In the construction industry, managing hundreds or even thousands of employees across multiple locations and on different project timelines can be a Herculean task. One of the most important things you can do as a contractor is effectively sharing resources across your offices. This is especially true for your most important resource, your people.
Ironically, this is one of the most difficult things to pull off because it requires systems in place that help you collaborate on, communicate, view, and adapt your workforce plan on the fly. When those systems are finally in place, the benefits of sharing resources across multiple offices are manifold.
In this article we’ll explore the benefits of sharing your people across multiple offices and locations, as well as the steps needed to effectively implement and manage this strategy.
Why is sharing hard?
If you ask most contractors if they’d like to share their resources across multiple locations, the answer is generally “yes”. So why doesn’t it happen that often?
There isn’t an easy answer for this, and it’s usually a unique set of problems to a company in particular. Although, there are some similarities across the industry to this problem and they have to do with the systems in place to handle workforce planning. Those systems are usually spreadsheets, which can work well for one person, but their limitations become obvious as soon as collaboration needs to happen.
This is how the story goes: one person or a small team owns a spreadsheet, they have a workforce planning meeting and they spend the whole meeting updating data, rather than doing real planning and strategy. Over time this leads to stagnation and frustration.
Now add 5 more offices doing this, and add multiple teams with different functions within a company, like Human Resources wanting to work together. Collaborating on a workforce plan using this method gets out of control really fast, and all of a sudden you’re behind on project timelines and your HR department is frustrated because they can’t recruit new talent to take on those projects on time.
The result is you just stick to your location and forget the others. What if it didn’t have to be that way though? What if true collaboration and communication was possible? What would your company look like?
Benefits of Sharing Resources
Before we get into the steps you can implement, you should understand why it’s worth sharing resources across multiple offices and what the benefits are.
- Optimized resource allocation: Sharing resources across multiple offices allows construction companies to allocate their workforce more efficiently. By having visibility on labor shortages and surpluses, companies can redistribute employees to areas where they are most needed. This results in efficient project timelines and reduced costs.
- Enhanced collaboration: When employees from different offices work together, they bring diverse perspectives, knowledge, and skills to the table. This can lead to improved problem-solving and innovative solutions.
- Increased employee retention: Sharing labor across offices can be particularly useful during an economic downturn, as it allows companies to find work for their employees in other locations rather than laying them off. This helps to maintain a skilled and experienced workforce, ensuring the company remains competitive once the economy recovers.
- Improved regional knowledge: By having visibility on regional projects across the organization, companies can better understand local market conditions, regulatory requirements, and client expectations. This knowledge can lead to improved decision-making and more successful project outcomes.
- Flexibility and adaptability: Construction companies that can effectively share resources are more agile and adaptable, allowing them to respond to changing market conditions and seize new opportunities as they arise.
- Better employee development: This is especially useful for Human Resources leaders. If you share labor effectively, you can provide learning opportunities for willing employees who want to work with different project teams on different kinds of projects, helping them expand their skill set and experience.
Steps to Effectively Share People Across Multiple Offices
The best way to get the benefits of sharing resources across multiple offices is to rethink the way you do workforce planning. It’s not that you’re incapable of planning properly, it’s that the systems and tools you have in place for the process aren’t built to handle the complexity of workforce planning for construction. It’s as if you’re trying to drill a hole with a hammer. You may be able to make some kind of hole, but it’s definitely not as precise and effective as what you would’ve made with a drill.
Luckily, there are tools like Bridgit Bench created to solve the problems that come along with workforce planning in construction. With Bridgit you’ll easily be able to track and adjust your workforce plan on the fly from anywhere within the tool.
For sharing resources across multiple offices you’ll need visibility on a few key areas and metrics. Once those are in place, sharing resources across offices and locations will be as easy as planning for your own location. Here’s a list of steps to start sharing:
- Tracking employees’ willingness to relocate: Before implementing a resource-sharing strategy, it’s essential to identify which employees are open to the idea of relocation. This can be achieved by conducting regular surveys, updating employee profiles, or simply having open conversations with team members. Knowing who is willing to relocate makes it easier to plan and execute resource-sharing initiatives. In Bridgit Bench you can create a profile for each person in your company so you can house this information and use it when it comes time to share.
- Visibility on labor shortages and surpluses: To effectively share labor across multiple offices, companies need to have a clear understanding of their workforce’s current distribution and utilization. This involves continuously monitoring labor demands and employee availability in each location.
- Communication between offices: Sharing resources requires seamless communication between different offices. There’s a Project Broadcast feature in Bridgit Bench that makes it easy to send messages to entire project teams. real-time. This way, managers from various locations can collaborate and make informed decisions about resource allocation.
- Visibility on regional projects across the organization: Construction companies need to maintain an updated overview of ongoing projects across all locations to make informed decisions about labor sharing. In Bridgit Bench you can sort your projects and people by groups to get a comprehensive view of all projects, their current status, and which region they’re in. This information can help identify opportunities for resource-sharing and enable better coordination between offices.
- Implement a robust resource-sharing policy: To ensure that sharing labor across multiple offices is successful, companies should develop a clear policy outlining the expectations, responsibilities, and processes involved. This policy should address issues such as relocation expenses, duration of assignments, and employee benefits. Having a well-defined policy in place helps to manage employee expectations and minimize potential conflicts.
- Employee support and training: To make resource-sharing a success, companies must provide adequate support and training to employees who are relocating. This can include cultural sensitivity training, assistance with housing, and orientation programs to help employees settle into their new environments. Supporting employees during the relocation process ensures a smoother transition and helps maintain productivity.
- Regularly evaluate and adjust the strategy: Sharing labor across multiple locations is an ongoing process that requires regular evaluation and adjustment. Companies should monitor the effectiveness of their resource-sharing initiatives, gather feedback from employees and managers, and make necessary adjustments to improve the process. This will ensure that the strategy remains relevant and effective in addressing labor needs across the organization.
Sharing labor across multiple locations shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a simple and essential part of your planning process. Before we go, here’s a quote from Ed McCauley, VP of Innovation at Wohlsen about how Bridgit Bench helped them support each other across different locations:
“Fast-forward from last year to this year, our utilization is exceeding what our target metrics are… We have someone here in Pennsylvania that’s supporting a project in Connecticut now, and that’s not something that would’ve traditionally happened. Since we have full organizational insight, we’re able to do that in a far more effective way.”
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