Recently I have been monitoring the Nextdoor App and the comments written by my neighbors regarding their response to the virus and the shutdown of normal life. We live in a boating community and a popular spot to anchor nearby is called Lake Boca. Two weeks ago, despite many of the boats adhering to social distancing and their passengers being limited to immediate household members there were others doing quite opposite. It is uplifting to see families enjoying each other’s company on their own vessels and communicating with others, yet from a safe distance. Unfortunately, some were not adhering to the recommendations and some of the “raft-ups” were ten boats long. This naturally led to the shutting down of public boat ramps, as well as the ramps of most multi-family properties in the area and policing of the lake and waterways for offenders.
Immediately following this, I was surprised to see those affected by the shutdown requesting that all boating to be shut down. Apparently they did not think it fair for the people who keep their boats on private property (or have access to a private ramp) should be permitted to continue to boat if not everyone could do so too.
AGC reports that while construction industry unemployment a month ago was at an all-time low, it is now enduring rapid job losses, despite being classified as an essential industry. As written on their website, “Ken Simonson explained that 45 percent of respondents reported experiencing project delays or disruptions. Shortages of material, parts and equipment, including vital personal protective equipment for workers such as respirators, were reported by 23 percent of respondents. Eighteen percent reported shortages of craftworkers, while 16 percent said projects were delayed by shortages of government workers needed for inspections, permits and other actions. Thirteen percent said delay or disruption had occurred because a potentially infected person had visited a jobsite.” Everyday we are getting calls from those affected as the percentages go up with time.
Somewhat similarly to Lake Boca, some unemployed workers are lobbying for the industry to be shut down as a whole now that it has shut down in part. I hope and pray for a paradigm shift in the mindset and actions of these people, for what is needed now is unity and support for the industry, not further encouragement of its shuttering.
Where to start if you have mixed feelings:
- Look inwardly: If you don’t love the construction industry, your job, and what you do, utilize this time to plan what you want your future to be and how to accomplish it. After interviewing thousands of people over several decades, it is easy for me to ascertain who loves working in the industry who merely works in the industry because it pays well and they can do the work. Although, it does indeed pay well. In November of last year, ConstructionDive published an informative article comparing us with other industries in this regard. A good way to tell if you love what you do is demonstrated with your commitment and desire to engage, ideal conditions or not.
- Support those who do love an industry that has supported you and provided you with an income. They may love it so much that right now even though their co-workers or the company by which they are employed is not a good cultural fit. They choose to overlook imperfections in their situation and do their part to stay employed to care for their families, have provision to help others less fortunate, and to support the overall industry.
- If you see people working in the industry not following OSHA guidelines for COVID-19 use your voice and social media to encourage, coach and privately address your concerns. Make sure your facts are accurate.You may have seen something that appears different from its reality. For instance, can you really tell from a picture that the people are over 6 feet apart?
- Some people may not be following the guidelines, but that doesn’t mean their supervisors or employers are not providing safety training or supplying appropriate supplies to the offenders. They may not know their associate is not in compliance. Construction sites are spread out and manned by imperfect human beings. Each person has free will and different levels of understanding and training from various leadership teams. Jobsites consist of tradespeople from multiple companies. Help share the coaching and training sites and spread messages of hope, encouragement, and appreciation instead of messages of fear, jealousy, and disdain.
- Have compassion for those still going to work each day, as many are leaving their families and are having to work in restricted environments. They are working at half their accustomed speed when most are wired for immediate action and results. They are also being policed by everyone that can see them because, so many have nothing better to do.
Despite so many Construction Management and Management support professionals working from home, seemingly to enhance convenience, they are in many cases working harder than ever. They are working around home schooling and meal preparation, and navigating around new or increased technology and communication processes. They are by no means in their routine, and often limited to a a bike ride or walk when feeling an impulse to physically exert themselves.
Living through this pandemic is not easy for anyone. We all need to encourage each other each until we get through this.
Whatever your situation, this is for a season. You choose if it is winter, spring, summer, or fall for you and others.