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3. Procedures of shifting workflows

Return to March 2021 Update

 Includes the following 6 subcategories:

Length: 24 min read;  4,959 words.

Note: The following paragraphs summarize the category of Procedures of shifting workflows 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.

 

This category had again the highest interest with 35.8% representation in the selected references. This category has taken the number one position for the seventh time in the 8 monthly reports for the past 12 months. It remained of the highest interest due to enormous challenges contractors were facing such as market conditions and issues with cash and working capital, contracting and potential litigations; delayed and/or canceled projects. In March ‘21 the US contractors continue to report major challenges: worker H&S, project shutdowns and delays, fewer projects, less availability of products, and labor shortage increase, supply chain delays, material shortage and cost fluctuations. On the other hand, the industry is finally in positive trajectory; Architectural Billing Index (ABI), an indicator of future construction spending, shows positive trend first time since the pandemic began, contractors’ revenue expectations and backlogs are on the rise with reports of delayed projects restarting. Three subcategories, Current situation, Supply chain, and Workspace re-entry have been discussed more in March ‘21 than in December ‘20.

a) Current situation

The increase of interest in this subcategory that covers news of quantitative and qualitative market changes globally, are due to continuous challenges but also optimistic news such as reopenings, projects restart and various global news like governmental stimulus bills and supply chain issues affecting AEC. One year into pandemic, in March ‘21, the US contractors continue to report major challenges: worker H&S, project shutdowns and delays, fewer projects, less availability of products, and labor shortage increase [99], supply chain delays, material shortage and cost fluctuations. On the other hand, Architectural Billing Index (ABI), an indicator of future construction spending, shows positive trend first time since the pandemic began [100], contractors’ revenue expectations and backlogs are on the rise [101] with reports of delayed projects restarting [102]. A bleak 2021 outlook from December started to change, although it is “just a start” according to the experts. More contractors plan to increase spending on tools and equipment, increasing to 37% from 28% in Q2 2020. Before the pandemic (Q1 2020), 54% said they planned to increase spending. A majority (80%) of contractors are still experiencing delays due to COVID-19, with an average share of 23% of their projects delayed, but that share is expected to drop to 15% looking ahead 6 months. Residential construction jobs are back to their pre-pandemic peak of February 2020, while non-residential has regained only 51% of those jobs. [195][101] January ’21 data published in March shows only 4 nonresidential construction categories have experienced growth in spending on a YoY basis, all of which are primarily publicly financed segments. These are highway and street, public safety, water supply and sewage and waste disposal. [105] Autodesk data shows construction bidding activity is up 36%.[106] Backlog is stabilizing and many nonresidential contractors expect both sales and staffing levels to expand over the next 6 months. [105] New starts will be up in 2021 but backlog could slide in 2022. New starts this year are forecast to increase 6%, but the starting backlog forecast for 2022 is projected to decrease 5%. Nonresidential construction spending will drop in 2021, but healthcare and commercial retail are projected to rebound in 2022. Autodesk’s report projects nonresidential building spending to decrease by 20% by October compared to February 2020. In 2022, spending on healthcare and commercial/retail is expected to grow by 3% and 6%, respectively. Transportation has been less impacted. The report forecasts 10% growth in transportation spending in 2021, due in part to strength in backlog from several multibillion dollar starts over the past few years. The Biden administration’s focus on national transportation infrastructure could also lead to long-term positive impacts. Additional gains will be made in other areas of nonbuilding infrastructure. Certain segments of the nonbuilding infrastructure will see an increase in spend including sewer and water (4%) and highways and bridges (2%). Total public spending in 2021 is projected to be $384B, up 8.5% from 2020. Growth in the residential sector heavily contributes to the gains expected in total spending in 2021. Starting backlog growth is also expected to pick up next year, particularly for the commercial, healthcare and transportation sectors. [106] Construction spending in the lodging segment is down nearly 23% over the past year, and office construction spending is down on both a monthly and yearly basis. In addition, the future of remote work, business travel and brick-and-mortar retail is still uncertain, so construction spending in a large number of private categories is poised to remain soft for the foreseeable future. [105]

