Business Bites Construction Recording 150520
Hello. And welcome, to business bytes the, University, of Birmingham, in Dubai's latest, initiative, to support businesses during, the current kovat 19, pandemic. Over. The coming months we will be delivering a series of short, bite-sized, webinars, whether, we invite expert, business leaders and academics from the University, of Birmingham to. Discuss the current ranges that businesses, in different industry sectors are, facing. During these unprecedented, times, and the, economic, impact that it brings we'll. Also be discussing the, lessons learned. The. Series will cover many industry, sectors, over the coming months including. Business, education. Construction. Which we're covering today. Engineering. Law, sustainability. Health and well-being with many more to come. I'm. Lynn st. I'm the business development manager here, at the University of Birmingham dubai, campus, where. I engage, with businesses, and individuals, to provide professional, development and, learning programs, for, organizations. And working professionals. In. Today's discussion we are exploring, the impact, that the current pandemic is having on the construction, industry and. In. The spotlight today we have two special guest. Speakers, joining us and I'm. Delighted, to welcome our, first guest Ian. Warned from quantum, Global Solutions here in Dubai, when, ian is also the chairman of the Chartered Institute of, building, MENA, region and, the Dubai hub. Welcome. Ian. O'Neill. In thank you very much for the invite. I'm. Also equally, delighted to, welcome Professor. Ian Jefferson, who, is the professor of geotechnical, engineering. And the interim, deputy head of College engineering. And physical, sciences at. The University. Of Birmingham and he's based in the UK and, we have two Ian's today. Thank. You Lyn so. Let's get started, so if we begin with you, Ian mond first. Question during.
The Current co vid 19. Restrictions, what, are the main issues or concerns for the construction, industry that. You can share with today. Hi-yah. The. Construction. Industry in the, Middle East generally has been designated as, an essential, industry, and largely hasn't, stopped. Its. Its activities. Throughout. The pandemic. To. Date. There. Are a few exceptions and we, had some suspensions. And some. Terminations. Of product but, probably. Third of why there are issues of liquidity. Overall, economic. Validity. Of certain. Projects, but generally constructions, has, continued. Typical. Issues that we've, experienced. Here it's, obviously the closure of borders international, borders which. Has resulted in. Work. Force or management, being. Out of country, locked out of country. Being, prevented from working at all. Isolation. And Quarantine. Issues. Transport. Restrictions, limited. Numbers. In in buses for. Labor, and labor camps, and transport. To front side. Of. Course. There's been some. Cross-border. Restrictions. Also between Emirates so contractors. With labor in one emirate. With. A product, in another image Emirates, hasn't had a problem getting labor. From. One version. To the other, in. Some instances it's been prevented. From doing so. That's. Led to, efficiency. And disruption, issues labor. Shortages, in some instances. And. On. More. On the dispute side we've. Had your. Delay. Into formal. Disputes of proceeding, all, these that, the main centers. Of all. Continued, working albeit, remotely on in electronic, format. Great. Thank. You and Jefferson would you like to add something from the UK perspective. Yeah. I mean, obviously the, elements. Echo. In the UK I mean, see. The uncertainty. That this has set certain. Sectors, of the construction industry in UK were, already struggling. And. A number, of companies work we're finding quite tough leading into the kovat situation. So this, is obviously quite extra pressure the, uncertainty, we face in UK cause clearly we were behind. The UAE in terms of the, process of lock down etc when.
