The impact of COVID-19 has been felt across the board, though the severity has differed from sector to sector. Thankfully, the construction industry was largely able to keep working during 2020 and the first half of 2021, but not without following new regulations. As restrictions begin to lift across the UK, these are the four biggest construction trends of the year.
The construction sector has been innovating and adjusting throughout the pandemic in order to keep employees safe and profits high. Many of the industry trends which have been developed, tested and put into practice recently will remain the standard for years to come, even in a post-pandemic UK.
What is a construction franchise?
A construction franchise is a franchise business which operates in the huge and resilient construction sector. The sector umbrella is huge, and most franchises that fall under it will have more particular construction specialisms on which they focus, and will operate in a wide range of sizes and styles. Here are a few examples of specialist construction franchises, performing well in their niche areas:
- Approved Resin Driveways - The resin bound driveway installation franchise sources quality products at reasonable prices for their clients.
- Snag Doctor - Working with major UK house building companies, Snag Doctor offers a range of specialist hard surface repair services.
- Schmidt - The kitchen and interior solutions franchise offers franchisees a six-figure salary and provides clients with innovative products.
- Pirtek - The company provides emergency hydraulic solutions to commercial and industrial companies across the country.
>> Read more:
The shape of the UK construction industry post-COVID
The construction industry is building up again after the impact of the pandemic, with the sector’s output growing by 0.9% or £123,000,000 in January 2021 [Office for National Statistics]. This sales boost is great news for construction franchises across the country, and the positive picture is likely to continue to improve as restrictions continue to lift.
While 80.51% of companies have had to cancel or postpone their projects due to COVID [CHAS], the sector has largely managed to weather the storm and re-enter a stage of growth and profit.
The top four construction sector trends in 2021
1. A focus on health, safety and protective equipment
In March 2020, many construction projects were placed on pause unless they could be deemed absolutely necessary. Then, as more construction companies were able to return to work, protective equipment was prioritised, and additional health and safety guidelines were introduced.
Though some of these restrictions will be lifted post-COVID, many of the structures and systems which have been put in place will remain in place, meaning that construction workplaces are safer for employees in the long term.
2. Hybrid models of working
For many, the pandemic has been a time of home working, and managers, franchisees and franchisors have seen first-hand that, even at home, employees are still willing and able to work hard and get the job done. This has led to one of the biggest construction trends of 2021.
As more people are fully vaccinated and more return to offices, some businesses in the construction industry are moving towards a hybrid model of working, in which employees are at home on some days and in the office on others. Forecasting predicts that levels of construction in the private housing sector will rise by 21% this year, while office construction levels will drop by 9% [Glenigans]. This will also affect the kinds of projects that construction companies are working on.
While commercial and office space requests have largely gone cold, we have heard talk within the industry about increased demand from apartment developments that advertise “work from home” space as part of their appeal. We expect that many MEP contractors will make a shift from commercial projects to the cut-throat market of residential work in order to meet this demand.
3. Increased investment in digital solutions
The tech sector is expanding on a constant basis. In fact, as you’re reading this sentence, someone is probably inventing a new concept for an app. In order to keep up with fast-emerging trends in the construction sector, you’ll need to make some digital investments. For instance, many companies in the industry have recently been looking into virtual reality and 3D printing, searching for ways to fully visualise work before it has been completed.
Going into next year, businesses will need to become more collaborative, integrated and ever more automated. [...] The use of AI technology, virtual reality, increased automation, robotics and 3D printing will be key for companies to respond to demand, as will a more integrated approach through collaboration and the sharing of technologies.
—Chris Jones, Odgers Interim Industrial Consultant
4. Increased investment in new talent
In the last year, unemployment levels have been pushed up by the pandemic, particularly among fresh-faced graduates searching for jobs with companies who, largely, weren’t hiring. Now, with new projects finally getting off the ground and the sector financially recovering from losses incurred, construction company trends show an increased investment in new talent and apprenticeship programmes.
During 2021, CITB is set to expand apprenticeship support to include “all levy-registered construction employers” [DBR Limited]. Construction employers will be supported through every step of the apprenticeship set-up process, and will be offered help with:
- Accessing grants
- Choosing the right training provider and apprenticeship standard
- Navigating the government’s online apprenticeships system
- Building business partnerships with colleges and other apprenticeship training providers
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Build a better future by starting your career in the construction industry today
For the construction sector, 2021 will continue to be a year of success, growth and comeback. For the franchising sector, the picture is similar. Many different lessons have been learned in the past year, and now, businesses can put these lessons into practice and increase profits across the board.
If you’ve been thinking about making an investment in a franchise, construction or otherwise, now is the perfect time. Explore Point Franchise’s UK franchise directory to discover all the different investment options available to you.
Lily Sweeney, Point Franchise ©