It’s time to get back to work—although work is going to look very different today, tomorrow, and even three months from now than it did last year. Let me remind you, safety hasn’t always been a core component on construction projects. If you look up photos from when the empire state building was being built, construction workers were hanging off the side of the building. Much has changed—and much will continue to change.
As new stay-at-home orders and some “relaxing” of orders related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic are being considered in states across the country and some work is beginning to ramp back up, one fact remains, at least for the immediate future: construction companies need to consider how to maintain effective social distance for on-site employees.
Much of this responsibility will fall on site supervisors and construction safety managers, who are now navigating new, uncharted territory, during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. To help, Gartner recommends leaders implement four key measures to help on-site employees practice social distancing.
Social customs: Implement a no visitor policy in the office and only allow authorized employees into the office during this time.
Scheduling shifts: Allow flexible work hours and staggered or rotational shifts so that fewer employees are on location at any given time, reducing exposure to others.
Workplace design: Where possible, insert partitions to raise cubicle wall heights to create a physical barrier between agents.
Collaboration: If multiple roles perform similar tasks that must be performed on-site, consider pooling those tasks on rotation so that one person is responsible for the tasks, allowing others to work remotely.
Many construction companies are already implementing measures for the health and safety of employees and customers. Case in point: Taylor Morrison.
Here is a snapshot at what the construction company is doing to ensure the safety of its employees. Starting the week of March 9, it has enhanced cleaning procedures in offices, design centers, model homes, and construction offices. It has restricted air travel and cancelled in-person trainings and meetings. Further, division and corporate office team members began a work-from-home protocol effective March 17. The organization, which introduced Huddles last year as a daily communication vehicle, is now doing them virtually. Here the team discusses cultural and business updates.
For its homebuyers, good CRM (customer relationship management) technology has become essential. The builder is offering virtual appointments, which includes home tours and walkthroughs. The remote selling environment is also available with 360-degree virtual tours on the company website. Closings on homes are also being done “curbside” or “drive through,” with customers parked outside the title office and a notary delivering the documents and witness signatures—all while maintaining six feet of distance.
Here is the hard reality: We are operating in new, unknown territory. Work likely won’t be going back to “normal” anytime soon. Just like the TSA (Transportation Security Admin.) emerged roughly a month after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, new security and safety precautions will come as a result of COVID-19. Will we always work six feet apart? No, probably not. But it will certainly change the way we work and approach safety on our construction projects for the years to come.
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