That's Going to be lifted although just, this week the Prime Minister announced, that the construction, work could, be reopened, however. How, we deal with that in a safe. Working way where we practice social, distancing, on-site is going, to be a change not. Only on terms of the operation of the site and how people, responsibilities. There but obviously, getting people to and fro so, the. Whole, issue. Of public transport, for, some people with. The government particularly stressing, that we should not, use public, transport unless absolutely necessary. And how we do without that issue of getting logistically. Getting people to the site and managing that is going to be a huge challenge which, could be faced for, certainly for several weeks and maybe months to come. So. You've described, some of the dim current disruption, caused by the. Pandemic. In both countries what, do you anticipate that this will do to businesses, in the sector longer, term. Ian. Lord. In. The. In. The long term. You. Know it's it really really. Depends on on the the, treatment of the. LMC. Have. Returned to normality, until. There's. A vaccine or or or, or, semi-permanent. Georgia to, the said the issue so. We. Are going to have to adjust to different. Ways of working, in a, new. Normal if you like and I. Think. We have, found that we. Were able to work remotely, work, from, home work. Via, virtual, systems, it is through thoughtful meetings and. You. Know webinars. And, seminars. And. Marketing, are being done in a different way, more. Electronically. Than, driving. Point-to-point, and face-to-face, meetings. That previously. Would, have done and. I think we found efficiencies, in in. Doing in those ways of alternative. Ways of working so. I think there. Will be lasting, benefits. From a. Training. Mindset, to. What. Was available to us before and now. We're. Using more than as a normal. And. I think I, think people will, question whether they do, need to travel to do, certain types of business. In. Jefferson yeah. I, would echo that I think I think whilst, it's, tragic. And, we must be mindful of what's. Happened to get to this situation not. Forget that I think, there are opportunities, that this is this presented. And. I think absolutely. My. Colleague is correct. Working. From home and, using, digital. Systems. Has, opened up a whole range of opportunities which, we were talking about and we were starting. To think about as part as part, the digital revolution of this industry, 4.0, and. Actually that's brought the whole and. Really. I'd say actually, encouraged, if we could put it like that people. To engage with those those opportunities, and ask, the fundamental questions, that of, what we did previously was, it the way we should be doing business and is there a better way of doing things, driven. By cost and and driven by the opportunities, for innovation and, other other things that come out of that so, I think whilst. There are obviously, difficulties. And challenges I think there also a number of positive opportunities, that we could embrace and should embrace and. The industry is embracing. Right. Lovely and, so. We're, all learning about zoom and webinars and, perhaps, a look into the future and not flying as often and traveling as far do, you think any of these current. Challenges, could be addressed or solved through training, or skilling, of staff and, if somehow. Yes. For sure. As. Mentioned, we've year we've we've adopted. Various. New. Formats. In particular. Probably just, zoom what we're working with other companies on teams, and Skype for business and. The. Forums, and format. And. That certainly, has taken, some. Adapting. To in terms of mindset, but also the technical aspects of. Your. Learning, to use, these systems to to. The forum and I've led. The way in my organization, on on zoom webinar. And. We've. Done six in the past four. Weeks and. Each time you do what you pick up it's, a very powerful tool you pick up a. Different. Aspect. Of. The. Facility, and how you can utilize it better and, only this week since. Our last discussion I've been working on the the follow of the emails, to. The recipients, to the attendees, and. Also to non attendees, and. Distribution, of the slides and the an. Email to all and, the. The. Recorded, webinar which is which, is fantastically. Powerful tools. So. That's been. Something we've been working, on. This. Week's. Marketing. Has. Also. Gone. Down that line more. Virtual. Team, or distribution of of. Useful. Documents, to our, clients, and. Guidance, used. To be briefing paper for. You. Know for contractor remedies for Co, mid-nineteen and. Contractual. Solutions. To, force. Measure arguments, and change. It all change in local legislation. And. I think that's I think. There's also being a freeing of information. There, driven. By the need to marketing, and a, limited availability, works on some work slow down. So. Perhaps, that's increased competition, but, yeah, we've we found, ourselves sharing, more information freely.
