Construction sites are almost always noisy. With everything going on, when a site goes silent, it almost feels strange, like something is out of place or misaligned. As standard as noise is on a construction site, it’s a small miracle that any communication is established once the first machine or piece of equipment is turned on.
However, communication on a construction site is essential for everything to be done well. Communication is key to keeping employees safe, making sure every employee knows what they are supposed to be doing, coordinating any changes to the construction plan, and setting schedules, logistics, and budgets on site.
The following tips, such as virtual reality tools, can improve your construction site communications to ensure nothing gets lost in noise, hubbub, or chaos.
Use all communication tools
Never exclude a form of communication just because you are unfamiliar with it or because it is new.
For example, more and more architects and contractors are using virtual reality tools to get a sense of the final product and to facilitate day-to-day operations. In a very noisy construction environment, VR maps a finished design, checks views, and tries to identify flow issues, like dead space.
Another “new” tool for construction sites are virtual meeting platforms to bring multiple parties together in a meeting even if they are not in the same room. Combined with virtual reality, these platforms can be powerful methods to help illustrate design concepts, construction needs, and challenges for everyone involved in a project.
Another tool that many industries have discovered has more applications than expected: wireless communications. This allows two or more parties to communicate instantly, which can be invaluable on a busy and noisy job site. For example, consider a case where a client requested that a new project design be changed.
Previously, the project or construction manager would coordinate with the client or their representatives and try to bring everyone together. If that was not possible, the manager would relay messages between the parties and coordinate a response to the request or a means to meet their needs. At the very least, this approach was cumbersome. Often, this resulted in significant delays in project completion, particularly if a subcontractor needed to change had moved on. With wireless communications, each party participates in meetings to discuss adjustments or alternative avenues. Wireless also helps managers coordinate the work of contractors. By answering questions in real time, work that might have been delayed while waiting for a response is resolved almost immediately.
Set up a communication channel
Routing information correctly without wasting time is the key to construction management. During a typical day, here are some of the communications that may take place:
● Provide daily instructions to a work team.
● Coordinate material purchases.
● Arrange for equipment, contractors and contractors to attend.
● Respond to customer questions and concerns.
● Manage work and ensure it meets quality assurance standards.
● Planning lunch breaks.
Each requires a process of communicating with the appropriate personnel so that the right decisions are made quickly. Of course, on a construction site, they all bring a cacophony of catchy noises, making it difficult to convey messages accurately.
For example, asking an employee questions about the design or the materials to be used wastes time for both parties. Similarly, asking the project manager to coordinate lunch breaks is a waste of time and money.
why is it important
A hierarchy in communication processes ensures that the conversations or decisions that need to take place or decisions are made by the right people. In a construction environment, supervisors and qualified construction personnel must all be on the same level to ensure site accuracy, productivity, and safety.
A well-established communications hierarchy allows for proper control of all information and communications. Everyone likes to believe in the ideal of a free flow of information, but the reality is that sometimes control of communication is necessary. This is especially the case if the environment does not lend itself to long discussions, such as a noisy construction site.
Be clear and concise
A very noisy construction site is not an ideal environment for long conversations or messages. Of course, the more information the better, but all communications reflect the reality of a critical environment like a construction site.
When crafting messages for employees, make sure the message is as brief as possible, and only includes the information necessary to understand the message’s intent. To do this, avoid using jargon or overly technical language.
If, for example, the customer changed an agreed topping choice, all you need to convey to your staff is what the customer wanted, the goals and expectations of the employees, and the turnaround time. This type of brevity works with employees and customers because it relies on the principle of information literacy to facilitate decision-making.
Create quality checks
Quality checks are an integral part of life on any construction site. In many cases, a construction process or job will not be approved until it exceeds the minimum quality thresholds for that particular task or project. Regardless of the size of the project, every construction job is quality checked before final approval.
Your communications on a very noisy site should be no different. When you relay a message, you need to be sure that the person receiving it understands what you were trying to convey. You should also be able to easily track all work and changes. This means setting up documentation processes, as well as taking notes during meetings. This will streamline communication even in the noisiest environments and improve its overall clarity.
Communications on construction sites are increasingly technologically advanced. Some are even using virtual reality and on-site video conferencing to help coordinate work. Of course, you need to have the basics mapped out. By doing so, you can maintain effective communication no matter how loud the construction gets.
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