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The biggest dig leveled against the construction industry by those who don’t know the ins and outs of it goes something like this: “All construction workers do is stand around while one or two people do all the work.” Industry professionals, of course, know that there are many reasons for workers to be temporarily idle or “just standing around, watching people work” on the job site.

From civil engineers whose sole job is to ensure safety and compliance, to laborers who need to be available whenever duty calls, to tradesmen who sometimes have to wait their turn in a long process, workers who appear idle are often doing exactly the job for which they were hired. And most of the time this leads to greater efficiency, not less.

However, there are plenty of construction managers that constantly battle factors that impede productivity on the construction site often leading to missed deadlines, costly delays, and unsatisfied clients. Some of the most common blockers are:

  • Too much overtime: Scheduling extended eight-plus-hour workdays or 40-plus-hour weeks will affect a worker’s output due to physical fatigue.
  • Low morale: A workers’ willingness to perform at their highest levels can be affected if the job site is rife with conflicts, hazards, multiple contract changes, disruption of work rhythm, poor site conditions, or over-inspections.
  • Trade stacking: If there are too many people from various contractors in same physical space at the same time, it can lead to increased safety issues, misplaced tools, turf wars, etc.
  • Mobilize/demobilize issues: Moving resources on and off projects, as a result of changes or delays, can cause significant work disruptions.  
  • Reassignment of manpower: When workers are reassigned or experience unexpected changes, the time it takes to reorient is costly, not to mention the price of having crew members waiting around for new assignments.
  • Crew size inefficiency: When the optimal crew size is changed (either by adding or eliminating), it breaks up the established team rhythm, resulting in loss of productivity.

Finding ways to keep a work site humming along with the fewest disruptions will always lead to greatest productivity, and “standing around” will be for all the right reasons.

Check out a case study of how Qless helped a multinational chemical company eliminate contractor wait times and improve efficiencies to save millions annually