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Many Canadian construction firms more productive than before COVID-19: survey

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Toronto, ON — A new survey reveals that more than 70 per cent of Canadian construction companies had as many or more projects during the first six months of the COVID-19 pandemic compared to before.

According to the inaugural How We Build Now Canada survey—conducted by Procore Technologies—despite the challenges created with provincial shut downs and social distancing regulations, 10 per cent of the construction professionals surveyed report being much more productive than before the pandemic struck, while 17 per cent are edging ahead of pre-pandemic levels and 44 per cent remain as productive during the pandemic. Twenty-six per cent of the construction professionals surveyed were less (24 per cent) or much less (two per cent) productive than before the pandemic. Forty-three per cent say they expect to increase projects over the next year.

“The high productivity reported is good news for construction, but belied by the continuing challenges of enhanced on-site safety protocols and external factors impacting the industry,” said Jas Saraw, vice president, Canada at Procore. “Construction is very resilient, and Canadian builders will continue to look for, and implement, new solutions that will propel them through the pandemic.”

In spite of being able to adapt to new regulations and procedures, survey results show construction organizations need to better align employees to work efficiently on-site and remotely by using technology such as a unified platform that contains all information in one place. Eighty-three per cent of respondents agree they would employ a single, integrated platform technology, drawn by the benefits of more transparency, visibility and collaboration across projects.

Almost seven out of 10 (68 per cent) respondents believe what could help the construction industry excel after COVID-19 is to have one platform that connects all their people, projects and tools to increase productivity and efficiency, reduce reworks and delays, improve safety and compliance and provide more financial transparency.

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • More than one quarter (27 per cent) of the respondents shifted between 76 and 100 per cent of their staff in the months after COVID-19 arrived while most were able to move some staff to full-time remote work, some quickly with existing resources.
  • More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of Canadian builders plan to maintain some or all of those new safety measures post-pandemic. Only 10 per cent of respondents anticipate a return to pre-pandemic safety measures.
  • More than half (55 per cent) of construction firms say they will spend the next 12 months dealing with the uncertainty of COVID-19, with about a third of respondents still challenged by having to maintain social distancing and safe working conditions.
  • When asked what are the key success factors post COVID-19, 64 per cent cited increased productivity and efficiency—issues that transcend the pandemic. However, the impact of the pandemic shows in the fact that 53 per cent feel the ability to work remotely will be a key success factor, and 38 per cent realize improved safety and compliance will be critical going forward.
  • Almost nine in 10 (88 per cent) believe technology will either play a key role in the future of construction (50 per cent) or will be the backbone of the construction industry (38 per cent).
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