May 7, 2020

The new normal


Lockdown. Shock to the system. A glitch in the Matrix. The New Normal. Could someone have predicted this? Is this something we could have prepared for in advance? At first, the news is vague, contradictory, worrying yes - will the operation continue normally or will the entire system be suddenly shut down from a big on/off switch? There is a decimal error in the system. An error the size of a zero or a one. Even the slightest programming error in algorithms and worldwide cargo ship traffic jams, even the slightest anomaly, a virus entered into the system and aircrafts remain at the airports, worldwide passenger traffic practically ends, taxfree shops do not sell perfume and flight miles do not accumulate, departure and arrival signs say delayed, delayed, delayed, and outside the airport, idle taxi drivers chit-chatting about the ultimate purpose of life. Even the slightest virus in the system and the borders of the kingdom are closed, the highways are empty of commuters, children do not go to school, and mothers do not go to the gym, next summer’s boot-throwing world championships have been canceled, yes, that too.

People stop consuming anything apart from their couch fabrics and the trails of nearby forests, and the streaming services are taking the whole world as a subscriber. Society seems to be standing, but fortunately still on its own strong feet. Major construction projects are at a standstill. Construction work is not easy, not that it ever was. The consumer hesitates, does not see the future, home buyers do not appear to an open house, large investments are now being delayed to a more secure future, regardless of the sector. Subcontracting precipitates, labor cannot enter the construction site, the supplier's stocks are either overfilled or empty; logistics looks at events in horror and wonder - is this all our fault?

 We begin to understand the full extent of our dependencies; the sensitivity and fragility of this whole massive earth-sized structure. The problem we all face now is not local, even at the national level, but historic on a global scale, unique to the signatory and his generation at least.

Construction digitalization

Let’s push forward. Let’s look ahead. Focus on core operations. This has been the message from the field. This is how we do it, this is how we’ll get over this, we must. No bigger panic yet, not too much worry, let’s slow down a bit, postpone, wait. But how long will this take? How long do we last? This seems to be the atmosphere and spirit of the construction industry now. Accustomed to turbulence, of course, it has always been expecting the worst and is cautious in its movements. It waits for the moment when everything returns to normal. We all wait. But the question is: will it ever? Or is this “the new normal,” as so many people seem to think?

The truth is that no one knows. But in order to anticipate the future, we must at least imagine this new normal. Work must continue in the future, even if everything face-to-face is kept to the bare minimum. The sites must still be able to operate in an organized manner and within a precise shared timetable. Do the goods arrive at the edge of the plot correctly and at the right time, who is responsible for the alterations and their costs, who has all the necessary data and who is responsible for its flow, does the chain work properly even if people are at their remote workstations within a hundred kilometers, some in quarantine, some unable to return to the country or even to the continent for months, unable to go back to their office desks where all the important papers are... yes, in the middle drawer, I’m sure of it... or so I remember. And as everyone in the industry knows, even a day of downtime at a construction site can lead to financial disaster.

The builder builds, and the show must go on, no matter how the new the normal turns out to be. Even if these lockdowns become an “annual” thing, construction sites must keep their schedules and corporate performance targets. And even if people don’t flow to the open house in the same way, customers sitting on their home couches need to be offered an attractive channel through which the purchases and material configuration processes take place as pleasantly and naturally as possible, a place where they can continue to make their dreams come true even with VR glasses on.

The flow of information. Co-ordination. Collaboration. Punctuality. These are and will continue to be, the cornerstones. I believe that we’ve all been heading towards this so-called “new normal” for quite some time. Now we are just forced to speed up the inevitable. With a centralized platform, operations can continue to run non-stop and the course can be kept during the storm, no matter how hard it hits, and from where. So, despite the recent events impacting the entire world, at GBuilder we keep confidently steering towards a new, more integrated tomorrow.

Let's hope things will get back to normal soon. For now, be safe!

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