What has the construction industry learnt from the pandemic?

Construction covid lessons Ellis Fox Blog

The construction industry wasn’t in great shape when the pandemic hit, but perhaps that was a good thing. For years there have been calls for change, but little action was taken, because it seemed, there were always more important fires to put out. But earlier this year as the country entered lockdown and construction was given one of the few exemptions to remain operating, it highlighted a number of glaring flaws in operational structures.

The Workforce

Health and safety and mental well-being are topics that are often talked about. Covid put it under the spotlight. With construction sites being allowed to continue while other sectors shut down during lockdown, it became extremely challenging to navigate the complexities of maintaining a level of productivity while adhering to safety protocols. Additionally many migrant workers were repatriated to their home countries. Between that and many workers getting sick, or staying home, fearing for their health and safety, many sites were left with labour shortages.

With Brexit, concerns about losing access to the skills of migrant workers and a shortage of local skills were highlighted, now the pandemic made that a reality. To operate effectively new health and safety mechanisms had to be implemented and management had to consider what other options were available if the labour force wasn’t.


Digital transformation in the construction sector has been limited, and offsite manufacturing and other digital tools such as BIM were sometimes been viewed as competition to the old way of doing things rather than the tools they are to improve productivity. With many office based employees working from home, the need for more effective collaboration and management tools quickly became obvious – as did the possibilities for greater efficiency.

As challenging as the pandemic has been, a distinct positive that has come out of it is greater acceptance and adoption of technology. It’s the one thing that can help the construction industry make a more efficient economic recovery.  It has also demonstrated the need for greater collaboration between departments and how technology can facilitate this.

As much as we all long for things to go back to normal, the reality is that things will never be the same. And they shouldn’t be, because it wasn’t a great place to be. This is an opportunity for real change that is desperately needed in construction. And if successful it can have a real and positive impact on the economy.