COVID-19: Controlling What We Can

In dealing with COVID-19 and the associated economic impacts, first and foremost, it is critical to take measures to mitigate the spread of this infectious virus to construction workers that are continuing to provide services within the essential market sectors. Although this specific workplace hazard is new, as with all workplace hazards, it must be recognized and mitigation measures put in place.

Learn about COVID-19 hazards & controls in this free resource.

Strategy to Overcome COVID-19

How are you reacting to COVID-19 and the economic downturn? Do you have a strategy or are you hoping for the best? A wise man once said, “Hope is not a strategy” and let’s be cautious of “I am from the government and am here to help."

The companies that are “Built to Last” have strategies and business plans in place to not only survive during slow times, but retool and improve, thus being better positioned when work picks up. They will hire and develop the people you layoff during this downturn. We are not victims, we are volunteers. We knowingly entered one of the most difficult industries.

Unfortunately, when life is good we hear things like, “We can’t afford to take our people off the jobs for training. Things are just too crazy right now!” or, “Your system will really help us without a doubt, but we don’t have the time or the people to implement something new.”

On the flip side, when work is slow, companies are so consumed with layoffs, budget cuts, and damage control that long-term strategy, process improvements, and employee development is not prioritized. 

Of course, COVID-19 and its short and long-term impact to our industry and its people is very hard to predict. What we do know is that before this pandemic started, 1 in 5 of the US workplace fatalities occurred within the construction industry[1], construction productivity had flatlined over the last 70 years[2], and although implementing the right technology can improve efficiency and overall effectiveness, construction firms continue to be laggards in adopting such technologies[3].

In these difficult times, when effective measures have been put in place to protect the health and welfare of your employees, you should make an effort to step back and evaluate your approach and business plan. This checklist should include revisiting your values, strategy, processes, technology, structure, and people.


  • Have you developed your core values?
  • Do they define your unique culture?
  • Is everyone made aware of your values?
  • What are the stories behind them?
  • If protecting the health and welfare of your employees is a value, how are you living up to this?
  • Are new hires introduced to your unique culture/values during onboarding?
  • Are behaviors that align with your values incorporated into your employee evaluation process?


  • Have you done a SWOT analysis?
  • How do you capitalize on your strengths and opportunities? How do you address weakness and threats?
  • What will you do differently when the next pandemic hits?
  • Are there opportunities to diversify in different markets, geography, disciplines, etc.?
  • Have you done the research needed to assess these diverse opportunities?
  • Do you have a comprehensive risk mitigation plan that goes beyond required insurance?
  • What are your Key Performance Indicators, and do you have the data collection means and methods to measure against these KPIs?
  • Do you have an effective communication plan in place? Note: This is an opportunity to demonstrate leadership during this crisis.


  • Have you identified your key business processes?
  • Do you have documented standard operating procedures and/or policies in place for your key business activities?
  • Do you have the leadership in place and a well-designed plan to continually improve your processes with a focus on waste elimination?
  • Is continuous improvement embedded within your culture?
  • Do you have safety, quality, productivity, and schedule reliability measures in place that are timely and accurate?
  • Do you trust these measures to implement the 80/20 rule? That is, 80% of the opportunity to improve efficiency and effectiveness lies within 20% of the processes.


  • Have you done a comprehensive assessment of your current system architecture?
  • Do you have the leadership and directives in place to research and evaluate current and emerging project and administrative technologies?
  • Are you at a competitive disadvantage due to not adopting more efficient technology?
  • If the decision is made to implement new technology, have you made the commitment to assign the right leadership that will use best practices to ensure optimization?


  • Is it time to reassess how your organization is structured?
  • Does your current structure facilitate innovation and process improvement or are you trapped in functional silos?
  • Do you have the right managers in the right positions? Remember, people typically quit bosses not companies.
  • What will your organizational chart look like in five years as you continue to grow and diversify? Are you developing or recruiting people now to fill those future spots?


  • Do you have a succession plan in place with intentional and purposeful guidelines to develop people at every level of your organization?
  • What are you doing to develop your most important asset: frontline field supervisors?
  • What are you doing about the shortage of skilled workers?
  • Do you have well-defined career paths? Do the young new hires, regardless of department, understand their path to senior management?
  • How do you feel about your employee evaluation process? Are there measurable performance expectations that are clearly defined?

Regardless of the size of your company, having a strategy, business plan and KPIs, with the foundation being your core values is crucial. Thinking, brainstorming, strategizing, planning and scheduling is hard work, requires strong leaders, and takes time, but really doesn’t cost that much. Not doing it may cost you your business.


COVID-19 Hazards and Controls


TRESTLES CONSTRUCTION SOLUTIONS offers consulting, construction management services, frontline supervisor training and a mobile field construction application all of which are designed to enable a step change in construction safety, quality, productivity, and schedule reliability performance.



[3] Gartner 2014