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April 2021

Recovery and renewal: the new normal in asset management practices

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Eddie Davies, Managing Director – Vercity Consultancy.

Over the last year, I’ve been inspired by the professionalism of our team. They have displayed extraordinary commitment, expertise and adaptability during the pandemic. The impact of operating in an extended period of lockdown will have a permanent impact on every area of business. As we look towards a more positive future, I expect to see some dramatic shifts in how we work across projects and how we collaborate and procure.

Communicating wellness

The most important thing to note, is the tragedies that have surrounded the pandemic. Everyone has been affected with an emphasis on looking after ourselves and others.

A focus on health and wellbeing has become a welcome trend in the industry, which looks to have established itself as an essential element of any successful business.

Across projects, the way we communicate and the way we use space will change. For many, being in an office, at least part of the time, with the personal interaction of a team, is vital. Ensuring flexible working is built into company policies will bring out the best in ourselves and our teams.

Necessity is the mother of invention

Initially, the lockdown and the associated restrictions saw some decision making deferred and delays on projects. No-one was sure how long that might last, however most in our sectors now see that that was only a temporary phenomenon. We adapted our business activities and got used to new ways of working. None of us wanted to watch and wait.

The result would seem to indicate that we are busier than ever. Often needing to work hard simply to block out time for reading and writing, thinking and planning.

We all took the initiative and displayed resourcefulness. The industry has adapted to ensure that everything from construction works and, surveys to procurement and negotiations could progress. After all, the primary driving force for all progress is need, and the need for all these progressive activities never diminished.

The industry recovery plan

What the full impact of COVID-19 on the economy may be is still unclear. Different industries and sectors will be impacted in different ways. Whilst construction output generally was very badly hit around the UK, there would seem to be a continued slow recovery from the latest data. In the public sector, it has been encouraging to see the investment locally into capital budgets and the central backing for a significant pipeline of projects, for example as outlined in the “National Infrastructure and Construction Procurement Pipeline 2020/21” identifies some significant numbers. (£37bn) across works, maintenance and consultancy in a range of sectors, including defence, utilities, economic and social infrastructure. Curiously, healthcare appears to be absent.

We hope to see the continued backing for the procurement pipelines announced, which should give procuring authorities confidence to positively progress with these important projects.

Collaboration and partnerships – the key to recovery

The Construction Leadership Council’s “Industry Recovery Plan” (IRP), published on 1 June 2020, ,outlined in Stage 3 the need to build stronger partnerships, and the need to “embed more collaborative and less adversarial partnership working”, which I hope becomes a reality. 

It is essential to embed collaboration into company and project culture moving forward. Many construction companies and professional services organisations of all kinds have had to work hard to survive. A collaborative approach is needed between all parties to realise the ambitious plans who hope to see materialise.

Towards a positive future

I for one, enjoy meeting people face-to-face. We need to sit in the same room as others. We are social creatures after all. From site visits and project meetings, to team building, brainstorming and negotiations, the benefits of face-to-face interaction is evident. It is also difficult to forge new relationships in industry through only virtual means. To meet and interact creates a level of rapport that no degree of video conferencing can achieve. I look forward to coming out of lockdown, meeting people and no longer having to be virtual.

Be healthy and see you soon.

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