Measuring productivity in construction is especially difficult due to the nature of production in the industry and the limitations of available data. Statistically, delivering productivity in construction and delivering the built environment more productively can be very different things. For example, it is possible that delivering buildings more productively might reduce measured construction productivity.
Better buildings and infrastructure contribute to productivity not just through their primary function or by increasing economic output, but by making people happier, safer and healthier, benefits which are often overlooked.
We believe there needs to be better measures of construction to support the industry’s productivity as well as a better evidence base on the wider value of construction. This could be achieved through more accurate data collection by government, the use of post occupancy evaluations and redefining what we mean by good value.
One method that many believe will improve construction’s productivity is the use of emerging technologies and greater prefabrication. This is, in part, potentially true. But it is important to note that activities such as these fall outside of that which is currently defined as ‘construction’ by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The improved productivity that these methods offer will not be reflected in the productivity data for construction, rather falling in manufacturing and services. Additionally, the construction work (as defined by the ONS) that is being carried out by the industry might be repair, maintenance and improvement work, which, by its nature, is heavily labour intensive. This work requires more input for less output which could lead to less productivity in the sector and potentially more criticisms of construction’s role in improving productivity.
Importantly, construction has a key and unique role in improving not only its own productivity but that in other industries.
We have published a report into improving productivity in the built environment, which sets out a series of recommendations for how the industry can improve its productivity and how data can be utilised to showcase the true value that the sector can bring.
We have policy positions that cover a wide range of key issues affecting the construction industry.