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Skanska

Construction industry urged to apply COVID learnings to ‘new normal’

Balfour Beatty, GKR Scaffolding, Kier, Mace, Morgan Sindall and Skanska have published an independent industry research report into COVID-19, that stresses the importance of carrying pandemic learnings in construction beyond the crisis.

The independent report, “COVID-19 and construction: Early lessons for a new normal?”, based on research conducted by Loughborough University experts into six UK major construction schemes, explores the industry’s health and safety response to the COVID-19 pandemic and potential medium to long-term benefits arising from extending and embedding these new working practices.

The report demonstrates how the changes made during the pandemic reflect a phenomenal effort by site staff, frontline workers and occupational health and safety professionals to adapt safely and efficiently to the rapidly evolving situation.

The research identified that, despite overall site productivity being negatively impacted due to social distancing requirements, individual and team effectiveness and productivity had increased for a number of reasons including better and more detailed task planning, reduced waiting time between tasks, increased space and therefore less “overlap” of trades, a boost in the use of technological solutions, more responsibility for individuals and less meetings.

The research also explored the effects of working from home and found that, notwithstanding the cost, flexibility and productivity benefits, making this a permanent solution could have a negative impact on employees with a rise in social isolation and uncertainty of expectations.

Whilst new approaches have been adopted in response to COVID-19, the report presents several recommendations that should be taken before these approaches can become truly embedded into the industry’s ways of working. In doing so, the industry can make substantial, lasting and transformative changes to working practices, productivity and efficiency.

Russell Adfield, The Health and Safety Executive’s Head of Construction Sector and Policy, said: “This industry-led report highlights the significance of having Construction, Design and Management regulations (CDM 2015) – to ensure effective communication, co-operation and co-ordination of workplace practices to both protect workers from risk and allow projects to advance, even in the most difficult of times.

“Involving workers and the supply chain in planning and designing the work is an essential component in developing trust and achieving positive behaviour which will ensure the industry continues to play a critical role in stimulating the economy as we respond to COVID-19.

“With health, safety and wellbeing at the heart of what all companies do, it is clear that the learnings from COVID-19 should extend beyond the lockdown period and shape the whole industry for the better.”

To read the report in full, please click here.

Greener office spaces boost bottom line and staff productivity, says WorldGBC…

A report from the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC) reveals the impact building owners, designers, developers and employers are having by investing in greener office spaces.

Released under the organisation’s ‘Better Places for People’ campaign, the document pinpoints the global drive behind implementing green and healthy office operation and design, and showcases 15 buildings that are ‘leading the way’. 

As a result of improving noise levels, layout, lighting and indoor air quality at its office in Doncaster, Skanska cut sick days by two-thirds; in turn saving the company £28,000 in staff costs in 2015.

Terri Wills, CEO of the WorldGBC said: “While our earlier work presented the overwhelming evidence between office design and improved health and wellbeing of workers, this report breaks new ground by demonstrating tangible action businesses are taking to improve their workspaces. The results are clear – putting both health and wellbeing, and the environment, at the heart of buildings, is a no brainer for businesses’ employees and the bottom line.”

The report identifies eight key factors in creating healthier and greener offices which can impact on the bottom line:

  1. Indoor air quality and ventilation – a well-ventilated office can double cognitive ability.
  2. Thermal comfort – staff performance can fall six per cent if offices are too hot and four per cent if they too cold.
  3. Daylighting and lighting– a study found workers in offices with windows got 46 minutes more sleep a night than workers without them.
  4. Noise and acoustics – noise distractions led to 66 per cent drop in performance and concentration.
  5. Interior layout and active design – flexible working helps staff to feel more in control of their workload and encourages loyalty.
  6. Biophilia and views – processing time at one call centre improved by sven-12 per cent when staff had a view of nature.
  7. Look and feel – visual appeal is a major factor in workplace satisfaction.
  8. Location and access to amenities – a Dutch cycle to work scheme saved €27m in absenteeism.

Beth Ambrose, director within the Upstream Sustainability Services team at JLL, and chair of the WorldGBC Offices Working Group added: “The business case for healthy buildings is being proven. All over the world, companies, both large and small, are redesigning their offices, changing working practices and trialling new technologies, to improve the wellbeing of their staff, tenants and customers.” 
Access the full document here

Remain ‘cash-flow positive’ with Harvard Technology’s solutions…

Harvard Technology is a pioneer in connected smart lighting solutions, developing a suite of web-based, Internet of Things enabled wireless control and management solutions for interior and exterior lighting. Installed around the world, Harvard’s solutions are delivering substantial monetary and energy savings for many blue chip clients, including Oxford Brookes University, EON and Skanska. Harvard can now deliver solutions backed by a finance package allowing clients to realise these benefits whilst remaining cash-flow positive.

E:  Sales@harvardtechnology.com

W:  www.harvardtechnology.com