Don’t stand on the outside of construction

Construction site with tower crane

I am sitting here about to meet some friends, and I had a flick through my Twitter news feed. I came across this article from The Economist “Efficiency eludes the construction industry.”

The article brings some interesting statistics into the spotlight about our industry. It is sobering and slightly confronting having what we already know put in our faces.

Now, this could be a case of me not seeing the forest through all the trees. Looking from the outside, looking in and then writing about our industry is flaunt with danger. And like a lot of people within the industry, this article is exactly why we don’t read “construction news.”

By the time I got to the end of the article, it felt like it was a personal attack of sorts. And the frustration comes from the very fast finger pointing at construction companies fighting for profits and lack of investment. Hang on, isn’t making a profit what being in business all about? The statement, “lack of investment” is a courageous comment.  I know so many tradesmen that love to show off their shiny new power tools.

Just look through social media, all the new power tools that are coming on to the market. Every other tradesman on social media are trying out a new Dewalt power saw, or a Milwaukee cordless plumbing snake (yes they exist, no more pulling every trap apart).

Construction is in the business of people

And this is where the article falls apart; it completely misses the human, the person, the tradesman building each building. Construction is not a commodity business; construction is in the business of people.


The Economist efficiency article
Image screen grab copyright The Economist

The Economist touches on the feast and famine cycles that construction has to deal with, but again misses the individual that makes up construction. Each and every single individual goes through this cycle as well.


I will put it to you this way; would you work hard, look for better ways to do tasks, knowing that you have no employment at the end of the project?

If we want to deal with the “inefficiencies” of the industry, let’s start getting in touch with the people that make up the construction industry.

Automation, robots and all the technology that promise to “disrupt” and “change” the industry is a long way off, before you argue, read this. And if we stop treating the industry as a commodity, the “worker” will be the one that brings the change that everyone keeps screaming about.

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