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The effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the UK construction industry and the process of future-proofing business

Mark Stride (Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Suresh Renukappa (Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Subashini Suresh (Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Wolverhampton, Wolverhampton, UK)
Charles Egbu (Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Article publication date: 31 December 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

COVID-19 was officially declared as a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11th March 2020, before the UK was put into lockdown on the 23rd March 2020. Organisations had to reconsider their policies and procedures to allow their businesses to continue. This paper aims to focus on the effects of COVID-19 that the UK construction sector has had to undertake to enable businesses while employees had to adhere to COVID-19 lockdown rules. In addition, how the sector can positively continue once normality has returned within the industry. In doing so, this paper understands the historical issues within the construction sector and has had an effect during COVID-19.

Design/methodology/approach

A qualitative research methodology approach was taken to help obtain live information. In total, 19 semi-structured interviews from 15 organisations related to the construction sector were conducted to collect data. This information was evaluated using thematic analysis to arrive at the results, inferences and recommendations to the sector.

Findings

This research has revealed that companies have had to adopt a three-stage process to overcome a new dimensional challenge of COVID-19. These include: 1. Making quick decisions during the first stage of the pandemic. 2. Producing new policies and procedures to restart businesses enabling staff to return to the workplace safely. 3. Implementing methods to future-proof organisations against any potential pandemics. To help organisations future-proof their business five C’s are recommended.

Originality/value

This paper provides a rich insight into the understanding and awareness of the effects of COVID-19 and the changes that the construction sector has had to undertake to adhere to the lockdown rules while remaining productive. This research contributes towards informing policymakers on some of the lessons learned during the management of the COVID-19 pandemic from a construction sector perspective.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for useful comments and suggestions for improvements. The paper has significantly benefited from their comments. The authors would also like to give their sincere thanks and appreciation to the interviewees that accepted to participate in the study despite the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Citation

Stride, M., Renukappa, S., Suresh, S. and Egbu, C. (2021), "The effects of COVID-19 pandemic on the UK construction industry and the process of future-proofing business", Construction Innovation, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/CI-03-2021-0045

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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