And Widely. Never. Before. We. Hold weekly. Team, meetings. Multi. Within various. Regions around the business and. That's you. Know not work based it's it's just to get together just to talk. About what's going on yeah. Is there any time photonic in the supermarkets. And, being, sold. Is. Possibly. And. To. Get motivated to, get up in the morning at the same time and. Thanks. To take some exercise take, a shower put your work clothes on and, work. To an agenda just the same as you would in the office and that takes some discipline. Disciplined. And. Required. Some learning. Required, against. An e-learning in, the first instance. Over. The. First few weeks working from home and. Then. Get yourself into a routine and get. Back to productivity. So. Several points. February. Excellent points is actually, on your webinars, and zoo we, can actually reach a wider audience but. However many, people we know are feeling, quite isolated. Because they've never worked from home before. So. A bit of a balance in both areas there yeah joe yeah. I mean, i again i would echo that i think i think it's it's it's in. A ways forced people to, think. About how they interact digitally. And the, skill sets this need and and are. Taking exact example, i have a colleague that i would call him a technophobe. And. Has been very resistant, to actually, upskilling. In this area but this very situation has, kind of forced his hand and, actually. Once he's been through that barrier of resistance. Has actually found it big and extremely useful and. I think that process has been been very valuable and people as they get used to it actually see that it's how, they can use it now actually, fulfill um utilized. These tools to a much deeper extent, that, of course will further training and I, think it's also important, that the tools that we're using will be getting feedback from these processes, and that will enable them to improve what the tools can offer at, an accelerated, pace which are then will feed into training so so, I think this, is actually as. Pushed, the agenda, of training which we will obviously people were engaged with and there, are a whole raft of things and in, the UK for, instance the institutions, of Engineers have, now adopted this and there's a whole series of webinars and other things that people can do because. They can build that in and now they're more familiar with the tools that we use to present these things they're, actually available. Options. Which they may have otherwise had difficulty, either through the time commitment and the lack of flexibility, or the cost so. It. Has provided. Unforeseen. Opportunity. Which. People I see as starting to see traffic and starting to embrace, in terms of upskilling yeah. So lots of personal change going on I know some, subconscious, barriers. That we perhaps didn't realize were there in the first place, great stuff so we've discussed about ways, of connecting. Virtually. And digitally, across. The, construction. Industry. Obviously. In certain. Areas where there's more practical, skill hands-on, needed, how, do you think we, may be able to rethink, certain, practices, in that perspective. Based. On the restrictions, of kovat 19 and the recovery afterwards. Construction. Changes. In, the, way we have. Operated. Over the past few weeks as. Far as construction, itself, goes. There. They, have been, changing. Requirements. Social. Distancing, on-site. Temperature. Checks as as, we as we go through. In. The site you know no leaving site monitoring. So. There are certain precautions. That have been put in place. A. Popular. Question on. Forums. Has been. What's. Our obligation, to mitigate, and. I. Think. You, know my best example is you, you, you, have a obligation. To, put, distance between labor, on on-site, and perhaps, if you're, building a, tower. Here. In Dubai you. May, well be working on four floors at any one time with different trades, working. Progressively, up, the tower now a. Practical. Thing that a contractor, could do that a significant. Expenditure, in in cost is, the change ways, of working I instead, of working over four floors you know working over eight floors though, you're using usually, the same level, of labor but. More. Spread, because, of the requirement, for social distancing, and and, that could be deemed, an appropriate. Change. In methodology, and. Certainly. Past contract, obligation. To mitigate under the contract, the. Effects of the, pandemic. And. I think as. From. Out from our disputes, and form. Of dispute and arbitration. Operations. I think. These, areas potentially. I think the greatest areas, for change and development. The. Arbitration. Centers here and the. Abu Dhabi and divide courts have, all. Reverted.
