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8 tips for boosting productivity in the construction industry

In an industry as labor-intensive as construction, few things can hurt a contractor’s output more than unproductive workers. Here are eight tips for improving productivity.

  1. Don’t blame your workers.

While it’s tempting to blame poor productivity on lazy workers, late starts and unwarranted breaks, the fact is that most construction workers endeavor to be productive. More frequently than not, poor productivity is the outcome of waste and inefficiencies that are within management’s control.

  1. Focus on unproductive time.

Research by the Construction Industry Institute shows that craft workers usually spend less than half of their time on responsibilities. The remaining time is spent on unproductive activities, such as waiting for equipment and materials, waiting for instructions or waiting for work zones to be set. If for example, workers spend only 30% of their time on direct work, your ultimate opportunity for productivity gains is to center on the 70% of worker time spent off task. In other words, reducing the amount of time workers spend off task will produce better benefits than trying to improve their efficiency during the time they spend on the task.

  1. Conduct an activity analysis.

Spend some time observing activities on job sites and evaluating the results. Often, this process will tell opportunities to improve productivity. For example, better scheduling and logistics can cut delays that result when workers have to wait for materials or equipment, or for other workers to complete their work. In many cases, solutions are astonishingly simple, such as finding a way to store materials, equipment or tools closer to the zones where they’re required, or storing materials on wheels so they can be moved more easily. Strategies for reducing personal time — such as locating portable toilets closer to work zones — can also have a noteworthy impact on productivity. On one high-rise project, a structure

For example, better scheduling and logistics can cut delays that result when workers have to wait for materials or equipment, or for other workers to complete their work. In many cases, solutions are astonishingly simple, such as finding a way to store materials, equipment or tools closer to the zones where they’re required, or storing materials on wheels so they can be moved more easily. Strategies for reducing personal time — such as locating portable toilets closer to work zones — can also have a noteworthy impact on productivity. On one high-rise project, a structural contractor reduced the amount of time it took for workers to have lunch by arranging for a sandwich shop to operate alongside the structure.

  1. Improve communications.

Poor communication between supervisors and workers can result in needless mistakes and redo work, causing productivity to suffer. With proper training, supervisors can learn how to communicate assignments to workers and ask the right questions to guarantee they get it right the first time.

  1. Take advantage of technology.

Web-based project management applications, scheduling software, and other technological inventions can increase productivity by speeding up communications, providing workers with the latest project information in real time and making the construction process well-organized.

  1. Set realistic goals.

Performance-based motivations can be an effective tool for motivating workers and improving productivity. But it’s critical to set realistic objectives. If workers feel that performance targets aren’t achievable, productivity may actually drop.

  1. Pay attention to safety.

The most significant cause to have a strong safety program is to avoid injuries. But good safety practices also decrease the delays and downtime associated with accidents on the job site.

  1. Manage overtime.

Unnecessary overtime can result in fatigue, higher accident rates, absenteeism and worker turnover, all of which can hurt productivity

If you have a remark or more information on this post please share with us in the comments section below

Dennis Ayemba
Country/ Features Editor, Kenya

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