Innovative solutions help facility managers and project teams move projects forward and avoid risks or delays.
As in many other industries, the construction industry has been exposed to various effects of the pandemic over the past year. One of the biggest hurdles they had to overcome is the lack of access to construction sites. Security restrictions have been put in place around the world, ranging from international bans to restricting two people to any freight elevator that carried dozens of construction workers in one cabin a year ago. Because of this change, site managers had to find innovative solutions to move projects forward without taking additional risks or delays.
Integrating technology into the construction process has become a necessity for many construction teams to maintain communication with everyone involved, monitor the progress of the site, and complete various tasks that are usually done in person. Technology platforms such as OpenSpace.ai offer 3D photo documentation functions with which project teams and stakeholders can virtually follow and visit construction sites that they cannot visit in person. Other apps that offer virtual assistance – like advanced calendars, geolocation, and device tracking – have helped ensure seamless continuity over the past year.
Outside of the on-site challenges, access to raw materials has caused problems with project progress. When foreign steel and timber companies suffered supply chain bottlenecks, many construction companies turned to domestic suppliers. Hence, understanding the global landscape with local market knowledge in finding and sourcing materials was vital. Local connections enabled much of the construction work to continue with limited interruptions.
It’s important to maintain a strong customer experience even when challenges arise internally and externally. As with their internal teams, site managers need to ensure that their key stakeholders and decision makers are informed, comfortable, and satisfied throughout the process. Especially when teams are unable to visit locations, finding workarounds, communicating, and building engagement is important.
An integrated approach that combines strategy and design with pre-engineering and delivery solves access issues and other hurdles at the beginning of the project. Combining these services in one process eliminates the risk of cost overruns, planning delays, and other problems. With construction going on from the start, potential problems can be communicated and minimized during the planning phase with a collaborative attack plan. This enables teams to deliver projects faster without sacrificing quality. Especially in uncertain times, a seamless process and extensive experience can establish a long-term partnership with customers.
An example of using technology and an end-to-end process to overcome significant COVID-19 hurdles is Unispace managing a project in Canada for an American customer. Both the project team and the customer couldn’t cross the line. The team had to get creative to move the project forward while keeping the client informed. OpenSpace and optimized communication between internal and external parties enabled Unispace to navigate the project completely remotely without visiting the construction site. This type of agile process is expected in the future as companies and their customers continue to navigate the evolving real estate landscape.
Managing large commercial real estate projects nationally and globally requires a seamless approach enabled by intelligence and technology in the workplace to keep up with the pace of change. The pandemic has prompted construction and construction managers to push the boundaries and broaden their horizons to include new tools and processes. By using technology, understanding local markets and focusing on the customer experience in an end-to-end approach, construction managers can successfully complete projects even under difficult circumstances.
Tracy Lea Neff is Operations Director for the North America Unispace Delivery Team and all construction projects in America. Neff is the recipient of the New England CoreNet Americas Real Estate Executive of the Year 2017 award and the 2018 CoreNet New England Leadership 2.0 program graduate.