Retail, office, and apartment sectors have been hit hard by pandemic. RE markets have begun to rebound in 2021, although office and retail rental numbers are lagging behind multifamily and industrial growth. The net operating income change for retail and apartment properties decreased by nearly 25% and 16%, respectively, to end 2020. Experts expect interest rates to remain low for the foreseeable future and noted that homeownership is on the rise and that issues with lumber prices continue to impact homebuilders and multifamily developers. Lumber prices continued to rise during the pandemic, along with the prices of other materials. Lumber futures nearly reached 175% of their April 2019 cost to start 2021. [196] New data shows that U.S. contractors are growing more optimistic, mostly driven by a rise in revenue expectations. They also have better outlooks on hiring as business concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic lessen, according to the latest U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index. In the first quarter of this year, 36% of contractors said they expect their revenue to increase over the next year, a jump of 11% from the last quarter of 2020. 87% expect their revenue to either stay the same or increase, up from 86% last quarter. Most (86%) contractors also reported a moderate to high level of confidence that the U.S. market will provide enough new business in the next year. In addition, close to half (46%) of contractors said they will employ more people in the next 6 months, up from 37% in Q4 2020. The same percentage (46%) expect to keep the same number of workers, and just 3% expect to reduce their staffing, down from 12% in Q4 2020. Despite the positive news, the index remains 12 points below its score of 74 from Q1 2020 before the COVID-19 outbreak and it found that contractors' top concerns are related to the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Tariff and trade concerns are up. More contractors say steel and aluminum tariffs will have a high to very high degree of impact on their business in the next three years. Another analysis released earlier this month backs up concerns over an increasing shortage of skilled labor. The 2020 Marcum JOLTS Analysis found that construction employees are becoming harder to find. In addition, as contractors in some regions struggle to find labor, wages have risen to record levels. In January 2021, average hourly earnings of construction employees reached their highest level ever, $32.11, and average weekly hours worked rose to their highest level since 2019's third quarter. [99] [103] Employee vaccination rate will become a new KPI. 90% of employers could look to require vaccines for office return. [104]

One year into the pandemic, the crisis is globally taking its toll on the industry. Governmental investments in infrastructure are ubiquitous. For example, UAE construction sector is in ‘crisis’. [107] As in the US [108] ($1.9T COVID-19 relief package includes $10B+ for capital projects [109]), the infrastructure investments in Russia and the countries that make up the (Commonwealth of Independent States) CIS nations are banking on infrastructure investment to bring economic growth. India’s annual budget has given a boost to the country’s construction industry, with overall infrastructure spending set to increase by over 30% and the establishment of a new Development Finance Institution. The new institution has a starting capital of approximately US$2.7B and will be used to help fund large-scale infrastructure projects. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that CA$14.9B (US$11.8B) is to be invested in Canada’s public infrastructure over the next eight years, in order to “rebuild a more sustainable and resilient economy”. The near-term outlook for North Africa will feature slow improvement, with growth picking up in the medium-term as the impact of the pandemic fades. The construction outlooks for Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia, the three countries in the region covered by the GCO, appear in the graph above. Each of these markets experienced a steep decline in 2020, even Egypt, whose economy managed to avoid recession. All are also poised for recovery in 2021, although Egypt will be the only one to see strong growth. Even Egypt will not reattain 2019 construction spending until 2021, and the lag will be considerably longer – into 2023 for Morocco and likely 2024 for Tunisia. [110] In Europe Webuild leads chase for €1bn Euro rail link in Italy.[197] In the EU production index growth rate (YoY) is still negative (-8%) with production costs and prices rising as in the US. [111] (More 2021 predictions for global building industry are in the December and September report.)

b) Remote work; Work from home (WFH)

