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How will construction site flexible working impact the PL Insurance Risk profile?

15 September 2022
The construction industry continues to adapt to a range of challenges, not least the continuing skills shortages, which flexible working (accelerated by pandemic lockdowns) has affected in a radical and positive way.

The enforced home working during the COVID pandemic accelerated the adoption of flexible working within the construction sector and radically changed old perceptions of remote working.

Flexible or hybrid (office/site/home) working has been routinely implemented for office based staff, but has been hugely challenging to adopt for the site-based workforce and manual production roles. Most site-based non manual roles, focus on the management, supervision and coordination of directly employed and subcontracted operatives with activity such as planning, analysis and reporting all able of being carried out remotely.

Designers have successfully adapted to incorporate flexible working by utilising dedicated shared IT systems that enable design services and implementation of review protocols to be replicated effectively when working remotely.

Remote working enables effective and key focus to be applied to the planning and delivery of projects, implementation of dedicated IT processes that identify project delivery risks early to ensure effective management; and controls are applied to eliminate risk of insurable events being realised.

A number of recent independent studies have identified that both contractor organisations and designers have recognised clear benefits from wider adoption of flexible working, such as;

  • A huge reduction in one-day sickness absence, enabling continuity of delivery, a major success especially given the sector’s poor mental health and well-being record which is in part fuelled by a culture of long hours. (sector’s annual absence loss £160m in 2018 Health and Safety at Work Executive)
  • Positive impact on the bottom line, less need for office space means reduced overheads, rent, heat and lighting, less travel to meetings reduced expense claims.
  • Improved performance and productivity, because employees are motivated and focussed to work in ways that suit them better able to manage their commitments outside of work. Less staff churn due to improved wellbeing and satisfaction - essential in ensuring continuity of training, development and ultimate improved quality of skills.
  • No reported adverse impact on project timelines, quality standards or costs when flexible working was increased.

Flexible working is key to improving recruitment, retention, diversity, gender imbalance and progression - all of which aids in addressing some of the cultural issues and demanding work patterns that contribute to the sector’s struggle to attract and retain talent.

Employee retention is essential for maintaining the continuity of project teams, ensuring the integrity of quality management such as effective application of inspection and test planning for the delivery of construction activities.  

The construction industry continues to adapt to overcome a range of challenges, not least the continuing skills shortages, which flexible working will help to address, particularly aiding with the retention of key skills and experience that are provided by an older workers to enable a better life balance, in a sector that has a key risk with the decline in its ageing workforce.

Implementing flexible working in Construction continues to evolve, however this has become a significant factor in improving attraction of the industry for essential talent to increase productivity and eliminate the commercial and Insurable risks on projects.


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Further Reading