Costs set to remain high for extended period, consultant adds

The construction industry needs to embrace flexible working patterns and make the most of digital tools and technological innovations to get through a difficult next few months, according to consultant Gleeds.

The firm’s energy and infrastructure report for Q1/Q2 highlighted the challenge posed by cost inflation arising from the war in Ukraine.

Douglas McCormick, group executive director, said it was “difficult to predict the long-term outcome” of the crisis but that inflation was likely to remain high for a longer period than previously expected.

“The construction industry will need to react quickly to circumstances as they emerge, much as it did successfully during the height of the covid-19 pandemic,” he added.

The report advocates the adoption of “new approaches” against this “challenging backdrop”. It urges the adoption of technology, digital tools and data and modern construction methods to enable infrastructure projects to be delivered more efficiently.

Gleeds_Douglas McCormick

Group executive director Douglas McCormick said the industry needed to react quickly as circumstances change

Gleeds said this was “an enormous opportunity” for greater use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in construction, including in supporting risk management, identifying opportunities in delivery and helping explore solutions.

The authors also endorsed flexible working as a way for the industry to address its “image problem” and attract and retain talent.

They specifically referenced a study by Build UK and Timewise, which reported improvements in wellbeing after embracing flexible working with no adverse effects on project budgets or deadlines.