Predicting the future is a tricky thing, and while a great deal of effort and expense has gone into hiring a generation of “superforecasters”, the year just passed has taught all of us that what we expect and what we get can be two radically different things. We can’t predict the future with the degree of specificity that some people like to believe, so does that mean we can just do away with predicting altogether? Well, no. In business, some degree of foresight is indispensable, as budgets need to be set and materials need to be bought.
So when it comes to a business sector such as construction, we simply can’t say where projects will be completed and when with any degree of certainty, but we can look at trends and developments and have a decent idea as to how the industry will change throughout the year. These predictions are still somewhat subject to what the universe chooses to throw at us over the next several months, but we can be sure to see focus on the following considerations…
Of course safety is always a concern and a consideration in the building sector. With machinery, heavy-duty materials and heights all to be taken into account, there is no doubt that it remains the top priority. It is even more so now in the era of Covid, because we need to be extremely sensitive to the possibility of transmission when people are working close together. This will mean that smaller crews can be expected on sites, with shift patterns modified to ensure that work doesn’t slow down too much. It also means that the sharing of tools and PPE, previously a common phenomenon, needs to stop completely.
While we are still some way from being able to leave construction in the hands of automated machines, there is no doubt that technology is helping us keep building sites ticking over. You can’t send a robot or a drone to drive a forklift or enrol it in a safety course with Kallibr to brush up on best practices, but you can use the same technology to better monitor a site for hazards and figure out when more materials need to be ordered. In addition, 3D printing is proving to be a huge benefit – anything from tools to bricks to, in some cases, entire houses are being produced using this form of technology.
Residential over commercial, for now
Most new projects breaking ground this year, and perhaps for the immediate future, will be dedicated to creating homes rather than workplaces. This is hardly surprising: in 2019 few of us gave any thought to the idea of “social distancing”; now, it would be a dereliction of duty to ignore it, so new residential builds are going to have to be reimagined. We also don’t know to what extent working from home will become the norm, so expensive commercial premises are looking like a needless extravagance to many business owners. If you’re looking to get into construction, aim for houses over offices as a priority going forward.