The interest in remote work has been at its lowest level since April ’20 (3.9% representativeness in selected references), mostly in the publications covering hybrid workplace topics. The highest interest in WFH was in May ’20. Throughout 2020 we all adjusted to remote work. As the pandemic’s end is nearing, discussions focus on reopenings and workspace re-entry. The level of remote-work adoption that has occurred in the context of COVID-19 is unlikely to persist into the future. The future for knowledge-based workers is hybrid [198] and flexible. The longer we work remotely, the more it not only affects how we work, but also shapes our future expectations for the office. In December we reported that across the globe, workers now want a hybrid work model, e.g., remote work for approximately 2-3 days and then have in-person deliberative and collaborative interactions in the office. Employees outline benefits of remote work: ability to focus, improved wellbeing and work-life balance, and empowering workers with flexibility. The 9-to-5 is becoming the '3-2-2,' (three days in office, two days remote, and then two days off). More than 65% of the workforce expect to work in a hybrid scenario. [199] Other research found that 71% of workers who reported that their job responsibilities can mainly be done from home were still WFH “all or most of the time.” Of that same group, 54% reported that they would want to continue WFH even after the pandemic ends. [200] As a whole, U.S. companies have seen only about 30% of workers come into the office since March 2020.[196] Every company has its own culture and should rethink post-pandemic work models. Strategic design should reflect a post-pandemic workforce culture. [199] A hybrid approach is the only way going forward for AEC; “approximately 60% of the workforce can WFH”. Only some tech companies can afford 100% WFH indefinitely. Salesforce reported revenue of $5.82B in the latest quarter, up 20% from the same period last year, driven by record sales of remote-work and other business continuity apps. [201] Salesforce is writing and testing new software designed to help businesses return to physical offices in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Salesforce itself expects more than 50% of its employees to continue WFH going forward; more than 65% of its 54,000 global workers will come into the office only one to three days a week, up from 40% before the pandemic. [201]

Stanford study found that WFH practices improved resilience to a major, unanticipated social and economic shock. [202] Self-reported data from a wide range of organizations point to individual and team productivity being higher than before the onset of the pandemic, but not uniformly so. According to a McKinsey survey, productivity is up for about half of all workers, with the other half reporting no change or lower productivity. The same survey suggested that, while the inability to disconnect is a real concern, increased productivity is correlated to a willingness to change how people work. For instance, 67% of the organizations that reported higher productivity also reported a significant increase in work getting done through multiple, quick meetings, typically lasting less than 15 minutes or resolved through an exchange of text messages. Evidence is also emerging that appears to show a correlation between an employee’s sense of belonging and higher productivity. An unpublished McKinsey survey of employees found that companies that managed to build inclusiveness into the remote-work arrangements that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic were significantly more likely to see increased productivity. The shift to virtual work has also resulted in a wealth of new data about how work is done. Meetings are more likely to take place via videoconferencing. Communication is more likely to occur through electronic channels or remote-meeting applications. Such data, interpreted correctly, can pinpoint opportunities for skill building at a higher frequency and specificity. The ability to construct, schedule, and deliver remote courses with far greater ease and efficiency than in-person training, means that the promise of specific, real-time upskilling is closer than before.  [198] Cybersecurity threats are increasing exponentially due to remote work. [203]

c) Site procedures

The interest in Site procedures is at its lowest level since we started writing monthly reports with only 1.3% representativeness in selected references. Site protocols have been established and tested early on in the pandemic. Contractors have adjusted to new H&S rules in April/May and invested in various digital technologies for H&S on site such as physical distancing tracking. In the US, lawmakers are proposing bills to make construction safer. Specifically, in Nashville, the bill was designed to raise oversight and standards on construction projects funded by the city-county consolidated government. The “Get it Right” bill would set stricter standards for awarding Metro construction contracts, prevent contracting companies with major workplace violations within the last three years and set new standards for safe workplaces while providing incentives to contractors who commit to those standards. The bill also includes sanitation standards (to include bathrooms and handwashing stations at worksites) and employment standards, such as employment for temporary workers who are on site for more than 30 days. [204] Contractors consider COVID-19 vaccine incentives for hesitant workers. [205] Some positive construction site news published in March reminding us that better “normal” times are coming. For example, news about Crane 'flies' over New York City street to land atop Tiffany & Co. construction project [206]  and 200 Amsterdam to become New York's tallest skyscraper on the Upper West Side [207].

