How Effective is Unified Communications in the Construction Industry?

Updated: June 24th, 2024

It has been widely reported just how far behind the times the construction industry has fallen in recent years. Failing to keep up with modern trends and improvements other businesses have benefitted from not only holds the industry back, but has seemingly come to represent the industry more than the impressive structures it produces.  So, things are in desperate need of change.

To bring the construction industry into the 21st century and to improve daily work practices, most are turning to technology as the solution, and who can blame them? With 91% of businesses adopting some kind of digital-first strategy, according to data from Gartner, and with construction businesses in desperate need of a digital shift, the trend is surely applicable to those dealing with bricks and mortar. Specifically, the need to improve internal and external communications within the construction business has been highlighted – something Unified Communications could help with in a huge way.

But what are Unified Communications? Why are they seen as such a game changer for businesses and how can they help the construction business specifically? Read on to learn more.

Unified Communications and Construction - Elite Group

What is Unified Communications (UC)?

Unified Communications platforms are digital applications that house all the essential communications tools a business needs to remain productive and profitable. Specifically, they’re home to applications for voice, chat, instant messaging, file transfers, collaboration, video conferencing, and more. Powered by Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP), easily installable on a range of digital devices, and accessible via an internet data connection in virtually any location, UC platforms help workers to connect and collaborate with each other wherever they happen to be, making unified communications perfect for teams that are dispersed between multiple sites. 

Unified Communications and Construction - Elite Group

How Unified Communications Can Be a Game Changer for Construction Communication Channels

Better Collaboration

Communication issues that stem from poor collaboration have been plaguing the construction industry for decades. According to the Project Management Institute, over 50% of construction projects that fail are due to poor communication. Projects fail because of a lack of streamlined, effective communication tools to keep all members of the team fully informed at all times, so they can fulfil their roles as effectively as possible.

Given that many large-scale construction projects consist of large teams, or multiple teams working in different areas of a site, keeping everyone in the know at all times can be a headache. If there is no set or preferred communication method in place to keep everyone up to date, these teams often end up relying on various messaging applications or sporadic phone calls or relying on communication to be passed on verbally to have an understanding of the situation. Not only does this result in a disconnect between teams as well as delays, but it can also result in greater safety complications (more on those in a moment).

However, Unified Communications allow construction teams across multiple sites or locations to have a full view of all updates and tasks whenever they want, thanks to a single, all-encompassing, streamlined communication environment, which everyone can rely on. This eliminates the need for multiple communication avenues, which can be confusing, and simplifies the communication process across the board. In turn, this leads to far better collaboration on construction sites, which means everybody has access to the information and communication necessary to complete projects and hit deadlines. 

Improved Safety Standards

According to data from the Health and Safety Executive, there were over 4,000 non-fatal injuries suffered by construction workers in the year 2022/23, making it the highest-ranked industry in the country for workplace accidents. Similar statistics can be found in almost every country, and the fatality figures follow suit, making the need for effective safety standards devastatingly obvious. In the same breath, workplace injuries lead to workers needing to take recovery time, if they’re able to return to the site at all, causing productivity to plummet and placing the entire project at risk of failure.

Poor communication is a leading cause of accidents in a high-risk workplace; if workers aren’t able to communicate with their colleagues effectively, the disconnect could result in lost information that was prudent for a specific task. Add to this the fact that safety guidelines are often difficult to access (without keeping a paper copy present at all times) and mistakes are easily made.

But with Unified Communications, colleagues can remain in constant communication at all times, with safety managers are easily able to update their entire team in an instant, as well as updating and passing on essentials, like safety manuals, when they are produced. Along with this, Unified Communications solutions are home to digital collaboration environments that can be viewed in real-time, meaning everyone has the opportunity to be kept informed on important developments in a construction project – no matter where they are. 

Performance Metrics

In an industry as time-sensitive as construction, it is also essential to be able to monitor how a project is progressing (or not progressing) and see what changes need to be made to keep things on schedule. But aside from management level, it can be difficult for most workers on the ground to have a clear indication of whether they’re working at a suitable pace, or need to pick up the pace to meet deadlines.

Beyond simply monitoring this by eye, construction companies need a more accurate way of measuring performance metrics, if they want to be sure a project will be completed as expected. Thankfully, many Unified Communications systems come with built-in performance indicator tools, so companies can keep a watchful eye on the performance of their workers and take action if anyone is falling behind. Not only this, but companies can effectively communicate this need to the relevant workers, ensuring they’re kept aware of the situation and can shift their approach to their work for the betterment of the project, if needed.

Cost Cutting

With so many workers and so much equipment involved, along with necessary and unexpected expenditures, the costs involved in large-scale construction can quickly skyrocket. This is why it’s essential to keep costs as low as possible, wherever possible, without jeopardising the project. But given the essential nature of the tools, materials, and staff, there’s often little that can be sacrificed. However, one area many construction companies fail to consider when trying to keep spending low is their communications.

If a construction company is still relying on legacy technology to keep their staff and partners informed, chances are they’re losing cash in the long term, as well as spending needlessly on multiple forms of communication, such as video conferencing and file transfer services. But with Unified Communications, a business can slash costs by consolidating all communication expenditures into a single platform, with a single monthly bill that’s easy to understand. 

Not only will this help keep costs down without sacrificing materials or staff, but it will also make the job of the finance manager far easier. Yes, it may cost a small sum in the beginning to onboard Unified Communications, but the benefits enjoyed throughout the project and the many projects to come will undoubtedly make up for the loss in quickfire time.

Boosting Productivity

With so many construction projects failing to be completed on time (if they’re completed at all), it’s only logical to assume a lack of productivity among the workforce is, at least, partly to blame. However, beyond simple laziness or an unenthusiastic working environment, it’s actually possible that the communications setup could be adding to the problem. According to a report by Harvard Business Review, workers spend around four hours a week toggling between applications in their roles. It might not sound like much in the short term, but it represents a mass of productivity lost when looked at over a year period. When it comes to construction workers needing to communicate with their colleagues or management, office-based construction staff (or even site staff in some cases) could toggle endlessly between applications like text, messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, and a host of others, depending on the needs of the situation. This constant switching costs precious seconds and minutes of lost productivity time, which could have been better spent driving the project forward.

However, because all communication applications within Unified Communications systems are housed in a single platform, there’s no need to constantly toggle and users can even switch the format of their communication seamlessly without needing to terminate the original connection. This saves time which employees can put to better use and helps productivity rates remain high.

Unified Communications and Construction - Elite Group

Work with Elite Group to Onboard Unified Communications Into Your Construction Operation

If moving to Unified Communications sounds like it would be a good move for your construction company,speak to the experts at Elite Group. With years of experience helping businesses make the most of their technology, improve communication, and hundreds of satisfied customers, we’re the team to get you on board with Unified Communications for construction.

With Elite, you’ll be assigned a dedicated account manager who will help see your UC technology onboarding through from the very beginning to the end, and beyond. They’ll keep you up to date with any important developments and will offer handy advice on how best to manage the shift from legacy technology to more modern solutions. They’ll also be your first port of call for any technical issues that arise. As the solution is cloud-based, most problems can be solved within a matter of minutes, so you won’t need to spend days or even weeks waiting on lengthy repairs.

Trusted by some of the world’s biggest business communications and technology companies to deliver their products to the masses – including 8×8, Mitel and Microsoft – Elite Group is here to help bring your communications and your productivity to a level befitting your consistent, hard work.

To find out more about Unified Communication in construction companies, or any other of our products, speak to an Elite Group expert today.