Teamwork between field and office in construction begins with excellent communication. The two parties must share confidential information in a timely fashion to get the best results. The flow of data between the office and job site is critical to a project, and any drawback in communication creates avoidable and unwanted stressors in managing construction.
When two teams are working under one project, errors are unavoidable to happen, and when they do, the blame is often passed around to different departments developing internal conflict. This unnecessary breakdown in communication can dramatically delay a project and hinders your business as a whole.
In our blog, we will discuss the detriments of disconnection between the office and the field. We will also provide actionable and practical tips to enhance communication between the office and the field, bridging coordination on the whole.
Why Is Smooth Communication Important in Construction?
Office and field communication is critical to a well-run project. However, countless times it feels like office and field teams operate their world. The office people may never foot on a construction job site because they are not required to do so. At the same time, workers in the field may never decipher the back-end intricacies of collaborating with different designers, architects, engineers, suppliers, and owners- all at the same time.
While office personnel is integral to coordinating nearly all aspects of the project behind the scenes, at the same time, without the skillset and dedication of the boots on the ground, nothing will ever get finished or done right. Each discipline contributes its talents to the construction project, and it’s vital to strengthen the respect and trust between the different players.
Miscommunication and conflict on the job site are nothing to be surprised about. But although it’s nothing new, it doesn’t mean it’s one you just have to accept it. No one needs the stress that these two problems bring into a construction project. Additionally, they also happen to be very expensive. One research reported that the average cost of a conflict on a job site was $10,948.00! And that was just the average. A conflict might even cost you hundreds and thousands of dollars if not handled promptly and correctly.
The High Cost of Disconnection in Construction
One of the common contention points experienced between the jobsite and the office is the barrier in communication regarding what’s going on in the field at any given point in time.
When office and field communication breaks down, you’ll experience:
- Loss of Data: If the worker on-site fails to report instances, the information will never make it to the main office or the master file. This slight overlook hinders the whole construction team’s ability to work effectively or analyze what changes could be implemented for better productivity.
- Schedule Delays: More than costing good work relationship, disconnection can also cost time. Moreover, scheduling conflicts can also push the completion schedule back substantially.
- Loss of Profit: A lack of up-to-date construction information can result in errors and more rework to get done. This can also be translated into additional materials, more staff hours, unnecessary costs, and less profit.
Now that we’ve addressed the downside of disconnected construction teams, what steps are needed to be taken to bridge the gap between the field and office to enhance data flow, improve timelines and prevent budget loss? The answer lies in incorporating digital strategy in your business. Here’s how:
Ways to Bridge the Communication Gap
Get Rid of Excel
In an advanced industry such as construction, it is essential to focus on real-time solutions for your workplace communication issues. Ancient technology solutions, such as Excel, might not cut either, especially when you’re not working with a system or software that allows all personnel to access the same applications and files.
Technology alone is not the answer to this dilemma— it’s the right technology that lets all the staff members centralize data and communication, such as project management software designed for the construction business. When everyone has access to all essential information in real-time, coordination and collaboration are accelerated between teams.
How does using Excel doing more harm than good in your construction company? Read our blog, “8 Reasons to Get Rid of Excel and Switch to Construction Management Software,” to learn more.
Switch to Mobile-First Approach
Seamless mobile access to all documents, plans, and systems are vital for connecting the office with the field. This enables employees to access information in real-time, whether in the office, on the job site, or at home. Jobsites typically run outside the standard working hours. If you have a significant change that occurs after office hours, your office staff may also need to be notified to make alternate arrangements for the workday to come.
Even if your current technology promises a mobile-friendly feature, look into what that means. By choosing the software that aligns with your construction crew management, the better chances both the office and field can connect when you needed it the most.
Get on The Cloud
Mobile apps that provide real-time communication often work through cloud technology. Meaning, it’s not only about installing applications on personal smartphones or devices; it’s about allowing for a program that each personnel connects to where the central information they need lives.
Even though there are various web-based construction management tools you can find in the market that is suited for construction professionals, it is better to opt for the ones that feature cloud technology. With the world transitioning to the digital era in all industries, the cloud is the place to be.
Standardize Your Technology
Field-specific technology isn’t always compatible with project management specific technology. Consequently, information tends to get lost or difficult to access when team members need it the most. Incorporating a solution that centralizes and collaborates field and project management workflows can put everyone in complete accord.
Moreover, standardized technology and processes are critical for your business. If you have no established technology, programs, and workflows and just let your employees run with their preferences, you won’t have real-time information to anyone. No matter how insignificant it may seem, standards can do wonders in keeping consistent information, enhancing communication effort on the whole.
Consider User-Friendly Application
There will always be traditional workers who will be apprehensive about adopting new technology and prefer to stick to the conventional methodology. The best way to encourage everyone in the company to embrace new platforms and technology upgrades is by ensuring that the programs you want to adopt are user-friendly and easy to understand and use.
However, there may still be some workers who dislike making changes, so you must make it mandatory to the whole company— but not without ample support. Proper training and providing enough transition period will help the entire workforce team up for success.
Create Shared Tasks and Goals
Creating shared tasks and goals that each member is informed with and encouraged to follow translates to a more cohesive project flow for any given project. While the project’s completion is the apparent end goal, keeping it at the forefront and establishing definite tasks will help propel each team member to have a common overall goal in mind as they work through the project.
Oftentimes, different workers have their own set of goals— finishing a portion of a project or just keeping up with their respective schedules. Usually, for the worse, these personal goals have a way to conflict with one another. Utilizing construction scheduling software task features can help teams create shared goals and track tasks each step of the way.
Centralize Data Storage
Rework is costly— in terms of money and in time. According to a recent study, 48% of all rework is caused by miscommunication. A data-driven culture aims to decrease the chances of losing information in the shuffle. Making the change in the work culture that enables all points to connect means you’ll decrease instances of conflict, improve the team’s overall productivity, and reduce costly errors in rework.
One of the typical reasons there are communication problems between the office and the field is that neither side understands what the other party does. Including visual aids, like photos and videos in your reports and attached to a presentation can help this problem immensely. Also, getting all the contractors and subcontractors aware of the schedule of everyone working on-site can help the office personnel have a clear picture of the workings on site. The right subcontractor scheduling software can help to streamline this intensive task.
While field and office communication is not the only pressing conflict that might arise in construction, it is the root cause of most misunderstandings on a project. Bridging the communication gap between the job site and the office helps alleviate many issues that can come up during the entire project duration. If you’re working with a more collaborative team, errors are minimized, and the morale is higher.
Interested in learning more about how you can improve construction project management in your business? Learn more about Pro Crew Schedule here.