March brings further news about digitalization of construction site. For example, Volvo Construction Equipment is building a test and demonstration area for electric autonomous transport products to educate customers on how to use remote-control machines and autonomous connected systems. [208] Danish telematics specialist Trackunit has unveiled its new asset tracking system, Kin, for small tools and attachments. The Kin system features a small Bluetooth 5.2-enabled tag that can be quickly and solidly attached to any piece of construction equipment. The tag connects to Trackunit’s Go App, available for mobile devices, making it instantly discoverable, within a range of up to 400m. Once on the Trackunit system, any piece of tagged equipment, be it an attachment or a machine, can be instantly located, potentially saving operators time tracking it down.[209] Similarly, Bouygues Construction Matériel (BCM) is also to install sensors on more than 20,000 pieces of equipment, in an IoT (Internet of Things) project that aims to equip the units with real-time remote management and optimization capabilities. [210]  TraceAir [211] is reported as one of the 8 contech startups receiving funding for their construction site development platform that uses drones to develop 3D maps of construction projects. [129] 5G networks’ low latency on construction sites will allow for fast real-time transfer of data between two or multiple points. Though, having that kind of connectivity on a remote construction site is still years away. “We’re still using 4G LTE at many of our construction job sites where traditional wire line services are not available, such as in rural areas where we build solar and wind farms.”[212] Four innovations shaping infrastructure construction: 1) concrete sensor system,  2) unmanned bridge inspections, 3) recycled road pavement, and 4) highway worker protection vehicle. [213] (More information about digital technologies published in March can be found in the section for Adoption of (new) technologies.)

d) Supply chain

Supply chain news volume have been at the highest level since we started this project, with 15% representativeness in selected references. Supply chain news are focused on delays (for up to three months) in ports, additionally aggravated by the Suez Canal blockage. For example, Shippers consider redirecting cargo away from congested California ports [214], Yeti tests Port Houston in bid to avoid congestion [215], Imports spike at ports across US, Hapag-Lloyd warns of terminal congestion [216], Ever Given and the Suez Canal: A list of affected ships and what delays mean for shippers [135], Container ships steer toward longer route around Cape of Good Hope to avoid Suez Canal [136], and Shippers assess impact to cargo as Ever Given is freed from Suez Canal [217]. [137][218] Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) claims injecting more containers will not solve supply chain woes. Stricter regulatory frameworks and open communication and collaboration between China, the US and Europe is required. There is not a singular cause for the difficulties being felt around the world, but one of the major drivers is the congestion at ports across the globe. Ports everywhere are backed up, following factory closures and blank sailings in early 2020, a rapid rebound as consumer spending patterns recalibrated, and then logistics difficulties caused by warehouse space shortages and workforce disruptions. To support better cargo fluidity around the world, but particularly for U.S. exporters, all industry participants must work together. Every participant in the supply chain must collaborate to get through this challenging time, and, as regulators, we must also work with our counterparts across the globe to find solutions. [188] Inventories are dropping with no signs of softening demand. The inventories index dropped to 49.7, down from 50.8 in January. Any figure under 50 represents contracting inventory. And customer inventories were also reported as being too low, an indication purchasing companies are facing continued demand. “On the general comments, 46% were related to supply chain issues and or pricing impacts; no comments at all about demand softening.” One issue has been scheduling reliability in the ocean shipping industry, which dropped to just under 35% globally for January, according to Sea-Intelligence, the lowest level dating back to 2011 when Sea-Intelligence began keeping records. As ships take longer to berth, supplies take longer to get into warehouses, and lead times lengthen. [219]

