The coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on every industry, but for construction and real estate it could be looked back on as a watershed moment. The industry has felt the impact hard but if embraced, the changes the pandemic has brought could lead to a brighter future.
In the short term, there is no doubt that times are challenging. As almost all activity on construction sites came to a halt when lockdown began, the repercussions were felt right through the supply chain. Even as sites slowly begin to re-open, new working arrangements and social distancing rules mean productivity is likely to be quashed.
While the changes to how construction sites operate as well as an economic downturn have had a heavy impact, there has been positive change throughout the industry. Some have even heralded this as a new start. The introduction of elements such as offsite and modular construction as well as the idea of incorporating robots and machine work are all options being considered for a post-lockdown world that will help to modernise the industry.
While investors may be worried about the impacts on construction efficiency and real estate value, if implemented and embraced correctly, the changes ahead for the industry are likely to mean it will thrive post-coronavirus.
One of the most important steps that the industry will need to take is protecting recruitment. Graduate and apprenticeship schemes are often some of the first things to go when cutbacks need to be made. Continuing to invest in staff and future talent will be crucial though if the industry is to fully recover.
Demand to convert office space that is no longer needed as employers re-think how their businesses operate and how their staff work will be a key area of demand for investors and construction companies alike as the working world continues to evolve as the lockdown eases.
Sustainable projects will offer potential investors a large scope to explore as companies worldwide look to find sustainable solutions. With global lockdowns dramatically reducing pollution levels and the UK government committing to investing in infrastructure to help get to zero carbon emissions by 2050, the construction industry will be looking for investors who are willing to commit to long-term, large-scale sustainable projects.
The coronavirus crisis has highlighted the need for sustainable and adaptable infrastructure that can be called upon in a time of crisis. Investing in these sorts of projects will be a key focus for many investors as they look to see where their investments will be best placed in the years ahead.