Construction change Ellis Fox Blog

When traditions no longer serve us

As Britons we’re very proud of our traditions and our heritage. Rugby, cricket, polo, the country club, and various societies that we are part of remind us of traditions that make us proud. Even in business there is a certain order, a way of doing things that has been passed down from one generation to another. Now when we’re talking about craftsmanship it is indeed something to be admired. But in big business in a modern world, some traditions are best left behind, especially when they are stopping an industry from moving forward.

In the past two years the UK construction industry has been in a steady decline. And while it has put a tremendous amount of pressure on top management to keep their companies afloat. It hasn’t been entirely a bad thing. For one it’s made many decision makers review their way of operating and recognise that some traditions need to go.

Some of the issues previously highlighted have included late payments, gender inequality and low cost bidding. While these have been the subject of much debate and there are some influencers spearheading the change, implementation has been slow and as a result not as effective as it could be. Now there are indications that the industry is starting to rebound, will these issues get sidelined once again so that business can continue as usual? Let’s hope not.

But what is even more concerning is a certain amount of apathy to new opportunities and threats, those of technology and climate change. In reality these are not new issues at all, people have been talking about them for decades and how they will impact business as we know it. Was anything done about it to prepare for the changes we are facing? Not really. The few construction companies embracing technology and making it work for them are in the minority. Even less are factoring climate change impacts to their operations. Now that the reality of those impacts of being felt directly, suddenly there are calls for change.

The construction industry has a wealth of brilliant minds, innovative skill sets and astute managers. And many are frustrated by how difficult it is to implement big change in the industry. Perhaps it’s time to leave old industry traditions behind and embrace a new outlook and way of doing things. Perhaps then the industry will start to see real change.