To Electronic. Forms, electronic, platforms. Hearings. In. Videoconference, or. Conference. Forums. As. Their arbitration. Tribunals. Arbitration, hearings. Have continued, there's. Been a move moved to. Submission. Of electronic, bundles, in on. The electronic platforms provided, and. To. Continue. And. Proceed. Now. The. Dispute. Process can, be very. Costly. Can be great. Yeah. Can be slow at times, and. I think if, your. Parties. Are working remotely. And working through an electronic platforms, with, with good selection, of you. Know continued selection, and organization, of the information, I. Think formal. Disputes could greatly. Benefit, from the. Efficiencies, of, virtual. Hearings. And virtual. Working electronic platforms, may. Be something, when. This all started yeah. In Jefferson, yeah. I mean I think. My. Colleagues picked up on the the aspects of how people interact and actually. It's, interesting that you, questions. Were raised about personal. Responsibility. In. This crisis and I think people have been more acute of their personal role particularly. I mean from, a personal Road personal maybe even selfish perspective about you protecting yourself but, that makes it the, way you operate in a more safe environment. It's. Become more and more important people and actually people see the benefit of this whereas they may have been resistant, and, we all know some of the challenges we faced in this direction I think, it's interesting about the the way we deal, with things and obviously using electronic resources to transfer, data I think, there's there's a issue, about how we manage that and, how that's managed in secure way I think, people in the past may have been slightly, more blase, than, in. Some certain certain sectors I think. There's given, that we've had to operate this and the pressure we put on on. That people. Have to be much more acute to the risks, and. Maybe. How we deal with data and manage data becomes. Come something that we we are much more acutely aware and actually managing more more secure, more sort, of constructive. Way and obviously infrastructure, that supports that so, again. It's. Tested, our systems fairly. Robustly, and. And, we've we've, actually done a lot of learning which which, is accelerate the pace of that so whilst. It's been a change, I think a lot can come that beneficial can come out of this that pushes. Along the journey that we needed to go anyway yes. And again some more training, requirements, along the way yeah absolutely. We've talked about am construction, on a more general terms, but well let's go down into a more of an organizational. Focus, how. Do you think the pandemic, has refocused your, organization's. Longer-term business, strategy, ear monde. Strategy. Can be very traditional at times, and. A. Lot of our clients have. Do. Require our services to be carried out with the teams on sides and that has benefits. Has. Certain disadvantages. And. In Italy, with regard to staff. Availability, or allocation. Of the most appropriate resource and, we have, around. 100. Consultants. In in, 12 regional. Offices around the world and the. Best consultant, for the task isn't necessarily, in the, same region, that. Were operating. Traditionally. We've. If. Required flown a consult, from one error into the into another region, to. Carry. Out a task to. Be there based on site. You. Know clearly. Now has not been, available. To us in in the past eight, to ten weeks, I, think. We. Are finding, that working. Remotely. As teams, is. Is. Achievable, is doable and. That. Then, gives us a facility, to say okay this. Person. Here is better for this role that particular role and can this assignment so we're gonna use someone from Qatar. Or someone from Jordan, office or someone from the Malaysian office, instead. Of simply using the. Available resources. On ground. Here and. I. Think, there's a permanent. Change in mindset in in the fact that we can do. Work, I think we could do work better, using. The best resource for the top particular tasks and that, is necessarily. That, the local resource, that's. In the office here in Dubai. It's. Been using the best results from. Multiple. Regions, I. Think. That's probably the biggest you. Know the biggest biggest, change in mindset mindset. Person and from, the. From. From the CIO V, standpoint. I've. Been I've been involved in the committee's for many. Years now and. You. Get involved, in your own home and. Obviously. As chair you need meetings. The. Regional chance time it. Should be involved in all of the regional meetings as well as running the device hub itself. And. And, that has been absolutely, fantastic for us because we've clearly.
