The construction and FM industry is crying out for change. Ever since the 2008 financial crisis, productivity in the UK has flatlined – and the construction industry has been one of the worst affected sectors. With the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 and the UK in recession once more, the industry will have to adapt or face the consequences. 

The problem with trust

Trust is paramount if companies are going to work together successfully. Construction projects are the backbone of economic growth for many countries. Each year a magnitude of funds is funnelled into infrastructure projects – think HS2 and Crossrail in the UK. 

But often because of the sheer scale and complexity of these construction projects (the number of phases and contractual links, and the government involvement), scope for corruption in the industry is high. 

According to data from the Insolvency Service, the construction sector remains the second-highest ranking sector for insolvencies in 2017. This lack of trust and transparency, is not only detrimental to the future of the industry, but it is costing lives.

It comes as no surprise that the investigation into the Grenfell fire found out that the main contractor behind the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower offered cheaper, more combustible cladding while misrepresenting the savings the switch would lead to in a bid to “pocket the difference.” 

Dealing with large contractors like Rydon, in particular construction, facilities management or housing association organisations can pose big challenges for industry stakeholders. Often, it becomes all about pushing the costs down to the next person in the chain.

Feedback from an anonymous stakeholder working in construction reported how “there’s just no trust there, we have to hide our costs and add in extra costs because we know they’ll come up with any excuse to discount, delay or not pay our invoice.”

Now, with the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 and the UK in recession, having a solid foundation of trust is more critical than ever – not only for the survival of the industry, but for the health and safety of ordinary people living in the UK. 

A new way forward with Market Networks

Market Networks connect businesses with their customers and subcontractors. In this respect, they are similar to on-demand smartphone apps such as Uber and Deliveroo that connect their gig workers with customers – except that the users of Market Networks are not anonymous, nor are they particularly disposable to one another either. In fact, Market Networks are used to improve transparency and build long-term relationships.

Market Networks are typically created within a specific industry or around a particular area of expertise. Examples of Market Networks already operating within the UK include Houzz for home designers, Eventerprise for event planners, and for those in the trade industries – Okappy.

While the use of Market Networks is not yet widespread within the Construction industry, there are nevertheless several success stories of companies and individuals implementing Market Network systems already. 

Convert Water Ltd offer an all-round service to their customers, providing all elements of treatment and pumping of wastewater and sewage. They provide services as installers, subcontractors or main contractors, offering a total service package. They started using the Okappy Market Network to manage their workforce. 

Following implementation, Convert Water Ltd and their customers have a lot more visibility and control over the work they do. Information is updated in real-time and instantly available to all stakeholders, resulting in fewer calls from customers wondering about the status of a job and less chasing for information from their technicians. This extra time enabled Convert Water Ltd to focus on the areas of the business that really needed attention; resulting in growing the company approximately 40% year-on-year.

“It frees up our time and allows me to spend more of it visiting sites and bringing in more work. This wouldn’t have been possible without Okappy! My engineers can add jobs for themselves so, if additional work needs to be done while on site, they can quickly add it on. Alternatively, if they need to go back to do further work, they can schedule it straight away without having to chase me.” – Anthony, Director of Convert Water. 

Time for change 

“Covid-19 was the tipping point for us going fully digital. If Covid-19 hadn’t happened, we would have eventually gone down this route, but probably would have introduced it on a smaller scale with one contract at a time.” – Ewen Maclean, Facilities Maintenance Manager at Lewis Builders Ltd.

Covid-19 is causing us to rethink how we work and restructure industries across the board. If the FM and Construction sectors don’t make changes now, it could be too late. 

How Okappy can help

Okappy is designed to streamline your communications and workforce management processes, and is one solution that could help reduce disruption to your business. With Okappy you can communicate with your network, send and receive jobs, manage your workforce remotely, run reports, and raise invoices – all on one platform. You can receive updates to job details as they happen and view all important documents needed for the work in one secure place. To learn more, request a call here.

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