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The impact of COVID-19 outbreak on United Kingdom infrastructure sector

Haddy Jallow (Costain Plc, London, 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)

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment

ISSN: 2046-6099

Article publication date: 25 June 2020

Abstract

Purpose

In December 2019, news broke out from the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the first outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China. On 11 March 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 to officially be a pandemic. The UK was put under lockdown on the 23 March 2020 by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the lockdown introduced strict measures put into place including the restriction for unnecessary working from offices, and only leaving houses if it is deemed essential. Therefore, this paper focusses on the changes that the infrastructure sector has had to undertake in order to adhere to the COVID-19 lockdown rules while being productive.

Design/methodology/approach

Given the new and unexplored nature of the research problem, a qualitative research methodology was adopted. In total, five semi-structured interviews from three infrastructure sector organisations were conducted to collect data, which was then analysed using thematic analysis for inference and conclusion.

Findings

The results indicate that the lockdown is proving to be difficult to manage projects as staff members are working from home. This leads to delays on a project activities as many staff members cannot physically go on site and conduct works. The managers are finding difficult to manage their teams. However, technological tools such as video chat and meetings via online platforms have proven to be most effective in communications with project teams. The Building Information Modelling Design has been useful as the 3D design models helps to visualise the project within team meetings in order to comply with the COVID-19 rules and follow social distancing guidelines while still carrying on works. However, induction to any new starter is proving to be difficult to manage with the pandemic and lockdown as it involves a drugs and alcohol test prior to commencing work of that project.

Originality/value

This paper provides a rich insight into the understanding and awareness of the impact of COVID-19 and the changes that the infrastructure sector has had to undertake in order to adhere to the lockdown rules while being productive. This study contributes towards informing policymakers on some lessons learnt from the management of the COVID-19 from an infrastructure sector perspective. Furthermore, 12 key implications are drawn for decision-makers within the infrastructure sector business to rethink and act to deal with the pandemic crisis.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.We would like to thank the review team for their encouragement and guidance throughout the review process. The paper has significantly benefited from their comments. We would also like to give our sincere thanks and appreciation to the interviewees that accepted to participate in the study despite of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Citation

Jallow, H., Renukappa, S. and Suresh, S. (2020), "The impact of COVID-19 outbreak on United Kingdom infrastructure sector", Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/SASBE-05-2020-0068

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited