No matter how smoothly everything seems to run throughout a construction project, there will always be slight issues or things that go wrong. In fact, BRE estimates that up to £20 billion is spent on repair and rebuilds every year as a result of defects. Much of this is attributed to construction communications failures. But how can you avoid them?
1. Poor communication between stakeholders
Right from the planning stage, all stakeholders must be completely aligned in what they expect from the project. This includes the investors, clients, designers, construction managers, contractors and subcontractors. Even those further down the supply chain should have some degree of communication with the higher-ups. There needs to be a line of communication that everyone can get behind. If there is a lack of team synergy at the start, the project is almost certainly doomed to failure.
At some point in the project, there will be issues that may require changes to scheduling or the allocation of resources. It is much easier to make adjustments when everybody is on the page and working towards the same outcome. Projects can be stressful, but it is important to recognise that everybody is on the same team. It can be easy for ‘us and them’ tension to arise between the contractors and the client, especially when there’s a lack of communication. Any such tension needs to be quashed immediately otherwise it could completely derail the project.
It may be more time consuming at the beginning of the project to ensure proper communication between stakeholders. However, this will be time saved in the long run and give the project the best chance of finishing on time. This is supported by research by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which says that 37% of projects with minimally effective communication finish on time. This is compared with 71% of projects with highly effective communication.
2. Weak management
At the source of an efficient project is a good leader – without this, everything can quickly crumble. Management is a desirable position for some – the opportunity to be in charge. But it’s crucial for the manager to communicate effectively with their team.
A good project manager will know the strengths and weaknesses of their team members and delegate tasks that they are best suited to. While it is important to have strong management, good work needs to be recognised. Workers generally respond well to positive feedback; they’re more likely to respect those in management. Constantly pointing out flaws, without recognising the good work, can lead to a demotivated workforce. This will ultimately slow the pace of the project down.
As problems are identified by management, it is important for them to be able properly communicate the issue to their team. It is up to them to ensure the workers understand what needs to be done and how they can adapt.
3. Delivery of training
No matter the industry you operate in, training is a crucial part of the role. It is important for every team member to have a working understanding of each process involved in a project. Without regular training, how is the workforce expected to develop?
Communication in construction is vital in being able to properly train staff. Staff must be confident in what they know so they can deliver training effectively. If training is not delivered well, then naturally projects will begin to suffer. It will take longer to carry out tasks and mistakes will be made that drive up costs. If training is communicated poorly then the workforce at your construction company will feel like they aren’t learning anything and may move elsewhere.
With the processes in the construction industry constantly changing, it’s no longer enough to offer one-time training. On-the-job training is one of the most popular ways to train workers in construction, with it being provided to 43% of employees in the UK industry, according to the Construction Industry Training Board. It’s also one of the clearest methods to communicate training to a new worker, as they are seeing how something is done with their own eyes and getting hands-on experience.
4. Neglecting technology
Thanks to the modern world of technology, there are a number of different methods for communication. Particularly in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, this has made communication in all industries just like construction much easier. But while liaising on-site may be a simple conversation, getting in touch with those working off-site may be more difficult.
There are also a number of mobile apps that help streamline communication between a construction project site and an office. Including EasyBuild’s own mobile apps that help to collaborate in real-time with your team, record time, manage your tasks and clients all from your device.
Each construction project will involve a number of processes and communication is key to keep everything running smoothly. Sometimes things will happen that will rock the boat. However, it’s important that the entire team stays in the know about what is going on.
According to a study by Dynamic Signal, 85% of employees lose at least one or two hours of productivity a week while searching for information. So you’re looking at the prospect of losing upwards of 50 man-hours per week – a huge contribution towards the wasted £20 billion every year. If this information were to be better communicated with the workforce on the construction project then a lot of time would be saved. Also, 52% of rework is attributed to poor project data and miscommunication so you’ll be saving money too.
There are a number of factors that may contribute to poor communication in a construction project. It may stem from weak management who are unable to communicate tasks properly to their team. It’s crucial to avoid confusion throughout a project, this wastes a lot of time and will lead to unnecessary additional spending. Technology is something that individuals undertaking a project will benefit from in making communication among the team much more efficient. This will ensure you avoid being part of that wasted £20 billion each year.