Key Takeaways from Yesterday’s COVID-19 & Construction Panel Discussion

Coronavirus and Construction Industry Discussion

There has been a ton of uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic that is currently shutting down the entire continental United States and the information seems to be changing by the minute. To help navigate your construction businesses through this mess, the team at Briq hosts an expert panel discussion yesterday titled “The War Room: A Construction Disaster Preparedness Panel.”

Moderated by the CEO of Briq, Bassem Hamdy, the panel featured:

  • Moti Jungreis, Vice Chair and Head of Global Markets, TD Securities

  • Cal Beyer, Vice President, Workforce Risk and Mental Well-being, Cobb Strecker Dunphy Zimmerman (CADZ)

  • James Benham, CEO, JBKnowledge

I want to give a brief overview of the discussions that took place, but you can watch the full replay of the hour long discussion on Briq’s website here: https://www.br.iq/the-war-room-panel

Overall Effect on the Economy

Jungreis led off the discussion by explaining the overall impact the pandemic has had on the economy so far, drawing comparisons to the post-9/11 recession and the 2008 housing collapse. He stressed that unlike those two events, the banks were in strong financial standing prior to the shutdowns and are “not going to walk away from credit lines.” He said that the difference between a deep recession versus a shallow depression will be the ability to help small businesses recover.

Learning from the Past

James Benham talked about his experiences navigating through the 2001 and 2008 downturns and stressed the need to trim non-essential expenses in order to retain critical staff through your hardest times. His number one rule of business is to just survive and to find a way to keep your business operating, which could mean pivoting into different, but related, work, like service work instead of new builds.

Working Remotely

Being a technology guru, Benham also shared insights on the best practices for working remotely and some readily available software to help get you through it. Programs like Microsoft Teams, Slack, WhatsApp, and Zoom will help keep your teams in productive communication while working remotely.  He says that his favorite app for internal meetings is Teams, whereas he prefers Zoom for external meetings.  WhatsApp is his favorite for mobile.

Lean On Your Peer Groups

Both Benham and Beyer talked about keeping in touch with your peer groups to help get navigate through hard times.  Using the software mentioned above, you don’t have to cancel in person meetings, just move to web meetings.  Use these peers to bounce ideas off of and gain valuable insights from their past experiences.

Employee Mental Health

Beyer discussed the challenges of dealing with the mental health of employees, who may be experiencing additional stress related to money or health.  He said that it’s pivotal for your company to exhibit a caring culture and to “recognize and acknowledge that these rapidly changing conditions are going to create stress and anxiety.” He also said that keeping communication lines open and developing a business continuity plan can help ease concerns.

Find the Opportunity

If you have set your company up for success by practicing fiscal conservatism, this economic downturn can prove fruitful if you know where to look.  Benham touched on his past experiences when he was able to hire key staff from other companies that laid them off, or find equipment at a great price.

Job Site Shutdowns

Attendees on the call expressed concern about potential job site shutdowns and Hamdy said that your company needs to be prepared for them.  Since the call happened, the Mayor of Boston had shut down all of the city’s construction projects citing a recent increase in Coronavirus cases. There may be more on the way, as the count continues to rise throughout the rest of the country.


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