Our Senior Commercial Manager Mark Catton MSc FCIOB speaks about his experience of remote working and the benefits it can bring to construction projects and teams.

Does remote working in construction work?

In my experience, a qualified yes …

Construction will always need site-based teams, that is a given. But what about the more administrative tasks …. are completing these tasks the best use of your site managements time, or would their time be better spent managing the site, ensuring it is run efficiently on time and on budget?

Whilst I may call them administrative based tasks – they are vital to commercial success of any project. I call them administrative as they involve the collation of information, which doesn’t have to be done on site. How many QS’s work on multiple sites or large-scale projects who may only get to site a few times a month?

My experience is on the commercial side. Whilst the project is on site I have worked with many clients reviewing drawings, site diaries, meetings minutes, photos etc. and talking with site management and subcontractors to support the team in managing change control – issuing EWN’s, identifying and pricing variations with supporting documentation, producing claims documentation and the production final accounts.

During the preconstruction period I have produced Bills of Quants, reviewed contract documentation, priced tenders and assisted in procurement.

When you have QS’s and Commercial Managers looking after multiple sites taking away these administrative based tasks allows more time to properly analyse their contracts to fully understand the commercial position of their projects. This then allows them more opportunity and time to put in place strategies to ensure that contract is maximising its potential profit margin and cash flow.

Remote work tools and communication platforms have evolved well beyond phone calls and emails. I connect with project teams via video and chat platforms and with the variety of video, chat and collaboration tools available I have the ability to connect with project members in an instant and meet face-to-face over video.

Senior managers are also able to utilise these tools and get updates on my progress in real time and if needed are able to communicate with me in an instant.

Remote workers have been shown to be more productive as they don’t have the distractions suffered by their office counterparts this saves you time and money and they are nimble, they use technology which  enable them to get up to speed quickly and to jump in and out of projects as required, again saving you time and money .. you only pay for the task required.

I accept this is not for everyone and there needs to be trust between the parties, but I believe there is a place for remote working and a definable benefit of utilising remote working QS’s within construction.