A recent article from an engineering journal has shed some new light on an age old issue-the drop of productivity in construction. The article is titled “Don’t Blame the Worker.” In short, the article covers a study on craft workers and came to some conclusions that may shock some people.
Workers want to work and they have no intention to be unproductive. The research team found that most management persons, particularly in the general contracting sector, “lacked sufficient understanding of the issues that keeps craft workers off their tools.” The most common complaints by the workers were no forklifts to move wallboard, no reply from the engineer/architect about unclear plans and specs, fixing prefabricated items and looking for tools.
“The vast majority of workers want to be productive,” said Chris Buck of Productivity Enhancement Resources. It was also noted that some fingers pointed at labor unions as being the problem. But with a decline in union market share being equal to decline in construction productivity, it seems that is now an officially a moot point.
My additional thoughts to this article are that many management personnel today have little to no field experience. College is great but you do not learn how to lay out a job, motivate people and the importance of sequencing in school. And you certainly do not learn what can and can’t be done by the craft people on site. It may look pretty on paper but is it feasible to achieve? Spread sheets are nice but there is just no substitute for a smart savvy carpenter, lather, drywaller or plasterer.
On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!: Don't Blame the Worker
By Mark Fowler
Mark Fowler joined Walls & Ceilings as editorial director in 2006. Fowler grew up in the construction business and has held a number of positions in different companies and associations. He spent 11 years with the Northwest Wall and Ceiling Bureau before moving to his position with Soltner Group Architects in Seattle. Fowler is currently the executive director of the Stucco Manufacturers Association. He can be reached at Mark@markfowler.org.
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