Last week, Deloitte released a midyear update of its 2020 Engineering & Construction Outlook, noting three distinctive trends the adjacent industries are seeing that will likely influence how work is done for years to come.
2019 was a year of significant growth for the industries, despite various factors such as increasing materials prices, an ongoing labor shortage, and changes in bidding and project delivery methods. Many economists were predicting continued growth through 2020, with chances of a slight recession in the near future. Enter the novel coronavirus.
Like many other industries, the pandemic upended the "normal" way of doing work for E&C companies. While the industry hasn't faced quite as much hardship as some (read: hospitality) these past few months, COVID-19 has still provided challenge after challenge and forced us to change the way we think, plan and complete work.
The pandemic continues to be a global issue, and is even spiking in many areas of the United States, but work also continues for firms across the country. Here's what the Deloitte report had to say about the effects of the pandemic on the industries:
- Industry recovery—As recovery begins from the downturn caused by the pandemic, the industry will be marked by a period of recovery in which firms are forced to find the "next normal" for operations, bidding, project delivery, and more. Along with the rest of the country, E&C firms will be trying to complete projects that had altered timelines and also figuring out processes and protocol for to keep workers safe long term.
- Digitization—Did we say processes? Let's talk about them. One potentially unintentional, positive change coming from the pandemic is many firms have been forced to look at their jobsite processes and invest in digital solutions to keep projects running as smoothly and efficiently as possible while paying attention to safety.
- Ecosystem partnerships—The pandemic is also changing the way companies think about the partnerships with other companies and suppliers work for seeing a project through to completion. Having strong relationships with industry technology providers, materials suppliers and more is more important that ever. These partnerships also apply to the way general contractors work with federal entities to bid and win projects. With some form of a federal infrastructure bill coming soon—we hope—the opportunity for growth through public projects is ripe for the picking, but will require systematic planning and efficiency.