All Switched name to electronic, format and an electronic meeting and, so. Now I'm, at. Eclis engaged in all, of the meetings of all of the hubs around, the whole region very. Much more. Into. Interactive. With with with with the hub chairs working. Better with the hub share sharing ideas more, openly our. Webinars, are no longer, CPD. Events which are given to the. Members, in a particular. Region but, they are you, know informative. Events. That now, are. Reaching, 12. 14, countries on, a particular, event on each. Evening and then. Qatar's delivering, event and UAE's delivering, an event in Sandy's delivering, event so, that's three. Events in the month which are now reaching the whole region and winder, so so that really has been a massive change for us as. Co-chief, and it sounds from what you're saying about the individual. Skill sets being. Much more obvious, and you being able to match them to the, project. Or the job that needs doing. Yeah. Good stuff what, about let's move on to the, issue of sustainability, because we've talked about I'm not having to travel physically, when, using digital platforms. For learning and meetings, what, about the wider, issue of sustainability, in, the sector, in Jefferson. Yeah. I think as. You've just said I mean the. Short term benefit, has been the way that we just stopped traveling, but, both, within within the, context, of the construction, industry more generally, and. I minded, to the comment that, said. Kovat has done more for climate, change than, greater, than the rest of the climate changes in the short term however, that is short-term and. We're seeing as countries, release their lockdown, particularly. As we go into the situation where we. Have to manage. People's. Fears of using. Transport. Etc we're, actually gonna rebound, that very quickly and you've always seen the evidence of that in countries like China where, they're moving back to this and people are going back to the cars even more so than they probably would have done beforehand, and that's a search situation, we're seeing in the UK. And. There's been pictures, already of the people moving. On, public, transport and that setting fear and obviously, go back to the car for, safety reasons I think. It does I mean I think in terms of construction obviously, its. Materials. And the transportation, materials, are, really, the big things that to, a degree is limited, however it is people, are asking questions of, our. Wheat about. What we've done traditionally, and we're seeing evidence of that in. UK. Driven. By other agendas, as well but this has helped focus the mind, partly. Through digital so, travel. As. My. Colleague has referred to in, terms of meetings and operation. Of meetings yes. Also. The, types of materials, were using and and it's people, have had the opportunity, to either. Reflect. On what they're doing or look at new ways to innovate, and. We're seeing a we've. Actually journalist period for projects I've been running here in the UK we've seen quite a lot of interest. Actually strong. Interest, in innovation, in this area so, looking at waste streams, that could be converted to potential, new materials. And. How that could help and that obviously helps the low carbon gender eat. Through the process, so how much water we using in the, construction, sector or how much how, much energy we use in the construction sector both during the construction phase and obviously, in the post construction phase use the use of the various infrastructure. Products, we're, developing. Leading. Onto smart, infrastructure, and use of digital technologies, to manager, the stretcher base in, a more sort of, efficient. Way and through that game sustainability. Gains so. We're building those things in I think people are more open to that than they probably were beforehand. Kick-started. By the the situation, that they faced and having time to reflect because one, thing I've certainly known in my own working patterns, until recently, initially. There was a period and people were getting a grip with things but, people have had time to reflect on on stuff that maybe. They wouldn't have had for various other reasons and. That's opened up opportunities, and they're stimulating, innovation. It's actually quite exciting, time in that sense so. And, of course there's a whole raft of things that come from that, that. Will do and and, issues of resilience, and how we make, our systems more resilient, in terms of operations, etc so. I think I think it's been a really really interesting, journey, to see how we've, transferred, through and I think the opportunities. Are huge. And I think people are signed, to realize and I think it's really exciting time going forward potentially. Quite. An impact on a traditional, industry it. Under, view and observed.
