or researching remote working tools is the perfect first step to giving your employees work flexibility.
With so many businesses turning to remote and hybrid options to keep and retain talent, your business must consider if this is the right move. In today’s economy, you may need to assess employee satisfaction, retention, or efficiency when moving to hybrid or remote work. Fortunately, many resources are available to help make the whole process easy for everyone involved.