Construction’s ”New Normal”: Understanding Barriers to Working Time on the Post-COVID Construction Site

Ross Mew
In the early months of 2020, the declaration of the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic brought about drastic changes to the way we all live and work.

Almost every industry has been impacted to some degree, especially construction. We are no longer asking if we will we be affected. Now we are asking, “How much are we being affected, and what can we do about it?”

Whether your construction site shut down due to shelter-in-place initiatives and is now preparing for restart, or operations have continued under social distancing measures, it is critical to understand the extent to which work progression has been hindered by current conditions and identify opportunities where owners and contractors can work together to ensure the efficient progression of projects.

For almost two decades, Faithful+Gould’s Time on Tools® service has been delivering independent assessments of barriers to working time on construction sites. By placing experienced field observers at your site, working collaboratively with both owners and contractors, we provide a highly detailed breakdown of how shift time is being spent by each trade, contractor or location.

Comparing assessment results from your site against our database of more than 1,000 similar studies (under ‘old normal’/‘baseline’ conditions), we identify areas where the greatest volume of working time is being lost compared to an industry baseline, quantify the extent of that lost time and make recommendations on how to mitigate those losses.

Six reasons to undertake a Time on Tools® assessment on your post-COVID construction site

In these chaotic and uncertain times, it can be hard to know when and how to take action. Here are six ways we are helping our clients improve their understanding of work execution in a post-COVID world and navigate emerging working time barriers using Time on Tools®.

1. Understand the effectiveness of your current social distancing measures.

Both owners and contractors have been hard at work revising standard procedures and devising new processes and strategies to enable work to continue under new restrictive guidelines. It is hard to know just how practical and effective those plans are once implemented. Our service enables clients to gain independent insight on the effectiveness of their current social distancing plans in the field.

2. Estimate the impact of post-COVID procedures on crew working time.

What percentage of a standard shift are workers able to progress planned tasks? We can identify your average working time per shift and compare against our industry average database to estimate the impact of the post-COVID work environment on working time at your site.

3. Identify and quantify major barriers to working time.

With significant changes to standard working practices and a reduced workforce, your greatest barriers to working time will have likely changed. Our assessment will identify the barriers to working time under “new normal” conditions and provide you with granular data in an interactive data report to help determine the root causes.

4. Improve work efficiency by identifying mitigation measures to increase working time.

Following analysis of collected data, coupled with the intimate understanding of your site by our in-the-field consultants, our assessment report provides you with a series of site-specific, practical and cost-effective mitigation measures to reduce barriers to working time.

5. Assist in the identification of collaborative solutions to benefit both owners and contractors.

Under these current difficult conditions and with both owners and contractors under increasing pressure to deliver projects on schedule and within budget, we need to work together to achieve shared goals. Our assessment methodology aims to work closely with all stakeholders to understand barriers affecting the progression of work and presenting solutions beneficial to, and agreeable by, all parties.

6. Infer the impact of working time delays on project cost and schedule.

Using the granular data collected from a Time on Tools® assessment, our risk consultants can undertake a qualitative and quantitative cost and schedule risk assessment to more accurately determine forward-looking impacts to your project.


With a reduced workforce and significant changes to the way we execute work on construction sites, it is now more important than ever to have a strong understanding of factors preventing crews from the progression of planned work. With some suggesting the influence of social distancing measures could remain strong into 2021, it is important to act now to develop our understanding early.

Faithful+Gould’s exclusive Time on Tools® service is designed to help you quantitatively identify and mitigate barriers to working time on your site. Whether you have been continuing work under social distancing conditions, or are planning a project restart, it is crucial to understand precisely how your workforce is being affected now, not only to mitigate those impacts but also to understand how workplace efficiency will change as elements of the current social distancing measures are phased out over time.


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