There has been much ‘noise’ about the continued need for change, and to modernise the construction industry, let alone sustainability and the mental health of its workers. More and more sophisticated ways are being promoted to capitalise on big data and smart data emanating from the built environment and new roles to harness it promised. Daily it seems we are informed on the numerous digital benefits of advanced technology, internet of things (IoT), drones, robotics, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), nanotechnology, design for manufacture and assembly, BIM and so on. These are all fascinating and important innovations while in the background some nagging concerns remain.
Sustainability and well-being questions arise
- What can the construction industry easily and efficiently do about these concerns?
- Are sustainability and worker well-being improvements really out of our reach?
- Surely every paper-saving action counts on the road to achieving zero carbon construction processes?
- Should easily recognisable steps be taken day-by-day by as many as possible to reduce worker stress?
To answer these questions, some say there is a need, first and foremost, to learn from nature itself, as in biophilic design.
- In human terms this means learning from evolution itself. It means mastering the art of crawling before walking to be able to run to grow effectively, survive and thrive –metaphorically taking ‘one step at a time.’
- In digital terms this means mastering the art of digitisation and mobilisation to be able to become not only more productive but to become more sustainable and to enhance well-being.
Learning to digitise and mobilise construction processes
Digitisation signifies ‘crawling.’ It’s the first bold action towards participating and engaging meaningfully with the world directly improving sustainability – a milestone in any organisation’s history.
Learning to digitise, means quite simply learning to eradicate all paper-based processes through digital means. In doing so, the powers of internet connectivity and automation can be harnessed, to simplify and streamline digital processes.
Mobilisation signifies walking. It’s the second key action towards participating and engaging meaningfully with the industry directly improving worker wellbeing, another milestone in any organisation’s evolution.
Learning to mobilise, means learning to equip workers with mobile solutions. In doing so, it allows them to move towards cloud-based, real-time information sharing and fosters collaboration.
The dream -v- the reality
The dream : Imagine for a moment you step away from the construction industry for a while and live in a land beside coral reefs where post comes once a fortnight. To ensure continuity of communication with the rest of the world your first action is to ensure all those wishing to reach you can do so online to avoid the wait. This process can take a little time given the remoteness and the scale of organisations you are in contact with but once in place turns a time consuming administrative chore into ‘child’s play.’ It can allow you to enjoy living and working remotely where you are in ’paradise,’ even with intermittent internet connectivity.
The reality : Zoom back to the ‘real’ world and you will observe a global construction industry that still to a large extent relies on paper and unsustainable practices within an increasingly stressed and unproductive society.
In this context, is it surprising that we are seeing the downfall of some construction businesses today?
Research has shown that the continuation of unproductive practice not only continues the negative effects of global warming on climate change but also adversely impacts worker mental health and well-being.
There are some shocking figures to bear in mind. For example :
- Academic research reveals construction generates carbon dioxide (CO2) contributing to 23% percent of global warming from the ‘greenhouse effect.’
- A spokesman who represents the UK Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) reported last year that 2 people per week in construction take their lives.
Get digital. Get mobile. Get productive.
Make the dream real! Deploy technological solutions to reduce your use of paper and become stress-free.
Throughout the lifecycle of a construction project sustainability and well-being benefits can be reaped through the mobilisation of workers through their use of digital devices not only in the office but in the field.
In this way basic construction management processes, such as daily logging to a site diary, management reporting and issue management and quality compliance processes can be digitised across project teams from the outset of a project. This enables the entire construction workforce to digitise before more specific and advanced solutions relating to higher BIM maturity levels become valuable. There are easy-to-use technological solutions available for this, deployable on a large scale, that will contribute to improving productivity.
Investment in these solutions would ensure that environmental and well-being drivers for productivity improvement remain top concerns. Everyone from site workers with smartphones is his or her pocket to construction managers with tablets notices the immediate change and the usefulness of the devices he or she may already have.
The sustainability, well-being and productivity outcomes gained by mobile digital solutions, minimised travel requirements and reduced work duplication could transform construction workers well-being and ultimately contribute to saving lives through improvements to mental health.
A new paradigm – technobiophilia?
Scan your organisation for early opportunities to derive not only productivity but also sustainability and user well-being benefits from the combined benefits of digitisation for improved sustainability and mobilisation for improved well-being.
Promoting the use of mobile digital solutions during construction management processes, whether in the office or in the field, can assist you in benchmarking your future activities and help you earn user trust, long before robots manage your sites.
They can even positively contribute to reducing your business’s carbon footprint and improve your worker satisfaction. Perhaps the time is right to reap the combined benefits of technology with biophilic ideology through a new collaborative technobiophilic paradigm?