Expert Commentary

Improve Operational Efficiency with Mobile Solutions + Communication

Fluid workforces, such as construction teams, often face daily work stoppages. Last-minute changes to parking, an unexpected shortage of supplies, or delayed shipments seem like normal, insignificant distractions, but when this lost time is added up, it could cost a jobsite up to 50 percent of its productive time each day.


Communication/Technology
August 2021

Many of these distractions are easily avoidable, and eliminating just one could save 5 minutes every day for each employee. This can increase profit margins by up to 6 percent.

Streamlining communication can improve the frontline experience and the organization's bottom line by eliminating distractions, which ultimately increases productivity and maximizes resources. Seemingly small diversions take an employee's attention away from the task at hand, reducing the valuable time spent on the job and increasing the opportunity for error or risky scenarios. It is critical for teams to utilize transparent and frequent two-way communication to prevent and mitigate possible interruptions, and mobile devices are the ideal tool to achieve this goal.

Frontline teams are likely accustomed to using mobile devices in their daily lives. Tapping into this accessible device can be a cost-saving and beneficial tool for organizations. A digital platform allows upper management to quickly and clearly communicate emergency alerts and shipment delays and provide in-the-moment safety training and jobsite-specific updates. By providing these alerts to workers' fingertips, a disruption in work is eliminated (i.e., the need for employees to stop the task they're working on, move to a central location where they can hear verbal updates, and then return to the task, potentially misremembering where they left off and taking valuable time out of their busy day).

Clear communication through mobile platforms can unite fluid workforces and simplify their day-to-day activities, maximizing performance quality and organization-wide efficiency. Below are examples and best practices of how teams can increase productivity, reduce conditions that lead to errors, and improve operational efficiency, all through mobile device communication.

Increasing Productivity

Improving communication with trade-level employees is the very first step toward a more productive and more efficient work environment. There are many moving parts on a jobsite, and conditions and projects change day after day, so it's critical to equip your entire workforce with the knowledge, skills, and information that will empower them to avoid workplace hazards and do great work.

With a mobile communications platform, managers and safety teams are able to share information with their team quickly, engaging the entire workforce at once without calling for a physical meeting. With this process, all employees will have the necessary information in their pocket that they can reference as many times as they need. Compare this to the traditional communication practice of leaving the task at hand, moving to a huddle to hear updates, and possibly walking away without fully understanding the instructions. Mobile communication is one way to significantly increase efficiencies and improve the culture of your jobsite team as it allows workers to access the important information that they need to do their job safely and to their highest quality.

Furthermore, teams can use mobile devices to send in-the-moment training videos or step-by-step guides to teams taking on riskier tasks. This not only simplifies the training information but also creates consistency and ensures everyone on the job receives the same direction and guidance. In one example, training on mobile devices in the field saved Pankow Builders 641 hours, more than $12,000 of training time, on a single construction jobsite.

Avoiding Conditions That Lead to Errors

Not only will streamlined communication increase productivity throughout the workplace and accelerate the pace of work, but it will also create a project environment that has a significantly reduced amount of miscommunication, which will, in turn, decrease operational errors or the need to redo work. With chat features and message boards, a mobile communication platform makes it easier than ever to establish a safe and strategic communication network throughout the jobsite and team, helping employees mitigate errors before they happen and address problems more quickly.

Additionally, the incoming workforce is especially prioritizing workplace cultures that are aligned with their values, and having videos readily available that demonstrate management's expectations on performance quality will have the craft-level team eager to support that culture of quality. By having a quick, efficient, and clear line of communication, important issues can quickly be identified and resolved.

Technology plays a substantial role in achieving high-quality performance excellence and is second nature for members of Generation Z that are entering the jobsite. Gen Z'ers are digital natives: they have grown up in a world where the Internet and mobile devices have almost always been at their fingertips, and they are quick to learn and adopt new technology. Mobile applications are an essential part of a Gen Z'ers day-to-day life. From ordering lunch to catching a ride, technology is embedded in their daily habits, making it no surprise that they're inclined to gravitate toward this same convenience in their career to do their job to the best of their ability and be successful.

Employees with fluid workforces can better communicate with this important group and keep everyone on the jobsite on the same page. Research shows the following.

  • 75 percent of Gen Z'ers rate their mobile device as their primary device of choice.
  • 25 percent spend more than 5 hours on their mobile phones every day.
  • 73 percent cited texting and chatting as their primary mobile phone activities.

Mobile communication is a mainstream practice in today's workforce, and implementing it into your daily operations will only strengthen the productivity and efficiency of your team.

Improving Operational Efficiency Starts with Improving Communication

Maximizing resources starts with instilling confidence and trust among the frontline team. Efficiencies on the jobsite inherently cannot happen if workers are confused about the next steps, are not adequately prepared for the task at hand, and do not feel empowered or educated enough to make the right call.

Communicating with your team through a mobile device helps managers clearly and concisely provide direction, set expectations, and answer critical questions. Once an update is shared, it can forever live on a worker's mobile device, eliminating the need to repeatedly halt work and address an entire team to share updates and answer questions. This increases productive time throughout the day and improves your team's project efficiency.

Conclusion

Establishing direct, two-way communication streams among your workers is the first step in creating a more productive and confident workforce. Communication with mobile devices is second nature to today's workforce, making them an easy-to-implement tool and effective platform for improving your team's communication practices and, ultimately, your operational efficiency.


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