Shortages of critical material such as semiconductors are affecting production globally. US companies are facing limited access to containers and space on vessels to ship exports abroad. Agriculture exporters, most notably those in America’s heartland, are struggling, paying high premiums that eliminate profit and the risks of loads not getting to customers on time. Not one industry is spared. For example, Wayfair cites ocean shipping disruption, port congestion for in-stock issues [220], Foot Locker cites port congestion for nearly 24% drop in inventory [221], Honda, Toyota limit production amid Port of LA congestion, supply shortages [222], and Nike's imports drop 39% amid port congestion, straining inventory.[223] Specifically, for the AEC industry, construction material shortages are causing price fluctuations. Of surveyed contractors experiencing the impact of cost fluctuations, 43% said wood/lumber is the product of most concern, followed by steel (35%) and copper (27%). Tariff and trade concerns are up. More contractors say steel and aluminum tariffs will have a high to very high degree of impact on their business in the next three years. [99]

Vaccine supply chain issues are trending. Logistics industry critical in getting COVID-19 vaccines to world. UNICEF will play critical role in supporting the transport and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to low and lower middle-income countries on behalf of the COVAX Facility. [29] Wealthy countries are blocking proposals to help developing nations increase their vaccine manufacturing capabilities. [20] Vaccine distribution and rollout are on its track in the US, a key factor in the decline of US COVID-19 case counts. [224] Vaccine factories churn out millions more doses, speeding US rollout of coronavirus shots – “The result is that we're now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every American adult by the end of May”.[225] Additionally, J&J plant authorization clears way for big boost in U.S. COVID-19 shots. [24] In Europe, vaccine tensions rise – due to slower distribution, the EU blocks Astra Zeneca export to the UK. ‘Everyone’s scrambling and hoarding”. [226][5][25]

Digitalization and automation of supply chains have been the most effective response to supply chain issues during the pandemic. By upgrading supplier data and intelligence, procurement leaders are adding agility to procurement processes outweighing cost savings for 96%. [227] Automation can enable product recommendation, personalization, chatbots and fulfillment centers at retailers like Walmart. Over the next two years, 53% of retail business leaders predict AI will have the greatest impact on customer intelligence, 50% expect it to impact inventory management and 49% say it will affect chatbots for customer services. During the pandemic, many data sources underwent radical change to account for disruption. Companies had to retrain machine learning models to adapt, specifically to build more empathetic responses. [228] Home Depot and Lowe's each spending more than $1B to upgrade their technology and expand fulfillment networks. [229] Boston Dynamics stretches into warehouse game with material-handling robot. [230]

(More information about digitalization and automation is in the section 6. Adoption of (new) technologies. Supply chain sustainability efforts are covered in the 1. c) section for Sustainability; Green future – opportunity to address climate change.)

e) Workspace re-entry

Workspace re-entry discussions increased in comparison to December due to overall optimistic reopening plans. Most of the companies are planning hybrid workplace. Bringing people together in person can enhance collaboration, ensure alignment, and foster community. Companies will need to decide when to require a physical presence, and how often such in-person meetings should take place. The moments that matter vary by roles and processes. Organizations need to accept that they may not get it right the first time and should treat this as a continuous experiment in which they regularly measure productivity, collaboration, innovation, and community. Companies need to understand both what is working (and scale it) and what is not working (and change it). Organizations need to accelerate building a real capability around the right way to do hybrid work, especially as more work returns to the workplace. Implemented correctly, the hybrid-working model brings a real competitive advantage because employees will have the flexibility that enables them to be more productive while still feeling that they belong to an energizing community. Leaders will need to make decisions about office RE footprint; how much space is needed and what will the working experience be like inside and outside the footprint. The average group sizes will define the footprint to foster meaningful interactions. For instance, if the vast majority of a company’s interactions are in smaller groups or teams, it can consider shifting offices to a greater number of small locations, rather than being anchored to a few large hubs. When it comes to the experience, businesses will need to create a seamless model that makes it possible to work from anywhere; from a company office, home, coworking stations, or other venues. Physical spaces will have to be adapted to focus on social and collaborative interactions rather than on providing spaces for individual work. As the post-COVID-19 era evolves, workers may expect companies to provide a more appealing office experience, which may require new thinking on digital experiences, amenities, and other aspects of working life. Organizations will need to analyze how they use space and how to repurpose the space they have to get the most value. More flexible leases will be required; ideally, landlords will become solution providers that work with companies as they reimagine their space. Finally, workspace re-entry requires clear guidelines, e.g., about when they expect people to show up in person for the moments that matter. They will need to define which decisions will be taken by top managers, and what latitude team managers will have to decide the extent of their in-person work. Site-based pilots, where practicalities such as meeting-room bookings, cross-silo team collaboration, and space requirements, will be critical to minimizing friction as people start to return in larger numbers. Consolidation projects, refurbishments, office moves; all these initiatives have been frozen and their slow reactivation is occurring amidst an atmosphere of uncertainty and a difficult mix of cynicism, reluctance, and even fear over implementing the wrong solutions. [198] A February survey found that 44% of employees polled didn’t know their company’s plans to return to the workplace. That is up from last September, when 37% of respondents polled by the group said they were unclear on their back-to-the-office plan. “We’re all asking ourselves what is that new normal. The new normal isn’t reverting back to the old normal.” [201]

