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2. Open communication and collaboration


Return to March 2021 update


Length: 2.6 min read;  531 words.

Note: The following paragraphs summarize the category of Open communication and collaboration observed in March. More information about the specific category from March (and previous months) can be found in the downloaded report(s).The number in square brackets (e.g., [X]) refers to a reference where the reader can find more infomation about a specific statement.  The references can be found in the References list below, Systematized References page or in the dowloaded report.


The March communication volume and openness is on pre-pandemic levels (as in December). The trend we suggested in May that the industry accepted open communication and collaboration as a new normal almost disappeared by March ‘21. We estimate that the industry is communicating and collaborating in March ‘21 less openly than in December ‘20 (10% representativeness in the selected references - down from 20% in December). The industry’s operations returned to pre-pandemic business-as-usual. The businesses have learned to take advantage of the situation (“silver lining”). Practitioners are cautious and protective of their businesses, due to continuous challenges, such as supply chain delays, high cost of raw material and labor shortage, issues with contracting and potential litigations. The number of mentions of open communication and collaboration continues to decline (2.3% in March ‘21 vs. 4.6% in December ‘20). Retrospectively, “the industry has collaborated more and better than ever before.” [132] For example, current global supply chain issues require global open communication and collaboration (China, the US and Europe); industry stakeholders should collaborate to find mutually beneficial solutions both for the current crisis, and to prevent something this disruptive from happening again: “Everyone is responsible, but no one is to blame.” [188]

The AEC companies are launching initiatives to educate and promote collaboration. For example, Trimble launches 4 online educational series called Dimensions Spotlight focusing on infrastructure, workforce, sustainability and automation. “Our Spotlight Series is one answer to this ‘better normal’, which will allow us to address industry challenges and present real solutions that can help companies grow and thrive by improving productivity, quality, safety, transparency and sustainability.” [189] Canadian contractors take the Lunchbox Challenge to thank workers and help restaurants. The British Columbia Construction Association announced the second annual #lunchboxchallenge as part of its Construction and Skilled Trades Month in April. Organizers are offering 100 grants totaling $37,500 to encourage construction employers to treat their crews to a free lunch from a local restaurant. There will be 50 grants of $250 and 50 grants of $500, depending on crew size. Originally the brainchild of Vancouver-based Scott Construction in spring 2020 after the onset of the pandemic, #lunchboxchallenge was widely embraced by Canadian contractors, with more than 200 firms participating. It became an official part of Construction Month this year [190] The sustainability and climate change efforts require open communication and collaboration of all stakeholders especially in supply chains. For example, Starbucks plans to improve sustainable coffee sourcing, reducing its largest carbon culprit. With the company's network of 400,000 farmers in 30 countries, its sustainability agenda has an impact on the coffee world. But to create the resiliency and overall environmental goals needed to stave off future climate disruptions and costs, the company plans to collaborate and share information across the industry. [191] Developing joint projects at scale is often an effective way to build trust-based partnerships. For suppliers, this means co-investing in the design of new products in order to achieve sustainable costs and optimize the goods supplied.[192] Competitors work together in formal or informal ways.[193] Leveraging community knowledge and collaboration helped in COVID-related retrofits od school construction projects. [194] Open source code adoption matters for industry leaders to excel at software development, not just usage but contribution as well. [156]

See December Category Summary


[189] “Trimble launches online educational series”, International Construction, March 03, 2021. (accessed April 26, 2021)
Monthly Summary: 
AEC and Pandemic: Response and Impact - March 2021 Update