Making your project the project of choice–for workers

By Kevin Larmondin | July 23, 2020

There are reams of publications, estimating guides, reference materials, and internal and external benchmarking data regarding items that negatively impact productivity, whether it be site complexity, working at height, adverse weather conditions, and site congestion, to name a few. But, what about quantifying the influences of soft issues like remoteness of site, rotation schedules, camp amenities, and the ability to connect back home with family and loved ones? Items that affect the motivation of all workers. There are currently no evidence-based methods that can quantify the cost implications of these items. Hatch, in collaboration with Concordia University, aims to identify factors that influence productivity, assess the degree of impacts, and quantify the effects of these factors.

Productivity is described as the measure of efficiency. It’s expressed as a ratio of input versus output. Collectively, it includes benchmarking hours, unit costs, the cost of labor, the price tag of inefficiencies, and many other variables. The construction industry has an abundance of data on productivity. A fundamental key to high productivity is high worker motivation/engagement. There are a lot of studies on productivity, but not on motivation. What we don’t have is a formula for what affects employee motivation, particularly those working on remote sites. Hatch is working with Professor Moselhi, Director of the Center for Innovation in Construction and Infrastructure Engineering and Management at Concordia University, to solve this knowledge gap. This will help to improve productivity at remote operations by identifying factors that influence productivity, assess the degree of impacts, and quantify the effects of these factors.

Soft issues, hard homework

Soft issues are generally more difficult to measure and assess as to their impact on productivity. When it comes down to crunching the numbers and understanding the results, doing our homework is truly hard work. Our first-hand experience of remote project sites positions us well to undertake this assessment. We can assess conditions, focus on people and behaviors, explore concepts that affect motivation, and collect and analyze data to develop strategies to prevent personnel turnover and mitigate project risk. Ultimately, this will secure your position of being the project of choice.

No shortcut to success

It’s not easy to quantify soft issues such as time away from home, connectivity, and the quality of accommodations and catering (to name a few). Data collection and analytics take years. What we do know is good living conditions, seamless travel to remote operations, and prioritized health and safety of staff all affect the psyche of a worker. And what you want is a worker who feels safe as well as a sense of purpose on site. Safe and purposeful means motivated and a motivated worker is a safe and productive one. Conversely, what’s not good for the workers, is not good for the project. Continuous turnover, for instance, results in the demand to re-train and re-educate people, creating a perpetual learning curve on the project negatively shaping the productivity of our delivery operations as well as the project momentum. This is what we’re trying to avoid, and what we’re also trying to quantify with our productivity assessment focused on remote sites.

There’s no shortcut to success. Thorough assessments take time. There may be additional upfront costs that you might want to limit on your project. But as the saying goes, sometimes short-term pain means long-term gain: having the correct numbers will save you a lot of money in the long run, while also minimizing project risk. And keep in mind: it’s not about having the most expensive option, but rather the best combination of options for your workers.

Safety is paramount, technology a solution

The health and safety of staff is paramount. When looking at the best options to keep workers motivated, considerations need to include a focus on safety, amenities, and connectivity. Nothing is more important than the well-being of our people and those we work with, along with the focus on continuous improvement. We strive to innovate in all that we do, and our assessments of productivity for remote sites are no exception.

Advancements in technology and proper integration of our delivery tools so that the right information is available to all stakeholders at all times eliminates the huge demotivator of material and information wait times for our field execution teams, partners, and contractors.

Put simply, improvements in productivity reduce site hours, consequently resulting in reduced exposure hours, and ultimately improved safety. The knock-on effect will also result in a reduction of indirect costs related to camp size, catering and travel costs, as well as fuel consumption reducing the project’s carbon footprint.

As mentioned before, connectivity is also a major issue–this is a big space for technology and systems to be incorporated to advance remote operations and improve mental health, motivation, and in due course, productivity.

The project of choice

The goal of our productivity assessments for remote sites is to develop a productivity assessment model that will include factors related to personnel working on remote sites and quantify the impacts of these factors on worker productivity. Through the identification and evaluation of these factors that influence productivity, our goal is to enhance the well-being of all workers, chart a path to optimized productivity, and make your project the project of choice.