Phil Wade joins the Thames Valley Roundtable to discuss what the industry must learn from Covid-19

There is much to learn from our collective experience of Covid-19, and the construction industry is no different.  I’ve had time to reflect on this experience and recently took part in an industry roundtable, hosted by Morgan Sindall, where we discussed the key learnings from the construction industry, as the sector moves into the ‘new’ normal.

The pandemic led to work stopping at more than a quarter of construction sites across the UK, halting projects that were critically important, but equally crucial was the wider impact and social value that projects and sites had on the communities in which they were located.  However, despite the challenges, the pandemic has led to collaboration, innovation and a collective effort to work together and get through these unprecedented times.  The roundtable looked to discuss innovative ways of working that allowed construction to continue while site workers’ health remained paramount, best practice throughout the sector, the temporary healthcare facilities that were built at record speed and the role of Modern Methods of Construction going forward.

With attendees from both the private and public sector participating, we all agreed that the industry had shown remarkable resilience with a focus on solving problems.  We saw innovative measures such as thermal cameras on site that took operatives temperatures to the use of drones to undertake remote valuations.  We also discussed the speed of construction of the temporary healthcare facilities, which happened through teamwork and working towards fixed objectives, although with the added benefits of no planning delays due to the refurbishment of existing buildings.

We were all asked for our key take away from the lockdown construction experience, the group concluded that we must continue to embrace collaborative working between clients, designers and contractors; foster a culture of openness and transparency; collect metrics and data from this period so we can review lessons learnt; look to reduce supply chain miles to assist sustainability; build on the progress that has been made in being more open about and addressing mental health and wellbeing on site, be lean in our approach to working practices and utilise the tools we have now embraced to work efficiently and don’t go back to the old ways!

There was a majority view that the pandemic provided a great opportunity to embrace Modern Methods of Construction, for reasons that are obvious to us in the sector, including safety, less waste, speed, efficiency and sustainability.  As we move into the ‘new’ normal there has to be a focus on maximising the opportunity that is Modern Methods of Construction, while not forgetting all the lessons learnt from our time in lockdown.  Read the whitepaper here