What’s a Contractor to Do…with COVID19?

Tips for contractors on surviving a COVID-19 economy

OK, you have heard all the same prevention steps I’ve heard regarding slowing down and eventually stopping this incredible virus that has seemingly taken over the world.  I’m not being sarcastic, the more I learn about this incredible “enemy,” it’s no wonder that our political leaders, including our president, have called this time, a war.

But what sort of war do we want to fight?  If we want to fight a war such as the Vietnam War, or more recently, the “war” in Afghanistan, are we willing to stretch this COVID-19 War some eight, 10, even 12 years or more?  Instead, do we want to go the route of the war with Iraq, when in less than almost a few days, General Norman Schwarzkopf led the U.S Troops to completely take out the Iraqi military?

Well, as contractors, we don’t fight wars of the kind mentioned above.  But we have a war of sorts in battling against the potential that customer might hold back a bit from making business decisions about maintaining their property.  Let’s take a few steps toward addressing this reality for many contractors, who are simply trying to keep their companies alive during this questionable time period.

1.     Remember, Many Customers Have Moved to Working Remotely

Many organizations have recommended, if not required, their workers to work remotely from their home.  For contractors, this might mean that the  property manager, who hasn’t been to their office in one or more weeks, is still answering the phone.  Don’t stop the calling…they are simply doing more of their work via their cell phone, Skype, Facetime, etc.

2.      Look to Keep Your Own Workers Healthy…Practice Smart Healthy Guidelines

Since most states, to date, appear to be including construction as an essential service, this doesn’t mean that suddenly our entire industry is completely immune from the virus.  As much as possible, put the 5-10 people in a confined area into practice, encourage the guys not to stand right over other workers, wash the hands, etc.  If your workers complain about symptoms that eerily sound like the flu, or the COVID-19 Virus…get them to stay home, if not get tested.  You simply can’t take the chance that one, or more workers, might have the virus and stand the chance to infect others.  No workers…no work!

3.      Keep a Vigilant Watch Over Workers in the Critical Categories

Any of your workers, office or field, who fit any of the “at risk” descriptions, be extra cautious about their working.  Older employees, and our industry still has many, those in the mid-to-late sixties (and up), are easy to address.  However, even some of our younger workers, should they have serious ailments, such as asthma, can be at great risk if they get the virus.  As we know, our industry has its share of workers, some whom have not taken great care of themselves over the years.  Such past behavior will not miraculously change now; encourage all your workers to “cool it” on the drinking, smoking, partying, etc. as these efforts can put them, and others at risk.

4.      Remind Customers that Your Crews are “Essential”

Some of your customers may actually think that since they are down, that you are too.  Call them and let them know that there is a reason why most state government, modeling the national focus, have deemed construction as an essential, therefore, an allowed industry to work.  Why?  Because maintaining the infrastructure and costs associated with construction is less expensive now, than waiting another year to fix cracks, deteriorating parking lots, badly fading handicap parking markers, etc.  Plus, with our 90% of our work, or higher, being completed outside, the risk to catch the virus is greatly reduced due to our workers being spread out across a job site.

Stay atop of the warnings and guidelines that our health professionals put out.  Unless you have a medical background, demonstrate prudent decision making in how you treat your workers and how the public views your own behavior.  This is not the time to be cavalier, stepping out and taking unneeded risks.  The potential consequences are simply too high.

If ever the term “Work Smart” fit a time, that time is now!

Work Smart…and Wash Your Hands!