Recognizing and Retaining Beneficial Changes from the Pandemic on the Workforce

RT-400 Topic Summary
RT 400


The COVID-19 pandemic brought about sudden and significant changes in the way construction companies operate and how their employees work. Companies were compelled to implement numerous innovations and improvements to maintain operations at their offices and construction sites and to reduce project delays. As they put in place new safety precautions, virtual meetings became routine, and technological advances were expedited.

Many observers now see these pandemic changes as beneficial, because they sped up digitization and imposed new standards and workflows that have the potential to save time and cost. Their value is not uniform. While some changes are likely to persist (e.g., remote meetings), others are more likely to be phased out (e.g., face masks or staggered workforce shifts). It is important to compile the advantages of these breakthroughs brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to advance the construction industry moving forward, as well as prepare it for future disruptive events such as other pandemics.

CII commissioned Research Team 400 (RT-400) to identify the beneficial changes brought on by the pandemic in the construction industry. RT-400 began this study with three questions:

  1. What changes did the pandemic bring about in the construction industry?
  2. What impacts did those changes have on the industry?
  3. Which of these changes should persist beyond the pandemic?

To address these questions, RT-400 conducted a thorough investigation, reviewed existing research, interviewed 40 subject matter experts, and conducted a broad survey. The team collected 245 survey responses from diverse participants, who provided information on the characteristics and applications of the pandemic-driven changes.

By analyzing the results of these efforts, RT-400 identified and defined 21 changes spanning six functional categories. While the construction industry rapidly adopted many changes during the pandemic and benefited significantly from implementing them, the team found three pandemic-driven changes to be most widespread and potentially long-lasting:

  • Workforce management (e.g., remote work, employee benefits)
  • Technological advancements (e.g., use of design review platform, visualization tools)
  • Managerial processes and practices (e.g., milestone adjustment, contingency increases)

RT-400 converted the lessons learned from this study into recommendations for the construction industry, suggesting which changes should endure for companies’ long-term benefit, and which other changes should be documented for future reference. The team’s final report provides thorough documentation of pandemic-driven changes and serves as a guideline for organizational change adaptation.

Key Findings and Implementation Tools

1 : Pandemic-driven Changes in the Construction Industry

RT-400 conducted rigorous studies on existing research, interviewed 40 subject matter experts, and surveyed 245 respondents. From the results of these efforts, the team identified 21 pandemic-driven changes in the industry spanning six functional categories. While most of these changes were applicable to industries in general, the figure shows at right and in solid green the five distinct changes that the team discovered were specific to construction (FR-400, p. 13).

Reference: (FR-400)

2 : Information Cards for the Changes

RT-400 created an information card to explain the characteristics and impacts of each pandemic-induced change it had identified based on a robust analysis its interview and survey data. Each card includes pertinent information about one change, such as its description, examples of how that change was implemented, the number of respondents who underwent it, and various applications of the change based on organizational and professional characteristics (FR-400, p. 6).

Reference: (FR-400)

3 : Recommendations for Changes to Implement vs. Changes to Document

Based on positive perceptions towards each change, RT-400 provided two key recommendations for organizations (FR-400, p. 23):

  • Implement or increase the use of 11 favorable changes to realize long-term improvements.
  • Document 10 other changes for future reference.
Reference: (FR-400)

4 : Recommended Steps to Preparedness

The figure summarized five preparedness actions recommended by construction experts. Throughout the interviews, industry experts indicated that businesses should make these changes both for their overall improvement and to prepare for future pandemics (FR-400, p. 24).

Reference: (FR-400)

Key Performance Indicators

Implementation of changes, Adaptation of innovations, Preparedness of potential crisis

Research Publications

Construction Industry Changes: Beyond the Pandemic - FR-400

Publication Date: 07/2023 Type: Final Report Pages: 95 Status: Reference

Presentations from CII Events

Session - Beyond the Pandemic: Pandemic-driven Changes in the Construction Industry

Publication Date: 08/2023 Presenter: Number of Slides: 45 Event Code: AC23