The Future of the Construction Industry Beyond COVID

“Steepest, deepest, and fastest recession in history” is what BMO Capital Markets called the impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy. Other experts called it the historic shutdown. And many compared the pandemic repercussions to the “Great” Recession of 2008.

Without a doubt, COVID has disrupted, interrupted, slowed down, or brought an abrupt stop to every business in every industry in Canada. Including the construction industry. And given our prominent role in the country’s economy, the effects of the disruption are felt throughout.

Nation-Wide Impact

The construction industry in Canada is one of the largest employers. It provides jobs to over 1.5 million Canadians.

In the GTA alone, it’s the lifeblood of the country’s economy. Here, the construction companies like WellDone Inc. and other similar players collectively employ over 360,000 people in the Greater Toronto Area. And they generate $42 billion in investment value every year.

While it’s too early to assess the full impact of COVID, the Chief Economist of ConstructConnect notes “I can confidently say, no living economist has ever seen or studied what we are experiencing at the moment.”

How is the Construction Industry Holding Up?

Some industry experts claim that the impact of the pandemic on the construction industry is catastrophic. Others said it’s business as usual with a heightened focus on health and safety.

At WellDone Inc., we felt the weight and the effect of the pandemic acutely throughout the entire organization. At the onset, we went into reactive mode fast, putting the safety of our workforce first. Everything else second.

As the global and local situation escalated, we adopted a more proactive and preventative mindset. We’ve since developed and rolled out the Pandemic Virus Policy. We’ve implemented safety-focused methods and initiatives like the screening sign-in sheets, sanitation and handwashing stations. We provide ongoing disinfection as well as the frequent communication, industry updates, and training of our employees in multiple languages.

Construction industry in COVID

Industry experts like Research and Markets, the market insights provider, suggest that all in all Canada has done well in controlling the outbreak. The publisher of their recent report, expects the Canadian construction industry to record moderate growth starting at the beginning of 2021.

Good news. Or in the very least, optimistic.

What the Future Holds for Construction

Despite the positive outlook, we can all agree that the construction industry and the rest of the world are looking a lot different in light of the pandemic.

A group of economists at CanaData, the construction industry conference held in October 2020 discussed the country’s rebound from the crisis and the future of the country’s economy. The recurring theme at one of the panel discussions was that the current decision-making is driven and dependent on the pandemic data.

That’s quite alarming since it feels like shooting at moving targets.

With varying degrees of optimism and many factors at play, the industry experts agreed that while the economic recovery will be uneven, we can expect a strong rebound in 2021.

Trends to Adopt Beyond 2020

In light of everything that we know today, it’s evident that things will never be the same. And the construction companies must make the necessary changes in order to stay afloat and grow.

The type of changes that will move the needle is what McKinsey has investigated. Their recent economic analysis of engineering, construction, and building companies looked to understand the ways their companies have been disrupted as a result of COVID-19. And they explored what trends the companies need to adopt in order to move forward and thrive.

Adopt and Increase Digitization

Some companies in the construction industry have already jumped on board and adopted remote ways of work. McKinsey notes, contractors should continue and amplify their efforts in taking advantage of online tools and apps to order construction materials and monitor their employees. While designers and engineers are utilizing digital collaboration technologies, like 4D and 5D simulation.

Reinforce Supply Chains

With a shift in focus from efficiency to resilience, McKinsey claims that contractors are building their material inventory and investigating back-up options when it comes to alternative sources and vendors to secure the necessary supplies.

Invest in Culture and Skills

As job security and morale have been shaken in the past few months, now is the time to invest heavily. Investments in upskilling employees, and into new tools and technologies to improve performance and productivity are imperative. Not to mention to foster a healthier sense of community.

For a full list of long-term and short-term trends identified by McKinsey, refer to their analysis.

Despite the pandemic, the construction industry in Canada held up well amid COVID, continuing to operate while introducing various changes. But as we adjust to the idea of the new normal, it’s clear that there’s no going back.

At WellDone Inc. we like to stay abreast of the industry trends and consider it our responsibility to adopt the necessary strategies that ensure the health and safety of our employees, without sacrificing the successful completion of projects and the growth of our company.