Contractors are carrying several concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic over into 2021, the largest of which is the continued impact on projects, workers and supply chains. That’s according to the “2021 Construction Outlook National Survey Results,” conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage Construction.
Contractors’ biggest concerns for 2021 include (in percentage of contractors that responded):
- The continuing impact of the pandemic on projects, workers or the supply chain: 84%;
- Material costs: 58%;
- Increased competition for projects: 55%;
- Not enough private sector work: 44%;
- Worker shortages: 43%;
- Worker quality: 40%’
- Rising direct labor costs (pay, benefits, employer taxes, etc.): 40%;
- Federal regulations: 36%;
- Inadequate funding for infrastructure: 35%;
- Inadequate legal protection against unwarranted coronavirus-related claims from worksites: 33%; and
- State and local regulations: 33%.
Contractors’ biggest healthy and safety concerns include inexperienced skilled labor/the workforce shortage; steps needed to minimize risks from coronavirus; safety hazards created by third parties such as nonemployees spreading coronavirus on jobsites; poor subcontractor safety and health performance; and lack of cooperation from government agencies or regulators.
The top technologies in which contractors expect to invest in 2021 include (in percentage of contractors that responded):
- Document management software: 26%;
- Project management software: 25%;
- Accounting software: 20%;
- Estimating software: 19%; and
- Human resources software: 18%.
Contractors expect their firms to use mobile software technology for daily field reports; employee time tracking and approval; access to customer and job information from the field; sharing of drawings, photos and documents; and access to job costs and project reports from the field. Most firms have a formal IT plan but 7% of contractors reported that while they don’t have one yet, they plan to create one in 2021. Firms’ biggest IT challenges include time needed to implement and train on new technology; employee resistance to technology; communication between the field and the office; connectivity to remote jobsites; and keeping company data secure from hackers.
When it comes to cloud-hosting technology, contractors are most likely to use it for project management, field operations, accounting and time tracking.
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