As pandemic restrictions are tightened again, and some areas go back into lockdown, workers are again being asked to work from home when possible. While construction companies are used to working from many sites, the office staff is generally located in a central office. Changing venues for office workers has its advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the benefits and challenges for construction company employers of having workers work from home.
Benefits to employers
1. Higher productivity
When working from home, employees are often more productive than they are at the office. There are fewer distractions from coworkers stopping by to chat or ask questions. It’s easier to shut out time-suckers like email notifications and unnecessary meetings. A FlexJobs 2020 survey found that workers who thought they were more productive at home, were. Respondents cited fewer interruptions and quiet working environments as part of the reason for their increased productivity.
2. Recruit from a larger pool of candidates
When location isn’t a factor when hiring, companies can expand the pool of possible candidates for open positions. This can lead to hiring more highly skilled workers for key roles. When companies hire the best of the best, their products and services improve in quality.
3. Reduce turnover
The flexibility inherent in a remote job allows workers to stay with them longer. For example, if an employee needs to relocate because of a spouse’s job change, instead of quitting they can easily continue working for the same company from another location. Companies can keep key talent when there are fewer constraints on where they perform the work.
4. Reduce overhead costs
For some companies, overhead costs like office rent and supplies can be significantly reduced or even eliminated by employing a remote workforce. With fewer overhead expenses, profits increase.
Employees also save money. Since they don’t have to commute anymore, they save on gas, car repairs, parking, and lunches. This savings translates into more of their hard-earned money staying in their pockets.
5. Fewer sick days
Spending less time around other people, coworkers, and the public, results in less sick time. Workers reduce their chances of catching viruses, colds, and the flu. With less downtime, workers are more productive and are able to get more accomplished over the long haul.
Challenges to employers
1. Collaboration and communication
As contractors know, when teams are spread out over long distances, it can be difficult to maintain communication and collaborate with team members. Impromptu meetings and discussions are more difficult to have when workers aren’t in the same physical location.
Luckily there are several tech applications that can assist teams in maintaining their connections. From online messaging apps, like Slack, to videoconferencing programs, like Zoom, it’s easier than ever for teams to keep in touch when working remotely.
When it comes to accessing collective data, online SaaS programs allow everyone to get the data they need from any device with an internet connection. This ensures that everyone has the info they need when they need it. Using SaaS software also allows office teams to stay productive from wherever they’re working, as well as ensuring everyone is working off the same real-time data.
While there may be fewer distractions at home than in the office, they are still a struggle to deal with. Children, pets, and household chores can quickly steal employees’ concentration. Workers must do their best to set boundaries and structure their work environment and schedule to reduce distractions as much as possible.
3. Technology struggles
Technology can be difficult to deal with, whether it’s at home or in the office. Programs crash, computers die, and internet connections are lost. While these problems can’t all be eliminated, there are some things that can be done to help prevent them.
- Ensure that employees have the latest in hardware and software installed on their work-provided devices.
- Develop a schedule for regularly replacing hardware every 2 to 3 years.
- Employ IT workers or hire a company to provide remote service to all employees.
4. Time Management
Without the structure of the office environment to keep them on task, some workers may struggle with managing their schedules when working from home. They may lose track of their work time and blur the lines between home and work life. This can lead to added stress and burnout.
Allow workers to set their own schedules when possible, so they can effectively manage their work and home life. Encourage them to stick to their schedule as much as possible, with only occasional changes under special circumstances.
5. Dress code
When working from home it can be tempting to dress more casually than when working in the office. While an occasional day spent working in your pajamas is acceptable, workers need to be dressed properly the majority of the time. Clothing can be both professional and comfortable, keeping workers in the correct mindset when they’re on the job.
As construction workers and companies continue to navigate the ever-changing pandemic restrictions, it’s best to remain flexible, as this helps reduce stress. Teams can function successfully when working remotely with the help of technology and a little patience.
Check out Premier Construction Software to see if it fits your company’s strategies and goals. Our construction management and accounting software provide teams with the tools they need to take advantage of these technologies. Schedule a demo by contacting us today.
Dawn Killough is a construction writer with over 20 years of experience with construction payments, from the perspectives of subcontractors and general contractors. Dawn has held roles such as a staff accountant, green building advisor, project assistant, and contract administrator. Her work for general contractors, design firms, and subcontractors has even led to the publication of blogs on several construction tech websites and her book, Green Building Design 101.