The effects of the pandemic have been far-reaching and it has prompted a lot of workplaces to look again at flexible working.
SAEMA monitors the latest developments in the construction sector, particularly regarding worker health and safety, sustainability and equality. In a programme co-designed with Build UK, Timewise – a consultancy specialising in flexible working, piloted flexible working in site-based teams at four leading construction firms. The results have proved that flexibility can be implemented successfully, despite the sector’s significant operational barriers.
Site-based construction work is a particularly tough challenge for flexible working. With its location based work, inter-dependent team roles, and a long hours’ culture created by rigid deadlines, the options for flexibility are more limited than for most sectors.
The demanding working patterns are believed to contribute to a troubling record on mental health and wellbeing, as well as challenges with gender diversity, so the sector has increasingly been searching for solutions.
Within its programme of pilots, Timewise tested a variety of flexible options that gave construction teams greater control over their working patterns. As our report shows:
- Flexible working CAN be implemented on construction sites, with no adverse impact on budgets or timelines.
- Flexible working increased workers’ sense of well-being and work-life balance.
- The team-based approach to giving workers greater control of their working patterns energised the teams – people reported they felt more motivated.
- The culture became more positive around acceptance and understanding of flexible workers.
As in other sectors, the pandemic overturned a lot of assumptions. It has proved that you can adapt – to having smaller teams on-site, to honing teams to minimum numbers at any one time, to staggered starts, and even – for some tasks – working from home.
With skills shortages threatening to hold construction back, even as the economy reopens, there’s every reason to look at how to turn the lessons of the pandemic into new ways of working.
You can see the full report from Timewise here.