Gone are the days when construction project managers had to constantly move from one construction site to another to check the progress of a project as the industry moves towards having a more remote type of workforce.
The conventional system was labor-intensive and time-consuming, and cost construction firms a lot of money. Thanks to remote management tools, administrative jobs as well as design and architecture roles are given more flexibility while construction firms can accept more projects that are farther away from their central offices. Project managers are now free to manage the workforce even without their physical presence on the construction site.
Remote Management Is on the Rise in Construction
According to McKinsey, the construction sector is one of the least digitized industries in the world, second only to agriculture. With many construction firms managing teams in multiple locations, technology has been slow to progress. However, the same issue has led many construction firms to use remote management tools to bridge the distance between the central office and construction sites and improve work efficiency. There are several reasons why construction project management is getting more remote.
First, remote management practices are a natural fit for the construction industry. As construction projects increase in size and complexity, the ability to delegate tasks, manage workforce schedules, and check the progress of projects from a distance improves work efficiency. It also streamlines the flow of information between office departments like accounting, sales, and lien management with on-field personnel. Furthermore, it ensures each project participant uses updated documents and plans. Finally, parts of your workforce working remotely translates to business savings, such as reduced office space and reduced utility usage. This frees office space as well as cash, which can be used for other business opportunities.
That said, the advantages that remote management gives construction businesses also give rise to new challenges that company leaders need to address. After all, this digital environment is an entirely new thing for many construction project managers. Here are some remote management tips that can improve your role as a project manager.
1. Stick to a single communication platform
One of the first things that you need to consider when establishing a remote management system is the communication platform that your team will use. In order to ensure the smooth flow of information and decision-making, your construction team needs to have a reliable way to talk to one another even while on the field. More importantly, stick to just one communication platform and agree beforehand which type of communication channel to use depending on the type of information. Small task updates may only need an instant message or an email, but a brainstorming session may require a full video conference call.
There are several communication tools currently available on the market that you can use for online meetings, instant messages, and emails. But for a construction project, you need a collaboration platform where you can set up meetings per team, per task, or per department. It should also have an option for video conferences for in-depth discussions.
2. Streamline your task management process
When managing your construction workforce, there are two things that you need to establish. First, you and your team members need to be on the same page despite the physical distance. Second, you need to be able to solve work issues to minimize delays. To accomplish these, you need to use a project management tool to streamline the task management process.
Similar to communication tools, there are several project management platforms that you can use for your team. When choosing a project management platform, you need to look for the ability to organize tasks by type, priority, or assigned member, specify in great detail the tasks that need to be done, and the ability to attach photos and videos of issues identified in the construction site.
3. Track employee hours in the cloud
Punch cards and paper timesheets have been the standard method of time tracking in many industries, including the construction sector. However, this method is highly impractical and prone to human error, intentional or otherwise, especially when managing multiple projects. Inevitably, this can result in payroll mistakes and end up costing the company money.
Aside from this, many construction employees find manual time tracking inconvenient, especially if they need to fill out a timesheet every single workday. In the worst cases, they may turn to buddy punching, where they ask their colleagues to punch their time card when they are late or absent. Even just a few minutes can add up and could put a significant dent in your payroll.
Cloud-based time tracking lets you get rid of buddy punching, time theft, inaccurate data, and other issues that arise from manual time tracking. Project managers have multiple options for cloud-based time tracking software. Your choice should have real-time tracking so you know which employees are working on-site at any given time. Project time tracking is also needed to break down employee time logs based on the tasks they work on. A mobile time tracking app will make it much easier for teams to track their time from any job site. Finally, software integrations are needed to transfer time data from one application to another.
Managing a remote workforce is a challenge, especially for project managers who are new to the use of cloud technology. Take time to learn how these technological innovations can improve work efficiency and communication to maintain a competitive advantage in a rapidly changing industry.
About the Author:
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.