Covid-19 and the Construction Industry
Dr. Hermann Gruenwald
What started in Wuhan China in a market or in a lab in December 2019 soon
became known as the Covid-19 virus, which changed all our lives forever. The U.S.A.
construction industry since the declaration of the national emergency on 13 March 2020.
Social distancing was the first answer and became the standard solution worldwide. While
social distancing is easier in some industries and has led to total shutdowns in other
industries. For the construction industry which is very much a hands-on business social
distancing was difficult to implement when working outdoors in close proximity to each
other. Working from home (WFH) was not an option in the construction industry unless
you are in project management. In some countries like Thailand, construction sites were
shut down for months. The construction industry often relies on transient guest workers
from neighboring countries like Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar who were locked up at
the construction camps. In other countries manual labor got replaced by machines even
more and workers remained in the cabs of their construction machinery. Travel
restrictions in Germany for instance also made it impossible for guest workers from
Eastern European countries to return to Germany to work on construction projects which
were already underway. On the other side, the covid crisis also limited the flow of funds.
The delays jeopardized and even killed entire projects which became too difficult to
complete under the new government regulations and too expensive to finance with the
increasing delays. Global Supply chain interruptions also caused large projects to be
postponed or killed altogether. Even single-family housing projects faced shortages of
materials and staff. Not to mention hygiene requirements while wearing safety equipment
were difficult to implement and reduced work efficiency adding to extra expenses. Job
sites were inspected more often than ever before. Home improvement stores such as
Home Depot and Lowes were among the first ones allowed to reopen during the covid-
19 crisis. In Germany, building material stores (Baumarkt) were treated as essential
retailers the same as supermarkets. Health risks and project risks were competing against
each other and the health risks won, in the new politically correct world the world went
crazy about Covid-19 looking for a vaccine as the silver bullet against the vaccine while
we still don’t have medicine to stop the common cold. Also, site visits and observations
by project managers became more difficult. Jobsite cameras became more and more
popular. Some international companies applied methods previously only used in
restricted job sites such as penitentiaries, warzones, and religious sites like Mecca. New
AI solutions allowed construction managers to observe the job site virtually. Virtual
working environments are applied to the physically built environment. The digital divide
made a big difference for construction companies and construction managers and
developers, those who embraced digital technology early were among the winners and
prepared well even for the New Normal past Covid-19, in the new normal we have those
developers and construction companies which can deal with the new requirements and
those who simply shut the project down or went out of business altogether.
Architecture, construction management, construction industry, Covid-19
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October 2022. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.24514.04808
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Project: Management Information Systems (MIS) in Asia
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May 2022. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.15122.73924
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DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.28646.70724 Project: Corona & Collateral Damage
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February 2022. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.11622.09285
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DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.16717.36320. Project: Corona & Collateral Damage
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DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.23241.47201. Project: Corona & Collateral Damage
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DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.21401.54883. Project: Corona & Collateral Damage
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Responding to Covid-19 for Homeschooling and Homeoffice. 5th International
Multiconference of Management Science (IMMS) 2021 “International Conference on
Business Sustainability and Digital Transformation” Faculty of Management Science,
Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, Bangkok, July 29, 2021
Gruenwald, Hermann (2021). Covid-19 and Education Innovation & Technology.
July 2021. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.18647.80804 Project: Corona & Collateral Damage
Gruenwald, Hermann (2021). Covid-19 and The New Normal in Global Supply Chain
Management. July 2021. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.16897.99683 Project: Corona &
Gruenwald, Hermann (2021). Covid-19 and Timeshare Vacation Rentals. June 2021.
DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.13007.82087 Project: Corona & Collateral Damage
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10.13140/RG.2.2.28056.52486. Project: Corona & Collateral
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DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.32677.63200. Project: Corona & Collateral Damage
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10.13140/RG.2.2.23238.40004 Project: Corona & Collateral Damage
Gruenwald, Hermann (2020). Parcel Delivery Services boom during Covid-19. August
2020. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.35180.18569. Project: Logistics in Asia
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2020. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.32199.11686 Project: Disaster Logistics
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June 2015. Journal of Social and Development Sciences Vol 6(2):57-66.
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June 2014. Information Management and Business Review Vol 6(2).
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