Do More with Less: How Software and Technology Fills the Gap During Labor Shortages

Written by Rose Morrison

The construction industry labor shortage gets worse every year. According to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data and ABCconstruction companies will need to hire 430,000 more workers than they employed in 2020These labor shortages, unfortunately, prevent your projects from getting done. 

And while industry professionals don’t see a clear and easy solution to the construction industry’s labor shortage, there are some ways to fill in the gaps and pull up the slack. How can you learn to do more with less by employing new construction software? 

Move Into the 21st Century

The construction industry is one of the largest sectors in the world, but size doesn’t always mean advancement. It’s one of the slowest industries to adopt new technology, even when it’s available. While this isn’t a major cause of the labor shortage, it is a contributing factor, and one that would be easy to avoid simply by taking steps to adopt new technologies. 

With construction businesses losing more than one full day of work every week to inefficiency, and 66% spending more than a quarter of their work hours waiting for work to be done, the time to act is now1.

Start by assessing your processes and figuring out what aspects of your operation would most benefit from the adoption of new technologies. From there, you can begin to design your implementation strategy. Start with the easiest steps first and work your way up to the more complex ones.

The goal here isn’t to change the way you do things, but to complement the processes you already have in place and automate tasks to make it easier to maximize results with a potentially smaller staff.

Improve Communication

The construction industry as a whole tends to revolve around the concept of “hurry up and wait.” Waiting for clarifications between workers in the field and the office, or for change orders to be approved can throw a wrench into the best-laid plans, leaving you with a work site full of people standing around waiting to be told what to do.

Adopting new construction software and other technologies can reduce this wait time by providing real-time, up-to-date information and communication at the touch of a button.

This kind of real-time communication can also give you the tools to address and fix problems as they occur or even before they happen, rather than reacting to them after the fact — and with additional costs. In the event of severe problems, having a fast response time can mean the difference between solving a problem or shutting down the site until the issue is solved.

Reduce Downtime

Downtime is the last thing any owner wants to hear from their GC, whether it comes in the form of poor communication, waiting for reports, or delays caused by rework. Around 30% of the work performed by construction companies is actually rework2 and the longer an issue is left unresolved, the more it will cost you in the long run.

There are many tools available to help reduce your downtime and the risk of delays to your project timeline. Introducing the right construction software with real-time data is a proactive way to mitigate risks and improve productivity.

Plus, you can use past data to inform decisions to help teams avoid making the same mistakes in the future – saving you money on rework.

Increase Accuracy

Monitoring construction progress, until recent years, was all done manually, with managers or site supervisors carrying out each step of the inspection in person, then submitting written reports. While effective, this system is not as efficient as it could be. New technology can make the information much more readily available and accurate.

Construction project management software allows you to easily monitor the progress of your construction project. From photo uploads and equipment logs to on-site personnel and weather conditions, you have access to all crucial information documented and stored within the platform. Team members upload site surveys, as-built conditions, or daily installations that build a visual timeline of project progress that can be accessed in real time.

Additional technology, like drones and AI-powered robotic dogs, can track job progress and productivity against design, and even detect issues before they become expensive problems to resolve. This can also increase the accuracy of your assessments by creating digital records of each, which you can go over at your leisure or pair with a machine learning program to detect any problems that may have been overlooked. Technology provides a faster way to get a true, comprehensive view of what is happening on the job site.

Improve Safety

Despite advances in the last few decades, the construction industry is still one of the most dangerous places to work. Improving workplace safety is one of the biggest challenges the construction industry has faced in recent years, and the labor shortage is making it even more difficult. The fewer people on site, the more each has to do, often contributing to overwork and fatigue, and potentially leading to accidents or fatalities.

Construction software in general and machine learning algorithms in particular can make the job site safer. These programs can analyze past incidents by observing things like frequency and cause, and determine when and where similar events might occur.

From there, GCs can make the necessary changes to prevent on-the-job accidents that could otherwise make it even more challenging to meet deadlines and finish projects.

Looking Forward

The construction industry may be one of the slowest to adopt new technologies, but the coronavirus and its impact are forcing the industry to evolve. While software isn’t a replacement for skilled workers, advanced technologies can help offset some of the labor shortage’s damage. As companies continue to face a labor crunch and the need to do more with less, software will likely become an integral part of every construction project, making now the perfect time to take that first step toward digitization.


1 2020 National Construction Payment Report

2 Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences | “Cost Management in Construction Projects: Rework and Its Effects”

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