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A Look Ahead: What is the Future of Construction?

Staples Construction Team — November 23, 2020
A Look Ahead: What is the Future of Construction?

COVID-19 has impacted every market segment imaginable, and construction is no exception. As time passes, and we slowly go back to "normal," it begs the question… Where is the industry headed next?

Like many businesses, some general contractor offices experienced a pivot to working from home during the peak of the pandemic. Although the construction industry was considered essential, businesses made strong attempts to minimize risk and exposure during peak times. Kids playing in the background or dogs barking during a Zoom call became commonplace and laborers on job sites learned to take the highest level of precautions while continuing to get the work done. But as we quickly approach the end of this whirlwind year, many are turning to the year ahead and wondering what we can expect.

COVID-19 measures in place as employees complete inspectionThe Industry Transformed
What was once an in-person, industrious work culture has slowly transformed into a fully functional virtual space. Now more than ever, job sites have been set up with the most advanced IT equipment, a necessary feature to maintain limited exposure and follow state-mandated protocol. Although this means less face-to-face communication, companies have many different platforms that enable around the clock communication outside of email. Virtual meeting platforms such as Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams have had to keep up with massive demand, with live events being converted to virtual. Although this concept was born out of necessity, it catapulted the industry into a position appropriate for the times.

E-commerce Sees Sudden Spike
Shelter in place measures initiated in March created a necessary shift to online purchases. With consumers being encouraged to limit public outings, online sales rapidly increased in Q2 of 2020. Although this shift has long been anticipated, COVID propelled it to the forefront once and for all— a trend that isn't likely to see any decline over the coming holiday months with the uptick of cases. This is quickly driving retailers looking to expand their distribution capabilities to improve online serviceability, meeting the expectation of consumers for rapid, reliable service. In response, the AEC industry anticipates a shift from retail projects to industrial based projects to match the demand of e-commerce distribution centers ramping up for the holiday season and beyond.

Infrastructure on Pause
As the unknowns of COVID proved to be a long-term discussion, rather than a quick chat, public infrastructure projects saw a sudden halt. Government agencies buckled down as a preventative measure in order to recoup lost funds due to COVID. Although construction is seeing an upward trend in employment, the shift away from state and locally-funded projects is evident. The sooner we see federal officials implement funding for public infrastructure projects, the more secure the industry will remain.

The AEC Industry Emerges
As with anything, the landscape continues to morph and reshape itself as time goes on. Construction is currently seeing a boost in the employment rate with a heavy lead in the residential sector. As there has been a sudden increase in COVID cases just over the past couple of weeks, we can only speculate on the future based on current trends.  What we do know is that the AEC industry is fully capable of enduring, regardless of what the future holds. The pandemic forced companies to embrace more digital means of communication, redirected product demand, and quite possibly forever altered the way business is conducted. Regardless, we live in a resilient and innovative society and remain bullish on American ingenuity to weather this passing crisis and emerge even stronger.

COVID protocol mandates temperature checks when entering Staples office


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