The construction industry is one of the primary engines of the economy. With plenty of stakeholders, including investors, contractors, suppliers, and construction workers, the industry reopening its construction sites is a hopeful sign that the country is rising from its paralysis caused by COVID-19.
However, the worst is not yet behind us. At the time of this writing, there is no vaccine or cure available yet to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Even if you implement the necessary safety protocols, your clients and employees, as well as your subcontractors and suppliers, may be apprehensive about sharing spaces with other people. The global supply chain issues that were present during the onset of the pandemic still exist. Finally, all COVID-19 strategies will require you to invest time and resources that you may not have readily available.
Finally reopening your construction business? Here are some tips on reopening as lockdown measures are lifted across the country.
1. Plan your strategy based on reliable COVID-19 sources
Before you actually call your employees to work and contact your clients and contractors, you first need to ensure that you have reliable COVID-19 sources. This critical information is your basis for creating your reopening strategy.
The internet is the best place to look for COVID-19 information. But with plenty of websites churning out information, the internet can also be prone to misinformation. You should trust only COVID-19 information that’s from reputable and reliable sources.
Public health organizations are your best chance to get accurate and updated COVID-19 guidelines for your business. The Centers for Disease Control and Production have created resource pages specifically for business owners who are looking to restart operations.
For more industry-specific resources, you may refer to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s guidelines on preparing construction sites for COVID-19. Other useful resources include your state government’s website, which may provide additional reopening guidelines specific to your state, and thought leadership blogs from construction industry leaders.
2. Assess your financial standing
Another thing you need to get on top of is your current financial standing. The construction industry and the entire economy are still in the recovery stage and we are still quite far from our status before COVID-19 hit. If during the lockdown period you had to pause your operations or continue with a skeletal workforce, there is a huge chance that a significant chunk of your cash reserves has been depleted by your fixed expenses.
So before moving towards reopening, take a step back and assess your current financing. You may plan out specific scenarios so you can gain a better understanding of how much cash you need to budget for your reopening and how long your current cash reserves will last. If you don’t have enough cash, look for additional financing options that you can use to support your cash flow.
3. Implement safety measures in the office and on the construction site
The CDC has published deadlines requiring a distance of at least six feet between employees as much as possible. So before you reopen your business, you need to consider the layout of your office and construction site. You may need to arrange employee cubicles to add more space in between your office workers. For your construction site, you need to take into account the flow of traffic and optimize the entrances and exits. You don’t want site workers to gather and form long queues that can affect social distancing.
You may also take advantage of new construction technology for a safer and more efficient work process. For instance, administrative tasks such as accounting and lien management, which typically take a long time, can be done through the cloud even without being in the office. Collaboration software that has been crucial in project planning and data sharing even pre-COVID is even more valuable now as it reduces the need for in-person meetings.
The task of reopening your construction business is a challenging one, especially with the current COVID-19 situation still pretty much the same as it was a few months ago. But one thing is certain: doing business “as usual” is not an option.
In order for your business to rise from the crisis, you need to have a solid foundation for your business decisions and adapt your strategy to the current situation.
About the Author
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.