August 5, 2021

UK construction firms least prepared for the ‘new normal’ suggests new report

With the government now a week into its 50-page roadmap out of lockdown, a new report suggests that UK construction firms were the least prepared for the rise of remote and flexible working pre-lockdown. The research, which analysed thousands of job descriptions, employee reviews and forums for the UK’s biggest businesses, suggests that construction firms have the most work to do in order to thrive once the current lockdown restrictions are over.

Based on the ten biggest employers for 20 of the UK’s largest cities, the research identified the industries and locations that were leading the way in terms of flexible and remote working* for staff and which companies would need to make the most changes when we fully return to work.

Construction firms were found to be least willing to offer staff choice when it comes to working hours in addition to being ranked worst overall employee flexibility at work – taking into consideration opportunities for remote working. The engineering and retail sectors were also identified as sectors requiring changes to working practices.

To calculate the rankings, content and thematic analysis was used to analyse thousands of employee reviews to provide an overall ranking score for flexible working, remote working and an overall score*. The construction sector scored just 4.3 out of 10 overall putting it at the foot of the table.

The full industry rankings were as follows:

Employers in the banking, technology and aviation sectors topped the overall rankings, where staff were given the most opportunities to dictate their working hours and location.

Mita Patel, product and development director at global workforce management solutions provider Mitrefinch, which conducted the research, said:

“It’s no secret that the past couple of months have been some of the most challenging for UK businesses in recent years, and with some elements of restrictions likely due to remain in place upon lifting the full lockdown, there looks to be significant challenges in the months and years to come. 

“The difficulty with the construction industry lies in the traditional nature of roles. Certain tasks can be challenging to perform remotely which leaves these industries falling behind as others make the shift to remote working. 

“However, although surprising to many, there are many jobs in construction which can be done remotely. For instance; building documentation and defect management can be done from anywhere and many administrative tasks can be offloaded to allow managers to use time on site more productively. We are expecting to see a shift like this in these sectors over the next few months.”  

When looking at UK locations specifically, it was employers in Cambridge, Nottingham and Edinburgh where staff were most catered for remote and flexible working, with Newcastle, Aberdeen and Coventry at the foot of the rankings. 

To view the full research, visit

*Flexible working relates to the ability of staff to choose their own working hours and remote working linked to the choice of location; working from home etc.

**Using and company job descriptions, the research used content and thematic analysis to analyse thousands of employee reviews to establish what the biggest employers in each city and industry are really offering in terms of flexible working to depict who, before the lockdown at least, was ready for flexible working and who is not.