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Remote working in construction: assessing the affordance of digitisation

Zahirah Mokhtar Azizi (Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
James Cochrane (Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Niraj Thurairajah (Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Nurul Sakina Mokhtar Azizi (School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia, George Town, Malaysia)

Built Environment Project and Asset Management

ISSN: 2044-124X

Article publication date: 8 August 2022

Issue publication date: 17 January 2023

261

Abstract

Purpose

As remote working becomes increasingly popular, remote working could unlock new ways of working through digitisation. However, the construction sector has been slow to adopt digitisation in its processes, making digitisation difficult to assess whether this affordance may be well received and the current capabilities of digitisation to achieve this effectively. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the interest in remote working amongst construction sector personnel and to examine the factors affecting remote working through digitisation affordances.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on a case study of one of the largest contractor firms in the United Kingdom, an online questionnaire survey was used to collect responses from 125 construction professionals. Statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) was used to do basic statistical analysis on the results.

Findings

The findings show that there is a general appetite for remote working on a flexible basis where a mix of “on-site” and “off-site” arrangement was deemed practical. This could potentially unlock significant time and cost savings as well as productivity gains. The main factors affecting remote working were the availability of interconnected systems allowing efficient communication and digital infrastructure that enable automated processes.

Research limitations/implications

The research is limited to a large contractor company and may not be appropriate for small and medium-sized companies. The findings may benefit organisations to evaluate the practical needs of ensuring effective remote working in the construction industry and unlocking efficiencies.

Originality/value

The paper adds value to understanding the affordances and constraints of digitisation for remote working from the perspective of construction professionals.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper was submitted as a working paper at the ARCOM Conference 2021: Recover, Rebuild and Renew, online, in partnership with Technological University Dublin on 6th to 7th September 2021. The authors sincerely thank the panel of reviewers for the constructive feedback, which has aided in the development of this paper.

Citation

Mokhtar Azizi, Z., Cochrane, J., Thurairajah, N. and Mokhtar Azizi, N.S. (2023), "Remote working in construction: assessing the affordance of digitisation", Built Environment Project and Asset Management, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 5-19. https://doi.org/10.1108/BEPAM-12-2021-0148

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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