Construction in a Time of Covid
Updated: Feb 10
Impact on Future Projects
Feds are dropping rates in response to the crisis and given a political incentive to keep rates low, we should expect cheap money in the loan market for a long time
The historical stimulus allocates billions to critical infrastructure
Remote inspections and virtual work is increasing - even in construction
Construction has been in an historical boom, and construction companies and analysts have been anticipating recession for the better part of two years, diversifying their project portfolios, strengthening owner relationships, and waiting for the recession’s trigger. Now we know how it originates, and contractors are implementing their plans.
The way we work in construction will have to change, becoming increasingly digital, connected, and mobile. The industry is getting creative in ways to spend less time on site with prefabrication, virtual meetings, facetime, VR conferencing, and yes, now the use of spatially accurate AR with Argyle. When the same government body that recently asked us to send a fax is suddenly thinking about remote inspections, you know the shift in work is real. “Regulators are still reviewing plans and inspecting jobs – sometimes electronically.1
We anticipate investment in critical infrastructure projects throughout the United States. We know $94 trillion in critical infrastructure is needed globally over the next 20 years. Historically politicians reserve their infrastructure spending in times of economic distress, and have seen it here again with billions allocated to major infrastructure.
This type of recovery may be uneven at first--construction companies that build primarily for hospitality and housing won’t see as much initial benefit from this type of stimulus. In 2008 and 2009, recovery focused on infrastructure, and construction companies focused on housing or hospitality fared more poorly than those with a stronger infrastructure background.
The way we work in construction will have to change, becoming increasingly digital, connected, and mobile. The industry is getting creative in ways to spend less time on site with prefabrication, virtual meetings, facetime, VR conferencing, and yes, now the use of spatially accurate AR with Argyle. When the same government body that recently asked me to send a fax is suddenly thinking about remote inspections, you know the shift in work is real. “Regulators are still reviewing plans and inspecting jobs – sometimes electronically.1
Labor Availability and Experience Gap
Labor availability has been the modern problem of construction
Labor shortages may be temporarily exacerbated in current self and government-imposed distancing.
This is a problem for construction tech to help solve
Even prior to the pandemic, Construction was facing labor shortages, particularly with experienced workers aging out of the workforce. "Construction’s labor pool is getting pinched from both sides by the dual forces of an aging workforce and fewer younger workers pursuing careers in the trades. Simultaneously, the demand for work is seeing all-time highs".5
Construction technology has a role to play here, and indeed, our founders’ fascination with this problem is what led us to build our jobsite-focused easy and true AR technology.
The Future of Construction report indicated the labor shortage is worse in construction than in other industries. "[N]ew technologies are now taking over many of the tasks that formerly required low-skilled workers. However, the new technologies themselves require a highly skilled workforce, and the construction industry – traditionally perceived as less glamorous than other sectors – will struggle to recruit the requisite “digital” talent.7 (emphasis added).
Rude. We’ve got your digital talent, right here.
Construction Tech Opportunities
We’re building new and better tools of the trade for a workforce that craves them.
"The handful of domestic industry giants that existed prior to 2000—and that are still around today (e.g., Viewpoint, Trimble and HCSS)—may have avoided the complete and catastrophic failure that the rest of the tech world experienced in 2001 because of the dependence on the construction industry. As it happens, construction wasn’t in a down cycle during that period and was, in fact, going pretty strong.8
"[T]he workforce is aging and diminishing and fewer people are pursuing trade careers, making it a challenge to attract and train new workers. Members of this next generation of “digital native” workers have grown up with smartphones and iPads and are used to integrating advanced technology in their daily lives. This behavior translates to the jobsite, where these workers are eager for apps and programs that can be accessed with the swipe of a finger.
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