Tech Can Solve Communication Problems in Construction
When working with construction clients, I’ve learned that employees will not use workplace technology unless it’s ridiculously easy. In the tech world, we also know that technology is most effective when it solves a problem.
We’re finding that miscommunication is a big problem in the construction industry. It is the main cause of project conflict and stress, and directly contributes to rework, time overrun, and decreased productivity down the line, according to The Constructor.
Technology can greatly improve communication, but only after clients understand what’s really going on.
Effects of miscommunication
Take a look at the negative effects of miscommunication from a PlanGrid survey:
- Almost half of all rework is due to poor communication among project stakeholders as well as poor project information.
- Construction workers lose almost two full working days each week solving avoidable issues and searching for project information.
- Employees spend 35% of their time (over 14 hours per week) on non-productive activities including looking for project information, conflict resolution and dealing with mistakes and rework.
Given the massive impact of miscommunication on my clients, I wanted to drill down on the three biggest causes of it.
Avoidable interpersonal conflicts
Interpersonal conflicts happen at every company. But in construction, you have multiple parties, project-level conflicts, critical deadlines, and different management styles that can all complicate communication. Some conflicts are natural, such as negotiating with clients over project changes. Others are avoidable, like workers not having timely information to do their jobs or a heated exchange between parties. When you add contractual obligations and project milestones to meet, communication can quickly break down and cause avoidable conflict.
Communication systems lacking
Construction firms have a lot of platform options to communicate nowadays— from email and video calls to instant and text messages. On a project level, it could mean workers relying on different communication channels. On a personnel level, it could mean HR chasing workers to sign documents because they don’t use computers. In fact, poor systems and platforms were found to be the second biggest cause of miscommunication in construction firms in the past 25 years.
Communication skills lacking
People are not born with good communication skills. On top of that, different parties have different backgrounds and ways to communicate in construction. For example, a worker may rely on direct face-to-face conversations while their manager needs email documentation to analyze a problem. When employees lack communication skills, or training for it, misunderstandings and conflicts happen much more often. Communication skills training is critical to give employees, including managers, more options to get on the same page.
The most common causes of miscommunication— avoidable conflict, ineffective communication systems, lack of skills training— are the biggest contributors to rework, delays, and productivity loss.
Technology must solve a problem
I have seen first-hand how technology can solve communication problems in construction. But it must be the right technology for clients’ real needs.
At TruHu, we built an easy-to-use, mobile-based employee platform where workers, site managers, HR, and even third parties can easily connect with people out in the field. Our platform helps employees access company and project information quickly, receive and document communications, and most importantly, stay safe.
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