Categories: Industry News, Thought Leadership
The outbreak of Covid-19 has developed rapidly with far reaching impacts on the economy and business across the country. Lockdown measures have led to unprecedented shutdowns of large parts of the economy simultaneously, with effects being felt across all sectors.
Whilst economic activity could bounce back later in the year, the overall scale of the impact on the economy will be significant in historical terms.
Thanks to research conducted by consultancy firm and Pagabo partners, Lichfields, we will explore the potential economic and social implications that this pandemic and lockdown period could have on our sector.
The impact on construction
It’s clear to see that no sector is immune to the impacts that this pandemic has presented. However, the lockdown measures imposed have caused industries including hospitality, accommodation and entertainment to suffer more than most by temporarily ‘shutting down’.
Construction was also among this category at the start of the lock-down period, but new measures have eased things and introduced safe ways in which sites can continue to operate. These include social distancing, intense cleaning and periodic operational hours to avoid rush hour on public transport and roads.
The construction industry has the potential to rebound quickly, and there is new optimism in the air with many workers returning from furlough and a number of sites back in operation, all be it at a reduced productivity.
Professional services providers have continued to function throughout the lockdown period by working remotely and using technology to conduct their daily activities and to service their clients. New ways of working may be one of very few positives to take away from this 8-week period, as the need for traveling non-essential journeys may reduce in favour of a technology first approach.
Implications on social activities and policy
In addition to economic impacts, it is likely that the construction industry will face numerous social and policy changes in the coming months. Changes in the way the public sector spend their money and how organisations and individual employees behave once the ‘new normal’ commences will be fascinating.
Planning for growth
As discussed, the initial phase of lock-down caused much development activity to be interrupted, so the sector will be keen to rebound quickly to make up for lost construction time. Positive local planning, industry wide collaboration and responsive decision-making will be essential to support recovery and rebuild longer term confidence in the market.
A main government target for 2020 was to improve the investment into northern and central areas in effort to begin ‘levelling up’ the country. It is likely that this will remain on the agenda, but surely the economic vulnerabilities shown during this pandemic in these areas calls for this to be an even greater priority.
We will hopefully see large scale infrastructure and construction investment in these regions to ensure they are not left even further behind as a result of the pandemic.
Lock-down has forced different ways of living and working. Many organisations, including our own, have continued to function and service their clients. This is a trend we could see remaining in the post lock-down norm and beyond.
In particular, the organisations in professional services, have had to quickly adopt a technology first approach. Many have seen that traveling non-essential journeys is counterproductive, and although a site visit is necessary from time to time, a catch up with a client can be done just as efficiently over a video call. This is a change that may also be widely apparent across other sectors, and with a reduce in car journeys there could be a positive impact on the environment in the long term.
Reasons to be optimistic
It’s difficult to predict what long term economic and social implications the coronavirus pandemic may have on the construction industry. But it’s clear to see that there is some light on the horizon as the rebound of the construction sector is beginning to launch.
Calls to collaborate and support each other are now more important than ever.
Thanks to our partners at Lichfields - To read this insightful article in full, click here.
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