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Covid-19: Companies embrace technology to streamline working practices

Updated: Apr 12, 2020

Construction companies are rapidly adopting technology that was previously ignored in favour of face-to-face collaboration due to the Coronavirus

Construction, contracting and building materials companies have so far been allowed to continue operating in the UAE during the lockdown due to Covid-19, with their work considered essential services by the government.

The Coronavirus has introduced a period where circumstance is fast-tracking innovation and new thinking. Companies are embracing technologies such as Microsoft Teams to facilitate collaborative working. Voice over IP provider Zoom has rapidly become a byword for video calls – be that one-to-one or one-to-many. Paperless transactions are gaining traction through the use of electronic signatures and company stamps.

Senior members of teams are trying new ways of communication, using widely available tools that were ignored by many businesses in preference for face-to-face interaction. One of the side effects of the pandemic is that organisations will become more efficient in their practices.

This is also a period where companies and employees are open to the idea of new working practices, and if some fail to catch on, it’s OK, because there are plenty of other approaches to try to keep internal and external collaboration moving.

Changing work practices are not limited to the back office for construction technology. Onsite construction continues, but companies are aware that they need to closely monitor and manage the health of their workers. Thermal imaging cameras are being used in some sites to monitor the temperature of employees. Some are also using thermal cameras offsite, at the point where workers disembark coaches and before they go back into their camps.

The use of drones in construction has been rising for some years, but Covid-19 will give them a boost as more companies use them as a tool for things like remote onsite inspection purposes. Technologies such as RFID tags and the Internet of Things are likely to increase over time as companies turn to new approaches to monitor the location of their materials – and this will become increasingly critical as companies start to manage their supply chain more closely. In a period where cash flow will be even more important due to stretched budgets and uncertainty over payments, detailed information on materials will be a key aspect of managing a company’s finances.

There is little technology adoption underway that has not been available for many years. The UAE – like many countries – has tended to approach work as something that is done face-to-face. As Covid-19 changes working practices, new approaches will stick if organisations see the value, with work more efficient, streamlined and cost-effective. Organisations may pick off the bits of technology they consider most important for their business, but over time this will expand as people grow more comfortable with a new way of working.

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