By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Not surprisingly, the pandemic has spurred widespread adoption of virtual communication platforms and resources by construction industry players.
More than 20 percent of all Associated General Contractors of America firms surveyed say they have increased the use of a video “Zoom and Teams” component for educational and training purposes as well as internal and external meetings.
According to the results of the August 2020 AGC survey, which included more than 2,000 responses nationwide, 21 percent have integrated video conferencing into their daily operations; 19 percent have initiated or increased online or mobile training options; 18 percent have initiated or increased spending on training and professional development; and 13 percent are now using augmented/mixed/virtual reality training devices.
And in an effort to mitigate labor shortages that have heightened since the pandemic, 16 percent of those surveyed said they’re using hardware and/or software-based technologies specific to project management; 13 percent reported increased use of estimating software; 13 percent are using technology for field collaboration; and 10 percent of respondents are employing workforce management, document/file management and site safety technologies.
A total of 22 percent of Missouri-based construction industry survey respondents said they’ve increased use of virtual learning and conferencing platforms since mid-March.
Allison Scott, director of construction thought leadership and customer marketing at construction software manufacturer Autodesk, says the results of the recent workforce survey reveal the construction industry continues to grapple with changes and consequences brought on by COVID-19.
“The long-term effects of the current crisis have yet to play out,” said Scott. “Firms that double down on innovation efforts through an increased focus on lean construction, workforce training or technology that facilitates remote collaboration, will be well-poised for enduring resilience. We’re seeing that the pandemic has acted as an accelerator of technology adoption and workforce development. It’s definitely an interesting evolution. Lots of digital skills are becoming necessary in the construction environment,” she added.
According to Autodesk statistics, Scott said since mid-February the global customer demand for BIM 360 document management software has jumped 350 percent; demand for PlanGrid construction software has jumped 273 percent between March and August.
For full results of the AGC’s latest workforce survey, see https://www.agc.org/sites/default/files/Files/Communications/2020_Workforce_Survey_National.pdf.