Anything Similar in the UAE. Yeah. It's. The. Adoption of. Change. In in, in, making. Things work making things happen, yeah. I, think. There's. Been a. Time. Taking, there things have changed so rapidly here, it's. You. Know one of my concerns. On. The bigger picture areas, back, to what Ian. Mentioned that right at the very start of the of the session, it's. Been tough. For, contractors. Here for at, least five years the, oil prices dropped in October. 2014, and that. Has put pressure, on. Liquidity. Issues on in the economy. From. Contractors. And subcontractors near. The market has got tight margins, have been, squeezed, and. In fact the new work coming through is as not quite being as as. As. Much as we. Would, have liked, or thought I. Think. The longer. Term lessons, for for. Us in construction. Across. The world were kinds. Of the, way we work. Together you. Know, whether. You. Know, contractors. And subcontractors actually. Survive. And continue. To. Trade, and. Remain, solvent. Through. Through eyes particularly. Difficult, times. You. Know working together and negotiation. Of reasonable. Outcomes, will. Be. Really. Part. Of the legacy of construction. And and. How we come out of the, whole situation together. Or, not. Clients. In in Yui and in the UK you, are looking, at, the. Financial. Side of. Construction. And business, looking. At the, payments. Seeking. And the resolution, of disputes, instead. Of you. Know allowing, this puja to drag. Or. Exacerbate. It and. Resolve. Issues more. Prominent, and more collaboratively, and I think. From. From from, with. Here and the, working groups that I'm engaged with in the UK I think you. Know there. Are. Example. Are trying to really are working, to. Work. To. Overcome these problems and. Recognize, the challenges that supply chain of facing at, this moment and then never other parts of the industry that simply. Take hard those view. Your. We're, gonna have a tough. Time getting. Through, if we all you. Know fuel took that approach yes. Yeah, yeah. Thank, you so, moving on finally. There and what. Would you say over. The past. Few very accelerated, months, are the main learnings, from pandemic, for the construction, industry. Over. The coming over. The coming months and. We. Look after the. Supply, chain. Will. Be will, be key. And and. I think that will be part of the legacy of of what, what. We are seen as, an, industry coming out of. The. Back end of this. New. Pandemic. I think. The, reduction. In paper more. Electronic. Business. I. Think, is. Here. To stay I think that's I think we've we've overcome. A, mindset. Perhaps a hurdle, of, traditionalism. But. I. Think. We'll. Continue to, in. A different way through. These are electronic. Forums, and. I think they will bring certain deficiencies and, the. Reduction in travel I think I think that has, potential. Sustainability. Benefits. Jefferson. Would you like to add to that yeah. I think, absolutely I, think I think it's, allowed us to is. Forced, us to change, the way we operate from, the old norm, and. It's given this the opportunity, of forced. Upon us using. The old adage that necessity. Is the mother of all invention, we're. In that situation, and so so as. Ian has said we. Have had. To operate in a more digital way we've had to operate with no less, less. Transportation. And option used to travel so it's forced us to go down electric as. We've gone past that hurdle often people cultures. Need to change inward, practice, by, seeing how things done you always get people that already embrace it there's always going to be a reticence and the core people that will find reasons. Why not to do things but. Of course now that we enforce that they can see how it works and how we can actually benefit, from this it, there are challenges and. How we operate. In this world where, we are social animals and how we interact with it is going to be something we're gonna have to adapt to and learn how to contact.
But We're going through this process and we're having those those lessons, learned I think, there's a broad range of. Understanding. The true potential of the digital, innovation. Industrial, revolution I think, we're on that journey I think we've been accelerated, I think there's still things. To learn but they, are being exposed and then we've been forced to learn those and that has has driven driven, a lot of things as there's. A lot that we can take forward and a lot of opportunities, that wouldn't. Have necessary happened and we're taking a lot longer to embed we, shall now be forced upon us and I think we're seeing those people have been embraced and I think it you. Know whilst it's very tragic I think there, are some exciting possibilities, once we get past these difficult, times that's, going to take a while but. I think actually it's, opened, up doors that we wouldn't a necessarily seen. We're. Opened and it's allowed us to work in a more collegiate, and, look at the practices, and processes that we use so, I think yes I think I mean challenging, but I think I'm very optimistic about, the longer-term future. Great. Thank you so you some challenging, and exciting times, ahead well, if it's, roses okay, so thank you both for your, participation, in today's business, by its discussion, and, also providing. Some really valuable insights, into the current issues in the construction, industry and, we hope to see you again thank you both thank you.