As we discussed before, construction executive management is generally risk and change averse, a slow and late adopter of technology, often for good reason. But once technologies have got their foot in the door, you can use them to accelerate further adoption, innovation, process improvement and change. Even digital transformation.
Construction firms need high quality communications between HQ and field more than almost any other industry. Digital communications services are now cheap, easy use, multi-media and richly functional. Because they are digital, they also include features which can be used to spur adoption and usage of all digital technologies. Team communications help induce laggards to adopt new efficient technology and workflows. Increasing adoption will get workers thinking of even more innovations as well. All this helps your entire firm.
Here are some ideas to consider:
Encourage Membership and Use of Digital Teams, Slack and Similar within the Firm
These tools are designed to improve inter-company communications. Make employees and business partners feel it’s a big deal to become a member of your teams and channels and have access to your firm’s proprietary communications. Make Membership feel like a privilege. Encourage managers to use teams and channels to broadcast information, and expect their workers tto read them.
Encourage Membership and Use of Digital Teams, Slack with all Project Stakeholders
Construction projects require the collaboration and coordination of owners, designers, financers, tradespeople, subcontracts, engineers, suppliers. Every project should have a common platform for communications, document sharing and, to the greatest extent possible, data sharing.
Encourage Sharing of Technology Adoption Successes
Construction companies usually adopt technology incrementally. One project will act as a beta or pilot for some technology to prove value and work out operational issues. Have such projects publicize their experience when your supervisors and project managers get together. Use your teams and channels to communicate digital success and failures broadly.
Encourage Digital Personal Profiles
Encourage your workforce to create their profile with pictures of themselves and interests. Construction workforce is distributed and many field workers rarely come to HQ. Creating a digital persona is a great way to become known for career advancement, and make online meetings more efficient by pre-introducing attendees. Field workers can store all their work-related credentials and licenses securely on their phone. No more fishing around for paper cards that quickly disintegrate.
Promote Sharing of Observations, Pictures, Videos
Bring social media sharing habits in-house. Sharing comes naturally to the younger generations, and be expected by them. But as with public social media, maintain norms of behavior and don’t permit “boys will be boys” behavior. You’ll need to identify and remove proprietary or objectionable material promptly.
Use Notifications Expansively
Notifications to smart phones is a great way to redirect attention back to work and away from life’s distractions. Gets everyone used to receiving work related data digitally, not just in person from a supervisor. Examples:
- HR notifications about holidays, referral bonus programs, benefits updates, new hire announcements, payroll dates, etc.
- Project Manager notifications of scheduled project task assignments, what are you and your team supposed to do today, etc.
- Supervisors can notify field workers of changes in jobsite conditions relating to safety, weather, visitors, personnel, etc.
- Supervisors can notify the field of changing project requirements, service orders, new subcontractors, milestone schedules, inspections, etc.
- Safety managers should use notifications to remind workers for best practices. Do you have enough water? Tool talk attendance?
- Safety managers can advise new site visitors and workers of basic jobsite access requirements, PPE, refer them to videos for instruction.
- Executives can announce important company and industry news – big sales wins, HR policies, bonuses, convention schedules, key hires.
- Encourage workers to share product tips and methods. “Did you know” messages about product features, or links to Youtube resources.
Digital contests, learning games, trivia, quizzes, all can get workers attention and be used to promote digital adoption. For example, safety knowledge quizzes about important field situations, like falls, enclosed spaces, aerosols, noise, equipment operations, etc. While sometimes packaged with consulting services, an increasing number of business simulation games are available off the shelf for you to use.
Youtube for Everything
Nobody reads manuals anymore, and nobody usually needs to. Professionally and privately published “how to” videos for just about everything are available on Youtube. There is no excuse for ignorance anymore, no matter what your business role, at HQ or the field. Equipment how-to, software how-to, it’s all there.