Insights and best practices for construction management technology and project delivery

  • May 15, 2018

Five essential corporate trends: Set yourself apart from the competition

 In Part I, we discussed how company culture impacts team members. In Part II, we’ll examine how five corporate trends help organizations distinguish themselves from competitors and gain a leading edge. 1. Corporate trends: The biophilia hypothesis E&C organizations have also created many new and innovative approaches to redeveloping their physical workspace. The biophilia hypothesis proposes that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other forms of life. Connecting workers in office environments with nature certainly isn’t new, but it’s getting a lot of recent traction. I visit many clients who’ve added courtyards, gardens, beehives, and natural light to their work spaces. For example, CookPlusFox Architects in New York City designed the Bank of America tower at One Bryant Park— the first LEED Platinum certified skyscraper in the U.S. CookPlusFox was one of the first architectural firms to incorporate the biophilia philosophy as part of its company culture and brand. As a result, the firm has become an incubator for future leaders in the field interested in sustainable design.

2. Corporate trends: Cross-discipline training

Years ago, a co-worker and I were dropped by helicopter on top of a New Hampshire mountain to perform routine maintenance to a remote hybrid power unit. We hiked 12 miles back to civilization after completing our tasks. For the typical cubical dweller, opportunities such as these are both memorable and rewarding. Offering employees different, unique experiences (i.e., cross discipline training) adds immense value to company culture. I became a better designer after seeing and touching a working model—something I’d only previously known from a CADD station in 2D. Shared experiences amongst the designers and field engineers forge a bond across everyone in the organization who worked on the project.

3. Corporate trends: Workplace culture and customer satisfaction

Chances are your client won’t be posting a raving five-star review on Yelp if you do your job well, but we all know how the phones light up when you don’t. It takes a lot to move the needle up a favorable notch or two, but, it’s quite easy to make the needle drop. A good impression begins with solid communication— regardless of your industry, service, or product. The organizations that adopt solid communication practices as a culture are well-positioned to have their clients become reference accounts. When clients are happy, everyone should share in the success. Organizations that consistently recognize the importance of happy customers draw and retain the best employees.

4. Corporate trends: Learning and development

Organizations should identify what differentiates quality talent. The millennial workforce is keenly aware of company culture. Technology plays an important role in which opportunities millennials will pursue to further develop their careers. Engineering and construction firms that continue with monotonous and inefficient practices (hello, spreadsheets) will not likely retain creative thinkers. A recent Deloitte University Press survey states that, “more than two-thirds (of millennials) believe it is management’s job to provide them with accelerated development opportunities for them to stay.” Finding employees who understand how to effectively enable and use technology is paramount. Developing existing talent through ongoing learning and training is also crucial. Many of the most successful organizations either have their own certifications or allow corporate access to credentialed training as a measurable component to an employee's career growth.

5. Corporate trends: Technology as a culture

Just a few years ago, assigning smartphones and tablets to construction workers as part of their job was unheard of. Construction, while making major leaps, still lands near the bottom of the list for adopting technology. These days, employees in the field can’t imagine doing their jobs without smartphone gadgets. That said, the E&C industry still has a long way to go in terms of digital transformation. The challenge of seamlessly integrating and connecting E&C teams remains. This disconnect is partly due to there being three main locations where people work: the office, the worksite, and the field. These three locations must establish an easily repeatable communication strategy to reduce errors and resolve issues quickly.
  • The office: Access to technology is plentiful in the office.
  • The worksite: Wireless signals or trailer workstations are the norm at worksites, but communication is somewhat limited. Accessing documents between organizations is difficult due to on premise applications, corporate networks, and firewalls.
  • The field: Often no signal is available on handheld devices in the field, so technology must function offline and then sync. The technology is readily accessible, but looming disconnections still prevail. Breakout sessions at nearly every construction related conference and forum prove the challenges of communicating in the field.
E&C firms that explore, adopt, and develop technology as part of their corporate culture will be well-positioned as future industry leaders to help drive job satisfaction, productivity, and ultimately— profitability. Read more about Oracle's Aconex here.  

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