Opinion

What do you mean? The meanings behind good intention in 2019

10 January 2019

‘In January there is always a rash of articles explaining how the construction industry will do things differently in 2019. Most of them will be talk without action.’ Sarah Fox

In January there is always a rash of articles explaining how the construction industry will do things differently in 2019. Most of them will be talk without action, so Sarah Fox, content strategist at 500 Words, offers a handy guide to reading between the lines of those promises.

We will collaborate

What this means: We will work as a team, which is a given on any project beyond building a two-panel fence. But we won’t trust you as far as we could throw the O2.

What it could mean: We will work with you from the first twinkle in your eye about a new project to plan, design, refine, construct and complete the project which meets your needs.

We will demonstrate and establish trust within the supply network (we won’t call it a chain). We will be open and honest in site meetings, providing as much information as we can to help everyone manage changes, both the expected and unexpected.

We will not point the finger of blame. We will be realistic with our estimates and not over-promise just to get the job.

We will make sure you know before we incur extra costs, and as soon as possible when the programme slips, so you can make the best decisions for the project. We will create the conditions for the whole industry to thrive.

We will pay fairly

What this means:  We will comply with our statutory obligations on payment reporting knowing that we have enough bargaining power to continue as before. We will comply with the payment terms of our contract but they can be as long and drawn out as we like. We will use any excuse for not paying you in full.

What it could mean: We will pay within 30 days of your correct invoice (and because we are collaborating, we will tell you asap when your invoice is incorrect so we can still pay you promptly). We will not impose retention, as we don’t think it is right to hold a percentage of your money to ransom.

We will take out insurance-backed guarantees where needed. We will pay even when we have not been paid by our employer because we have structured our business not to rely on waterfall payments.

If we intend to withhold money, we will have a genuine reason backed up by independent evidence, and will give you a clear notice explaining this in plenty of time.

We will have a diverse workforce

What this means: We will comply with our statutory obligations on reporting while hoping no one notices. We create policies which are ignored on the ground or at site.

What it could mean: We will use gender neutral language in our contracts. We will use marketing and promotional materials that reflect all parts of society. We will create a workplace culture which embraces diversity and ensures everyone both is and feels included.

We will not marginalise issues of diversity and inclusion and leave it to HR. We recognise that companies that are diverse and inclusive are more successful. We will not have another government report signed only by men.

We will work digitally

What this means: If our clients demand it we will comply with BIM Level 2. We already use email and CAD.

What it could mean: We will start early to encourage all our clients to use BIM as a process (collaboratively). We will ensure our clients understand how to define their information requirements so that the whole supply network can build it into their tender responses.

We will provide clear correct data and agree simple access arrangements that cannot be unilaterally ended. We will create digital contracts and digital twins to ensure a digital construction legacy after completion. We will invest in people and technology as part of a digital construction strategy.

We will have great leaders

What this means: We will leave this to someone else.

What it could mean: We will engage with government initiatives at strategic level. We will review how those initiatives will affect our business and our supply network.

We will ensure young people coming into the industry are encouraged to lead projects, and collaborate within and across businesses. We will tell stories of our successes rather than focus on the failures to inspire those within and outside the industry.

We will embrace change before we slide under a steamroller which is not under our control.