Methods of
on a construction
site for a
staggered team

Author: Lauren McMenemy

The construction industry involves more than those men and women in hi-vis vests you see on site; there's a whole world behind the scenes, and much of it has been impacted by the global pandemic. Facing supply chain issues on top of a shortage of subcontractors and materials, the industry has taken a hit in 2020, and methods of communication on a construction site have suffered alongside it.

The US construction industry is expected to shrink by 6.5% in 2020, and by 2.0% in 2021. Not only is the industry dealing with the economic impact of the pandemic, it’s also grappling physical challenges including social distancing requirements and ill or at-risk workers. The pandemic has forced construction site teams to work in staggered patterns, allowing fewer people on site at once but pushing the site as a whole to work longer days.

These changes in work practices and conditions may mean that teams have to adopt new methods of communications on construction sites.

Why is communication important in construction?

Construction teams rely on strong and robust onsite communications for a number of reasons, beginning with the obvious need for collaboration to execute multi-part projects. Strong methods of communication on a construction site also ensures safety is kept top of mind—36% of employees across industries have felt that poor communications put them in an unsafe situation at work.

Onsite communications issues can result from incomplete (or incorrect) documents as well as outdated data and technology. When communication on a construction site is overlooked, it puts every aspect of the project at risk from timetables and milestones to work quality, legal compliance, budget and safety.

Seamless communication with crew members is essential. Leveraging multiple channels from a grab bag of mobile, radio and software application options can help ensure teams have a back-up plan if one system fails.

The new communications challenges facing construction crews

With smaller crews working on staggered schedules, project managers need to ensure construction stays on track and work is allocated efficiently.

Take a high-rise construction site as an example. Crews are spread across multiple floors, on the ground and in the site office. Site managers need a quick and reliable way to reach any crew member anytime. But communicating on a construction site is virtually impossible without a reliable mobile network.

A staggered work pattern also can create communication barriers for crew members. Is information effectively passing between crews at the start and end of each shift to keep everyone on the same page? For instance, how is a concern flagged by the evening shift escalated and communicated to the morning crew?

Staggered crews need solutions that issue clear, concise and timely messages on the right platform. Site managers and crews alike should embrace flexible solutions, which can be deployed quickly and act as agile methods of communication when typical protocols are impossible to uphold.

But, maintaining normalcy can be helpful for everyone involved. Establish a communication chain and points of contact to help the right information get to the right people at the right time. Remember to make the medium fit the message, too; email will be fine for one thing, but another may require an urgent all-staff assembly or a mass text message telling crew members to stay away from a certain part of the site.

In with the new (without sacrificing the old)

Connectivity is key. Look for an alternative to traditional landline business phones to enable communications without boundaries. A solution like Verizon One Talk— a voice, video and messaging system that uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology and Verizon's 4G LTE wireless network—can support construction workers by allowing a single mobile or landline number to reach them wherever they are, whatever device they are using. At a time when everyone is managing changing and conflicting schedules, a mobile solution that links site managers with crews is critical.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices can help bring disparate methods of communication on a construction site together under one umbrella. It's not just about your crew members; IoT in construction also can help you track assets, manage site and material logistics, and monitor equipment deployed remotely at job sites.

As you integrate new communication technologies into your construction site network, it's important to regularly address potential security risks. Each distinct communication tool could be a point of vulnerability if not properly protected. A managed services partner can help keep your network and tools secure so that you are free to share data safely and reliably across all job sites in real time, all the time—and stay ready to adapt and transform security policies as needed.

Agile communications solutions are integral to the success of construction sites working within the demands of a staggered schedule.

Learn more about how Verizon's construction technology solutions can help crews get back to work quickly and safely.