Polypipe Civils Comment: Q1 2021

Steve Durdant-Hollamby, Managing Director Polypipe Civils is BMBI’s Expert for Civils & Green Infrastructure.

As the industry eases out of lockdown, there is a real sense that the way we conduct business and execute some of our commercial functions has changed.

Quite what the legacy of this Covid-accelerated evolution of workplace practice will be is difficult to determine, but it has revealed how – under the right stewardship – businesses can adapt quickly and change – areas in which construction has previously struggled.

Covid has helped us better understand the importance of holistic wellbeing. It is all too easy to forget that the dynamic between home and work, isolation and human interaction, urban space and natural environment needs balance, and we must work hard to maintain it.

That said, more traffic on the roads and getting stuck in tailbacks, is a sobering reminder of pre-Covid life. Productivity, for those business maintaining operations through the pandemic, has risen with the obvious absence of out of work distractions. It will be interesting to see if these output levels can be sustained.

Confidence in the efficacy of the vaccination program will see many sites return to near normal practice. Face-to-face meetings to work through issues and re-establish relationships are welcome benefits, but it will highlight the skills and labour shortages that existed across construction before lockdown. Wage inflation in construction could become a significant challenge.

With strong order activity across all sectors, inflationary pressure is coming from supply shortages. Evidenced through a rise in pre-ordering to offset potential site delays, the impact is being felt through the supply chain, with material supply pressures becoming increasingly acute.

As Covid and its dominance of media headlines recedes, we can already see the impact of Brexit being more widely discussed and climate change moving back centre stage. Recent government announcements on net zero and Biodiversity Net Gain planning policy coming into force, are rightly turning eyes to COP26 in Glasgow in November as a potential watershed moment for our industry.

COP26 is our opportunity to show the global community how our built environment is being re-imagined and re-purposed through our uptake of new technologies and new design approaches, like green urbanisation, which can deliver targeted levels of health, wellbeing, and sustainability.

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