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Building Homes from Home: Can Construction Work Be Done Remotely?

Remote Construction

Digitization continues to touch and disrupt all sectors in ways that weren’t thought to be possible. As a result, in the past decade, telecommuting firmly established itself as the new professional norm. However, can sectors that haven’t been traditionally telecommuting-friendly welcome these shifts?

Remote work had its beginnings in the tech world, but it’s no longer a privilege only enjoyed by the wunderkinder coding staff of technology companies. In the past decade, thanks to the rising connectivity and shifts in office cultures, remote work rose by 400 percent. Construction, literally a brick-and-mortar business relying on in-person interactions, hasn’t been quick to respond to these changes.

Nevertheless, any sector that can be disrupted by digitization has ample room optimizing its processes, thus, going remote. Hence, thanks to a manifold of new technologies, “remote construction” is no longer an oxymoron. While there are apparent phases of construction that would need to be done on-site, increasing digitization allows much of the work to be done remotely.

Automation Technologies Enable Remote Construction

Construction remains one of the least digitized industries, which means most projects are much more expensive and time-consuming than they could be. However, in the last several years, many industry executives have been embracing construction technologies and digitization.

By now, construction technology, often abbreviated as ConTech, is a burgeoning industry by its own right. Particularly advancements in big data, 3D printing, AI, and automation technologies like drones and robotics, saw mainstream adaptations by construction companies. These technologies enable remote construction by bringing new ways for planners and laborers to do less on-site and more on-line.

Furthermore, due to the nature of the work, construction companies rely on person-to-person interactions. However, wide acculturation to powerful collaboration tools like BIM can also minimize the time needed to be on-site. As BIM technologies are evolving, software developers are adding new features to empower remote collaborations.

Is Remote Construction the Future?

While digital technologies are unlikely to replace human labor in construction sites entirely, many experts anticipate that remote construction will add fundamental value to the industry.

According to Jeevan Kalanithi, CEO of OpenSpace – a smart analytics tool – remote construction is already challenging the norms of an industry that’s notoriously slow to embrace technological changes.

Speaking to the technology website ZDNet, Kalanthini described the impact of remote construction as “[s]imilar to how telehealth will improve accessibility by bringing the doctor to the patient.”

However, even though construction hasn’t always been digitally progressive, Kalanthini already observed positive changes in the field, which he feels will continue.

[W]e believe that ‘tele-building’ will soon take off to scale the expertise of our superintendents, project managers, inspectors, and foremen. If your captures of the site are high-quality, you can reduce the amount of in-person visits needed, saving time and money, as well as improving knowledge transfer.

Jeevan Kalanithi, CEO of OpenSpace

Companies Must Adapt to Digital Construction

There’s no doubt that the rising appetite for digitization will benefit the construction industry in immeasurable ways.

In the upcoming years, future-forward companies will likely continue to look for novel ways to boost their remote construction operations. Hence, from developers to distributors, all construction employees must adapt to technologies such as BIM, 3D printing, robots, drones, and sensors on construction sites.

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