In order to increase our productivity as a nation we need to work smarter. The construction industry can start to tackle the productivity problem through the Government’s Industrial Strategy and making better use of existing and more efficient resources, says Mace’s Jason Millett, COO for Consultancy.
Our recent report ‘The UK’s productivity problem and how to solve it’ looks at why it’s so important for our industry to address productivity. It includes some potential solutions, which are particularly relevant at a time when the UK has a busy pipeline of major projects.
In April last year, the Government released figures showing the biggest fall in UK productivity since the financial crisis in 2008. In construction, productivity has only improved by 1.4% since 1997.
However, many experts and professional bodies have already identified the need to measure the whole process of delivering the built environment more effectively, rather than simply looking at what happens on site. Otherwise we end up missing the positive impacts of better design or off-site manufacturing.
As an industry, we are building to a higher quality than ever before using innovations in design, product manufacture, off-site manufacturing, construction management and BIM. By combining these methods and technologies we can improve our productivity and make the most out of what we already have.
In our experience, the UK construction industry has developed an unequal working relationship and status between those who design and manage the project, and the contractor and supply chain who then has to deliver the work.
Early decision making by a client and the role of a project manager can significantly influence the outcome of a project. If a project manager flags up opportunities early in a project’s life cycle then it allows us to use the full offerings of BIM, DfM, efficient logistic supply lines and minimises the need for relatively high site labour levels – rather than optimising the programme. As project managers we don't always realise or appreciate how much influence we can have on the success of a project.
It’s important that all parties involved in the delivery of larger projects are seen and treated as partners. Bringing contactors in early to advise the client and the designers of a scheme on what is actually technically possible and efficient has the potential to save a lot of time and money. Starting a project off on the wrong foot can mean problems down the line and real collaboration that benefits all parties can never be achieved.
Whether we talk about physical construction activity, project management or the benefits of collaboration, too many British workers work longer hours for lower pay than our counterparts in Germany, France, Italy and the US. The reason why we want to work smarter instead of longer is so that as well as delivering better projects faster, workers can retain a work-life balance, which makes people happier and more productive at work – exactly what we are trying to achieve.
It’s up to our industry and the Government to work together and find solutions to improve productivity. There are many ways for us to do this, so let’s all get stuck in.
To read our full report, click here.