The past few months have been challenging for construction businesses due to the COVID-19 crisis. With governments around the world implementing strict stay-at-home orders to slow down the spread of the virus, the supply chain has been significantly disrupted and many construction projects were temporarily closed.
Many construction business owners have adapted to these trying times and implemented flexible work arrangements to continue business operations. And by using new technological innovations, you can soften the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on your bottom line. For example, the use of time-tracking software can facilitate your operations as you and your employees operate in multiple locations. Here are some of the ways this type of software can support your construction business.
1. Protect your employees and customers
As construction employees return to work, it’s essential that construction businesses protect their employees and customers in their back to work plan. Many States are recommending or mandating screening for certain workplaces and have zero tolerance for sick workers reporting to work. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued new guidance for employers so they can legally screen employees regarding COVID-19 symptoms. In Massachusetts they require employees to Self-certify prior to some shifts and require workers to leave the work site if they are sick.
Having a time clock app with a built in COVID-19 safety screening feature is an effective way to protect, attract, and retain employees and customers.
2. Record employee hours accurately
There’s no question about the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis on your construction business. With the supply chain experiencing slowdowns and most of your workforce forced to work at home, it is important now more than ever to be strict with tracking employee hours. Some of the most common problems in time tracking, such as time-theft, unauthorized overtime, buddy punching, and even human error, can take a sizable chunk from your bottom line.
These issues in time-tracking should be the least of your concerns during the pandemic. Record employee hours efficiently and accurately by using time-tracking software. Time-tracking apps allow construction business owners to track employee hours, even in real-time, ensuring that employees are working on the tasks assigned to them even with remote supervision
3. Manage leaves, entitlements, and payroll
Some of the bigger adjustments that you need to get on top of as a construction business owner are the changes in your payroll as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. While the payroll department largely played a support role before the crisis, it is now one of the critical aspects of your business. Your payroll department should be able to give fair compensation to remote employees while also incorporating new rules for sick pay and leave entitlements as well as government subsidies.
Having a centralized platform to track and apply these important payroll management tasks will help immensely in ensuring accurate calculation for the compensation and benefits of your employees. This will help you avoid any payment issue which can have a significant effect on your liquidity and cash flow.
4. Assess employee performance and maintain communications
Flexible work arrangements are probably a new thing for your business. As such, what works in an office environment and on the construction site might not work in a work-from-home setting. For this reason, you will need to analyze your business performance during this crisis and address areas for improvement. Getting as much data as you can from your current operations will give you a solid foundation with which to make your management decisions.
Time tracking software with built in project management checklists and team messaging can give you a huge amount of data that you can use to assess the performance of your employees. A deep dive into this data will yield valuable insight that will help you identify business risks and determine some of the weaknesses that you need to improve upon.
With some of your employees working in their respective homes, they may not be as productive as they were in the office. The presence of colleagues and the general office environment is actually conducive to employee productivity. In comparison, there are several distractions present at home—kids, neighbors, household chores—that can negatively affect your employees’ workflow.
In order to minimize these disruptions, you should ensure that everyone is on the same page with regard to the tasks that they need to do. This is where the use of time tracking software shines. With this type of software, you can assign tasks and create work schedules for employees ahead of time. Having their work duration recorded will help with personal accountability and even boost their work engagement as they work at home.
5. Improve your billing and receivables collection
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, being proactive in filing required notices like the Florida Notice to Owner to protect lien rights and collecting invoices has always been a good practice. But because of the COVID-19 crisis, getting on top of your billing and collection is crucial now more than ever. Many of the steps you need to take to handle the crisis involve using your cash reserves. And with operations being limited by supply chain disruptions and stay-at-home orders, you will experience cash flow issues as well.
By using time-tracking software, you can create in-depth reports about your different tasks that are valuable in giving out construction quotes and work estimates. It also lets you give accurate invoices and avoid any potential payment issue down the line.
The COVID-19 situation is evolving and the months ahead still pose a difficult challenge for all industries. In order to survive this uncharted territory, construction business owners need to embrace new tech innovations such as time-tracking applications.
About the Author:
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle.com, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers with late payments. Handle.com also provides funding for construction businesses in the form of invoice factoring, material supply trade credit, and mechanics lien purchasing.