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The massive shift from working in offices to working in homes has been happening for some time as technology has advanced, and the pattern was significantly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Generally, this force – sometimes called remote work or hybrid work – is shifting work patterns for people with “desk jobs.”

What’s surprising is that this trend has deeply affected the real-world industry of construction too, as digital tools emerge in a new era of offsite collaboration.

Before COVID-19, remote work was very rare in construction. But this new way of working quickly proved to be essential when the pandemic forced construction professionals to adapt their processes.

Newer technologies can digitize the site and bring it to anyone, no matter where they are physically located. Hybrid work, enabled by technology will empower construction companies to bring the job site to stakeholders who aren’t physically present, even as the pandemic recedes.

One of the benefits of hybrid construction is that it provides project teams transparency into site status and streamlines communications (since people who aren’t physically present can stay up to date visually and be empowered to make decisions).

What does this look like in practice? Visual imaging tools can serve as a single source of truth for site status, while cloud-based project management software can enable asynchronous and synchronous collaboration. Over the past couple of years, the rapid adoption of technology solutions and the ability to access this single, central place with all key information ensured stakeholders could successfully work remotely. For example, workers onsite have the ability to store 360-degree site photos and other project information in a single location, reducing the need to travel. Project managers can easily review the status of key project elements to see whether they are done correctly, reducing the need for expensive and time-consuming onsite visits. These efficiencies, driven by digital collaboration tools powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, power the analytics that allows companies to obtain a holistic view of their projects and extract critical data from them.

This digital collaboration also has implications for more fruitful talent acquisition, as expanding hiring beyond the geographic area of the construction site attracts a more talented and versatile workforce. Traditionally, the construction industry has been limited to a local talent market since crew members only had one option for collaboration: onsite. By shifting to hybrid construction, companies have tremendous potential to attract and retain new talent and new ideas. Remote work also helps companies put their best workers on more jobs since they save time on travel and can weigh in on decisions without being physically present.

Although hybrid work was uncommon in construction just a few years ago, the rapid and successful adoption of technology has paved the way for a new way of working. Construction firms are coming to appreciate and rely on the ease of use offered by these new technology solutions, which means they will continue to be in high demand for the foreseeable future.