Nobody plans for a mistake or setback on a construction project, and people don’t prepare for a pandemic. The COVID pandemic struck the world with no heads-up, and it left many of us struggling to find ways to keep things together and continue moving forward. The changes that COVID and quarantine-life have introduced have been difficult for everyone to adapt to, but it’s safe to say that there’s at least an avenue for growth hidden amongst this mess.
The Coronavirus pandemic lead-way to several changes in the way we do things, especially in the construction industry. For us, working from home was never a “thing.” Although sanitary measures should always be taken, likely, they weren’t enforced as strongly until the concern for contracting a potentially deadly disease became apparent. At Gallagher Bassett and for many other construction industry professionals during the beginning of the pandemic, we began to play catch-up to the tech-savvy world. We’ve operated in an old-fashioned manner for a while, and there was no real reason to adjust our sails until quarantine and specific regulations were enforced.
Though these times are tough and unmeasurable, we can at least appreciate that they have pushed us to primarily appreciate what we have and, immediately after, learn how to do things in a way more suitable to the circumstances. For industries outside of construction, doing things “differently” could have meant working from home all day rather than some days out of the week or, let’s say, students in college, taking all online courses instead of visiting the campus. For us here at Gallagher Bassett doing things “differently” meant configuring and launching an entirely new platform to host our training courses online in a (very) short period. At the same time, leading our students through this new learning format while simultaneously learning it ourselves and doing whatever else outside of that to keep our doors open and business afloat. It wasn’t a smooth transition, but we did what was necessary to provide as smooth of an experience to our customers as possible. An online platform has been on our to-do list pre-COVID, but it’s safe to say it wasn’t promptly on our radar until a shutdown was in place.
Our online/virtual training allows us to offer training to as many people as possible, but we’ve also made changes to the way we conduct in-person safety training as a result of COVID. While we miss being able to host large groups during onsite training sessions, smaller groups of people in a class invite more substantial training sessions and connections between trainees and instructors. Just a few months ago, onsite training was out of the question. Now that we have some flexibility to offer in-person training, we have followed new protocols to ensure safe practice.
Taking a bag of equipment to an onsite training was always part of our routine; we’ve just added some new items to our packing list for post-COVID activities. In addition to demonstration equipment like a fall protection harness, helmet, or ropes—now, we can’t forget our personal protection equipment or lugging as much hand sanitizer as appropriate whenever visiting a construction site. In addition, our instructors are likely to consider extra time for spacing out the group they’re about to teach for an efficient amount of distance between everyone to lower any chance of spreading the virus. To make things more interesting, there’s also the process of checking-in and getting temperatures monitored before even accessing the site. Because we are advocates for safe practice in all areas, sanitary precautions aren’t the biggest of changes for us, but it’s still a different process than what our clients and we are used to.
To sum things up, the post-COVID world for the construction industry has been new territory, likely newer than other sectors that have already fully adopted the technology at our fingertips. Though we haven’t ignored the advances technology offer to our services, we were dragging our feet to embrace them as we’ve maintained the pace of work our clients know best—in-person training and less paperless communications where possible. Although a pandemic isn’t a desirable reason to have implemented the progressive and necessary changes we have, there’s still some good to see through it all. We’re happy to continue offering quality services to our clients while enforcing sturdy protective measures.