Experts suggest that remote working could cut the overall need for office space by 15% post-pandemic. Downtown offices will remain, but they are getting an upgrade. By the first quarter of 2020, up to 70% of office spaces were primarily or partially open plan. Now in the first quarter of 2021, 3-2-2 professionals will expect upgraded offices post-pandemic; a superior in-office experience that gives them privacy and the ability to facilitate collaboration or solo concentration in distinct spaces. They’ll also expect better communication with the facilities management team as health concerns in shared spaces are here to stay. A recent Deloitte survey found that commercial RE holders plan to reduce costs by 20% on average, while simultaneously “optimizing operational costs and using technology to reposition space and for facilities management [to] improve operational resilience.” [231] COVID-safe Strategic design for workspace-re-entry should reflect a post-pandemic workforce culture. In considering the “new” office design, it is no longer necessary to start with the traditional conversation of data and requirements, such as space measurements, frequency of visitors, expected number of meetings, etc. Identification of an organization’s culture precedes detailing the logistics of building or enhancing a physical workplace Furthermore, a company’s culture transformation should be discussed in order for the company to sustain success in the new world of work. The actual shape of the office and the types and percentage of various workspaces will arise from culture. This works both ways – it is possible to use the workplace, both the physical and now the virtual, to change and mold the culture of an organization. The key here is being aware of and honest about the current state of the organization’s culture and clearly defining the new, desired culture. [199][91] On the basic level, the buildings should be retrofitted with all the regulations in mind such as the CDC physical distancing requirements. [232] Gensler analyzed 4 scenarios for workspace re-entry; 1) pre-pandemic (5days/week at office, 1:1 dedicated desks for all, 50% focus + 50% collaborative work, shared conference rooms, 2 large neighborhoods) ); 2) hybrid retrofit (2-3 days/week at office, unassigned desks, variety of furniture setting, 65% collaborative work, smaller neighborhoods, digital-intensive); 3) team-based flex (1-2 days/week at office, 80% team/group work in distributed settings, private neighborhoods with support spaces embedded; 20% focus on 1:1 collaboration); and 4) collaboration center (remote workforce, convene at office for only key team meetings + events, private project-based reservable neighborhoods, 95% collaborative work). The results provide 5 design interventions to mitigate virus risk in the workplace: 1) limit the number of days in the office; 2) cross team spread; 3) rethink circulation; 4) large conference rooms outperform mid-size conference rooms; and 5) provide semi-enclosed collaboration areas. [233]

