After the chaos and tragedy of 2020, what will the next phase of construction bring? Will the world lean into working from home and embrace remote culture with more residential projects – or will we see a new generation of workplaces built with the legacy of the pandemic still fresh in our minds?

The Next Normal

Valley Trading and our partners continued safe, socially distanced operations through the pandemic, supporting the construction industry. The so-called “new normal” of strict hygiene, personal space rules, facemasks and testing is very quickly becoming routine. 

What’s next for normality?

Well, project and site safety protocols probably won’t change in our region for 2021, given the vaccination timeline. It could stretch into 2022 or beyond if unknown variants of the virus emerge that the vaccine can’t stop. For the foreseeable future (probably the rest of 2021), sites will be worked on the same way they are now; remote meetings, small teams on site and prompt testing and isolation for anyone with symptoms.

But what about the projects themselves?

Changing Workplaces

Commercial projects are factoring in the new way in which many businesses have come to work. Social distancing is being built into architects’ design language – sanitisation and contact tracing stations are even being prescribed as part of new designs.

Increasingly, more people are now working from home and some companies have scrapped their plans to return altogether. Has there been a shift from commercial projects to residential as a result?

Seemingly, no – the upward trend in residential construction projects had kicked in long before the pandemic. But the new builds cropping up today are better suited to remote workers, more often with studies and office spaces included as standard, or with small bedrooms marketed as offices.

With the state of property prices and stamp duty cuts, moving in a pandemic has been a viable option for key segments of society – and choosing a property with a “work from home” space has been a priority for many of them.

We expect to see more home office space, reassuring commercial designs and an online-focus to retail services in 2021 – and long after the echoes of the pandemic have faded.

Keeping Local

The geopolitical landscape changed in 2021, too – and the year began with a few supply chain hiccups as new requirements for border crossing and freight came into play. For construction materials, tools and equipment, keeping supplies local could be a big deal this year.

Local supply usually means higher costs – but that might not be the case if supply, demand and the wider economy are considered. Speed of delivery and traceability could be far more important to construction projects at this stage, too, with firms looking to avoid further setbacks and delays.

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