The modern construction workplace is moving towards a more remote workforce. The traditional arrangement involves project managers moving from one construction site to another to check how each project is doing. Because this system was time-consuming, labor-intensive, and more importantly, expensive, construction businesses have leveraged new technologies to manage the workforce without being on location.
With just a few clicks on a computer or a touch on a smartphone, project managers are able to monitor those who are working on-site, determine how long they have worked through real-time tracking, and collaborate with supervisors and team members to brainstorm ideas and issue commands.
The convenience brought by new communication technology is not without its disadvantages. The sheer number of workers off-site can make project management overwhelming, especially for those new to a remote management system. But for the construction industry to evolve, it has to adapt. For your guidance, here are some helpful tips to make the remote management of your construction workforce effective.
Use a solid communication platform
Communication is the first thing that you need to consider when it comes to remote management. The reliability of a communication system is crucial in ensuring a smooth flow of decision-making from you as the workforce manager to your team members working on the field. This is especially important when communicating with team members working on construction projects in different states and time zones.
You have several options for communication tools currently available on the market that you can use for online meetings, text and video chats, and emails. Ideally, you want a collaboration platform where you can centralize construction site information and control how it is shared. These are several types of software that any remote construction team needs:
- Project Management Software – The complexity of construction projects can make management overwhelming. A project management software where you can delegate tasks can ensure all stakeholders are on the same page.
- Team Conferencing Software – When a quick email is not enough, meeting face-to-face through a team conferencing software can make communication between you and your remote team flow more freely.
- Employee Scheduling Software – Since most sites operate with extended hours comprised of multiple shifts, you may need to use employee scheduling software to manage your employees.
Whatever your choice may be, use only one communication tool and stick with it to maintain consistency.
Streamline your task management process
There are two things that you need when managing the tasks of a construction workforce. First, you need to have all members of the team on the same page. And second, you need to be able to address issues immediately to prevent delays. To do these, you need to use a project management tool to identify site issues, follow up tasks, and set job deadlines.
Again, there are numerous project management tools that are available on the market. It doesn’t matter which one you use but look for a tool that lets you organize your tasks by type or urgency, specify the work that needs to be done, and set a schedule to prevent project delays.
Get to know your remote team members
When managing remote team members, workforce managers tend to just talk about the tasks that need to be done and call it a day. This is understandable since most construction projects run on tight deadlines. If this is the case, however, you are missing one critical part of remote management—building rapport with your team members.
Project managers need to be proactive in creating instances that can make the whole team get to know one another. After all, with a remote workforce, there is no coffee maker or photocopy machine at which to bump a colleague into and make small talk. Instead, you can create a non-work channel in your communication tool so your team can talk about non-work-related things.
Building rapport comes from a genuine desire to get to know a person. Take the time to do this and your team members will like working with you even more.
Celebrate your team’s milestones
Let’s face it. Construction work is not always a happy experience. Some of the aspects of the job are exhausting, especially with the dangers present in the field. It is up to you as a remote team manager to alleviate some of these work issues and improve their work conditions. Celebrating the milestones achieved by your team works wonders for all employees, even more so for your remote staff. Giving recognition to their achievements brings a sense of fulfillment to the work they have done.
One of the ways you can show this is by writing about your remote team in company-wide blog posts. You may also highlight their achievement in your company newsletters and even on your own website. This puts a spotlight on the work they do and provides an opportunity for other members of your company, especially upper management, to get to know your workers on the field.
Another thing you can do is hold a virtual party complete with food and activities. It can be as simple as ordering a pizza while holding a virtual conference after work.
Meet with your team in person
Having the tools to manage remote teams may have made traveling from construction site to construction site unnecessary. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to meet with your team in person once in a while. Socialization is still has a huge impact on a team’s morale and meeting your team members face to face can improve your relationship.
A team get-together is a perfect opportunity for you and your team to get to know each other beyond your usual work interactions. You can use this event to talk to them personally about their performance reviews, their plans for the future, and what the company can do to improve their working conditions.
Managing a construction workforce is challenging. Managing a remote construction team is even more so. To create and maintain a productive relationship with your remote employees, make sure that you have the right tools for communication. As long as you communicate your messages clearly, keep track of the work activities, and get to know your team members, your project will proceed smoothly.
About the Author: Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster by automating the collection process for unpaid construction invoices.