f) Financials; cashflow / Contracts/ Litigations

The discussion about legal and financial issues is at its lowest volume since we started this project with 6.4% representation in selected references. The discussions include wage requirements law for workers in the US. Virginia becomes ninth state to create a worker protection unit. Its first priority will be bringing cases and enforcement action against individuals and businesses that commit wage theft and payroll fraud, as well as those who misclassify their workers as independent contractors. [234] Contractors consider COVID-19 vaccine incentives for hesitant workers. Not many construction firms are considering making vaccination a requirement, with the exception of those contractors that work in the healthcare industry. Legal professionals recommend that contractors should consider consulting with an attorney before implementing an incentive program to ensure that it does not violate Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) regulations. The EEOC has proposed new rules that would better define what types of incentives employers could offer without, in effect, coercing them to disclose protected medical information in exchange for some reward or in order to avoid a penalty. The regulations would limit acceptable incentives to those considered to be “de minimis,” or minor. [205]

Logistics costs of supply chains are eating all the margins. Online sales of consumer-packaged goods have soared during the pandemic. But for many CPG manufacturers, e-commerce means thinner margins. Advertising and shipping costs are higher in e-commerce, while promotional allowances are higher for brick-and-mortar stores. CPG executives expect margins to improve. Three priority levers for margin improvement: 1) e-commerce marketing investment; 2) , e-commerce revenue-growth management  (eRGM) (introducing differentiated SKUs; manage to the retailer pricing strategy; constantly monitor online prices; develop a retailer segmentation; get savvy on new data sources); 3) Omnichannel supply chain (improve demand forecasting and executional precision; redesign packaging to reduce costs; rethink delivery pathways). [235][236]

Backlog is stabilizing and many nonresidential contractors expect both sales and staffing levels to expand over the next 6 months. Bidding activity is 36% up from pre-pandemic levels. [105][106] New starts will be up in 2021 but backlog could slide in 2022. Backlog declined for many (Fluor revenue fell 9% in 2020, backlog also fell, from $32B in 2019 to $26B and Granite's backlog declines, but bids are roaring back [237]) but the companies are optimistic about the future, especially those working in infrastructure sector. [155] Contractors who expect rising sales and staffing levels during the first half of 2021 also anticipate shrinking margin mostly due to rising material prices. [105]

See December Category Summary

References

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[20] “Covid: Rich states ‘block’ vaccine plans for developing nations”, BBC News, March 20, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
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[197] “Webuild leads chase for €1bn Euro rail link”, KHL Group, March 08, 2021. (accessed May 02, 2021)
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[202] J. (Jianqiu) Bai, E. Brynjolfsson, W. Jin, S. Steffen, and C. Wan, “Digital Resilience: How Work-From-Home Feasibility Affects Firm Performance”, Social Science Research Network, Rochester, NY, SSRN Scholarly Paper ID 3616893, July 2020. doi: 10.2139/ssrn.3616893.
[203] Realcomm, “Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity IT (Part I)”. (accessed April 14, 2021)
[204] “Nashville lawmakers propose bill to make construction safer”, Construction Dive. (accessed April 28, 2021)
[208] “Volvo builds autonomous machine demo area”, Construction Technology, March 01, 2021. (accessed April 26, 2021)
[209] “Trackunit launches ‘Kin’ tag”, Construction Europe, March 03, 2021. (accessed April 26, 2021)
[210] “Bouygues launches ‘major’ IoT project”, Construction Technology, March 15, 2021. (accessed May 05, 2021)
[212] “Tech 101: 5G networks in construction”, Construction Dive. (accessed May 05, 2021)
[213] “4 innovations shaping infrastructure construction”, Construction Dive. (accessed May 07, 2021)
[215] “Yeti tests Port Houston in bid to avoid congestion”, Supply Chain Dive. (accessed May 03, 2021)
[219] “Inventories drop with no signs of softening demand: ISM”, Supply Chain Dive. (accessed April 26, 2021)
[226] S. Fleming, G. Chazan, B. Hall, L. Abboud, and M. Peel, “‘Everyone’s scrambling and hoarding’: Europe’s vaccine blunders”, Mar. 19, 2021. (accessed May 17, 2021)
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Monthly Summary: 
AEC and Pandemic: Response and Impact - March 2021 Update