Study: COVID-19 Protocols Hamper Productivity

The study dives into exactly how coronavirus mitigation is impacting productivity and takes a look at some potential long-term effects.

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The coronavirus pandemic has certainly taken a toll on the national and global economy, changing the ways businesses operate and how people across the world perform their everyday jobs. And while the construction industry in the United States has certainly been an economic bright spot over the last few months, it has its own COVID-19 challenges.

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But while it’s easy to spot the obvious ways this pandemic has altered businesses, specific effects on productivity are harder to quantify. With that in mind, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractor’s National Association (SMACNA) partnered with the New Horizons Foundation to conduct a study examining how construction operations have been impacted by new coronavirus protocols.

“The report highlights important data that can help our members better understand quantitative impacts of the pandemic, accurately advise their customers, and adjust their future project bids as needed, ensuring members have a best practices approach to working in the new normal, said Guy Gast, chair of the New Horizons Foundation.

The study collected data from sheet metal, HVAC and mechanical contractors. Here are some of the key findings:

  • The average worker lost 85 minutes of productivity per eight-hour work period due to COVID-19 mitigation protocols such as PPE management, cleaning and disinfection, access rules and extra administration time.
  • On projects, 8.7 percent of hours available for productive work were lost due to mitigation requirements.
  • Contractors lost seven percent on projects on average.

“The true financial impact of productivity losses can take as long as three to six months to fully play out in a company’s finances,” the study says. “Cash flow projections based on assumptions that do not include excess production costs and associated overhead costs can easily foster a false sense of security.”

The full report, which can be purchased here for $50 and is free to SMACNA members, includes a road map to help contractors adapt to the new normal. The executive summary of the report can be found here.