The construction industry has faced difficulty with labor and materials shortages of late, and rising costs could put further strain on projects across the country. Beyond that, many professionals will travel to Florida in support of reconstruction efforts, the ripple effect of which could delay project timelines, impact budgets, and hold up projects funded by the infrastructure bill. These tensions are not the kind that can be solved by any one solution. Recruitment strategies to bolster engagement within the workforce, and education programs that encourage entry into the field are a starting point to alleviate the lack of talent. At a time like this, however, what the industry needs is flexibility.
Causes for Fluidity in the Labor Market
Current projections from McKinsey show that in the year of peak demand for projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, there will be a shortfall of more than 160,000 workers in the contractor and subcontractor field, 145,000 in materials, and 40,000 in engineering and technical services. This does not take into account projections for years outside of the bill’s lifecycle or projects outside of the infrastructure bill. Given this gap, workers may travel to find higher-paying work and housing solutions will be needed to accommodate this fluctuation in the industry’s job market. As talent pools become strained, firms should consider upgrading their housing benefits to bolster retention of specialists they cannot afford to lose while attracting talent seeking their next place of employment. In times like these spending extra time to show crew members that you prioritize their well-being both on and off the job site will go especially far.
What Goes Into Coordinating Workforce Housing
Project Managers at any given firm need to not only manage the deployment of physical materials to numerous job sites at any given time but also source housing for multiple teams, juggling variable timelines. With crises happening in both the materials supply chain and housing, targeting the right length of stay for any project has become increasingly difficult. PMs, or their logistical coordinators at their headquarters, already have to manage factors such as distance from job sites and pricing in non-local markets which can make an accurate estimation of a project’s budget a numerical nightmare. Add in the current fluctuation in gas prices and travel times between job sites and crew housing raises in criticality. Flexible stay options can alleviate some of the pressure on PMs, who no doubt would rather be focused on materials delivery, job site compliance, or any of the litany of other details that will delay the project's timeline if left unattended. Ultimately, the solution is to spend more time on the research and finding housing partners who know the industry and can approach finding housing for crews with industry challenges in mind.
Start Sooner Rather Than Later and The Payoff Will be Noticeable
With the current state of the sector, sourcing housing ahead of the normal timeline allows PMs to better understand the options. As talk of a potential recession looms just as material costs in both residential and commercial construction are starting to lighten, it appears that there will be no relief coming soon to budget scrutiny and bid estimates. Initiating the housing process early can make the difference between a prime stay for your crew in an apartment or condo versus overpriced hotel rooms, which feature fewer creature comforts and more cost to your customer. Variability within the market can make significant shifts to project timelines and with this being a condition the industry will have to deal with for the foreseeable future, consider sourcing partnerships with organizations that understand the heightened need for flexibility, especially when it comes to managing a critical resource, your workforce.
Ultimately, navigating current challenges will require a degree of forward-thinking. It can be difficult to anticipate when exactly a disruptive event will occur, however operating with the mindset that things can and will change is a starting point. Remaining adaptable and flexible is an integral part of seeing projects through to completion amid ongoing friction. Moreover, where teams stay and how comfortable they’re made to feel is one way to make a difference as they put in hours and weeks on job sites.
Author: Carlos Abisambra, CEO of Travelers Haven