Discussion Forum Topic:

Taking the Long-Term View, As We Make It Through the Short Term
Original Comment:
As we enter week four of remotely working and adjusting to zoom meetings and texting co-workers we once chatted with in the hallways, it’s becoming clear that things may never get back to “normal.” And for those of us over a certain age, that can be a little unsettling. But if we take a longer-term view, this experience may make us better equipped to deal with customers and business in general after this crisis is over.

We no longer have to debate whether technology is going to change our industry – we are now living that reality! Consider that in the last four weeks, we have completely changed how we shop, work, socialize, and entertain ourselves. EVERYTHING is done online, on our I-phones or tablets, and through the use of apps. I used to know people who were reluctant to order anything online. Not now. Those barriers were shattered when the fear of running low on toilet paper set in.

But can technology significantly change the labor-intensive construction industry? How can the various players in the industry adapt to the virtual office or jobsite? For starters, companies that were open to telecommuting prior to this crisis are likely adapting more easily than those who were not open to the idea. Can your architects, engineers, and sales personnel access important company files through a cloud-based server rather than in-house servers? Can your salespeople meet virtually with customers to review plans and make changes online in real-time? Will the construction industry finally be forced to embrace and utilize building information modeling to maximize its full potential?

Has this crisis changed how you order materials? Are you communicating more with your key vendors now in anticipation of restarting operations? And suppose all of this happens and buildings and homes continue to roll off the factory lines? How will they be inspected if code officials are required to stay home in the short term? Would you believe that there are some states currently experimenting with skype inspections? They were doing so to address bottlenecks and staff shortages prior to the outbreak. And how many jurisdictions still do not have a process for online plan submittals? How are they coping now?

Technology is no longer the boogie man for some of the old school thinkers in the industry; it is a necessity for business continuity. Get comfortable with the idea, because this genie is out of the bottle, she’s not going to hurt us, and we can’t go back to our old ways.

Right now, I have a desktop, tablet and I-phone in my office. That is, by far, much more computing power than NASA used to send Apollo 11 to the moon! And I consider myself a fairly low-tech guy. Maybe now is now a good time for a top to bottom review of all your processes to determine where technology can help.
Started on April 7, 2020 by Tom Hardiman
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