October saw vacancies in the construction industry reach almost 50,000, mirroring the UK-wide surge in unfilled roles across all sectors. In the wake of Covid and Brexit, the challenges of recruiting talent, whilst tackling skills shortages and falling construction output, has placed the industry under significant strain. Innovation in IT could provide the answer, suggests Mark Turner, Managing Director of Business Process Services, Liberata.
To plug the gaps, many workers are spending excessive amounts of time grappling with mundane administrative tasks. Strategic planning and development falls by the wayside as energy is spent on resource-sapping back-office complications.
Time spent on non-optimal tasks is time taken away from fruitful endeavours that drive productivity. The Office for National Statistics found that construction output has fallen each month since April, when it declined by 2% compared with the year before. The heavy toll that endless manual processing has on project development and team morale can seriously undermine the security of the sector.
Better alternatives are needed to ease the burden on teams and free up project managers to plan their workflow efficiently. This is where automation comes in. By transforming monotonous work into streamlined automated processes, the industry can reduce costs, drive productivity, improve safety, and develop a clear pathway for professional development within the sector.
Digital transformation has been shown to lower costs and drive process efficiencies in many UK industries. However, the construction sector has been slow to fully embrace digitisation’s potential. Mundane and time-consuming tasks, such as data entry, logging project updates, and manually writing reports, are still piling the pressure on an already overstretched workforce. The use of innovative IT solutions to automate these tasks can offer precious time back to teams, allowing them to focus on the more essential, value-adding activities that drive a project’s success.
The potential time and cost savings brought about by automation are considerable. Automating mundane but necessary tasks can have transformative and empowering effects -both for workers and for the wider construction industry. It will allow people to channel their energy into more inventive and strategic tasks, where they can exercise their autonomy and problem-solving skills to achieve tangible results. Reducing the time taken up by onerous administrative tasks will give the sector the breathing space to concentrate on ‘bigger picture’ initiatives, such as a the drive to invest in the right training and skills for the next generation of domestic construction workers.
Streamlined automated technology also eases the administrative burden on those responsible for managing a mobile and transient workforce. Replacing paper timesheets with speedy, portable, and reliable technology will mitigate against compliance complications and ensure the effective management of fluid working sites.
As staff shortages also hit the sector, many construction firms have also accured a formidable backlog of invoicing and payroll tasks – and are relying on much smaller teams to handle them. For these organisations, the use of streamlined automated technology to reduce the administrative burden can help them overcome a significant hurdle on the road to recovery. It is a strategy that will also safeguard them against human error and other internal administrative crises that can cause damaging financial loss. The high level of accuracy and efficiency that automation brings will prove a key factor in the future success of businesses across all sectors.
A solution fit for the future
As the construction industry vies to attract and retain talent in a post-Covid, post-Brexit world, it has never been a better time to embrace smart, expertise-driven IT solutions. A recovery informed by automation will allow the industry to supercharge its productivity growth and get the best out of its workforce.
It can also bring about a shift in workforce culture. Employee satisfaction visibly manifests itself in greater productivity, innovation, commitment, and other tangible benefits to construction projects. As the industry looks to recruit and retain skilled workers, automating the mundane and unnecessarily time-draining tasks will add clear value to roles across the sector.
Evidently, tech has a major role to play in the success of all UK industries. Construction firms that embrace automation will reap the benefits of this versatile and revolutionary solution.