2019 CSCE Annual Conference - Laval (Greater Montreal)

2019 CSCE Annual Conference - Laval (Greater Montreal) Conference

What Do People Like and Dislike About Construction Work? Views to Consider When Designing and Implementing Technology

Return to Session

Mrs. Katherine Welfare, University of Colorado at Boulder (Presenter)
Dr. Matthew Hallowell, University of Colorado
Dr. Fred Sherratt, Anglia Ruskin University

Development and integration of technology into construction is a robust field of study. Much of this research is focused on the feasibility of technology and its impact on improving project performance via enhanced safety, productivity, and quality. As technologies are considered, it is important to understand the preferences of construction workers and to ensure that positive attributes for the job are preserved and negative attributes of the work are avoided or mitigated. To better understand the preferences of construction workers, 108 interviews were conducted with workers on active commercial construction sites in Colorado. Workers were asked basic open-ended questions about their jobs and their perceptions of integrating emerging technologies into their work including questions such as why they chose the construction industry, what they enjoy and dislike about their jobs, and how they think technology could benefit them. Questions were purposely general and open to enable the use of discourse analysis and social constructivism, which allowed the researchers to preserve the richness of the discussion by documenting how different constructs were discussed. The results indicate that workers most enjoy task variety, seeing tangible and immediate results, social interaction, movement and exercise, autonomy, problem solving, and working with their hands. Conversely, the attributes most discussed in a negative way were health and safety issues, feeling rushed, paperwork, and repetition.

Additionally, workers felt that added technology would affect work pace, accuracy, productivity and efficiency and some noted that there was a concern that technology could be a distraction or possible safety hazard in the construction environment. Interestingly, the analysis revealed generational differences in the perceptions of technology. For example, the older generation prefers paper drawings while the younger generation favors using electronic drawings. The aging workforce shows a resistance to change while the younger generation is more receptive to change. The results from this research can be used when designing and implementing technology in construction. Researchers and practitioners can ensure that the positive attributes of work are enhanced and negative attributes are diminished. Further, it is helpful to understand worker perceptions before introducing technology to allow for strategic communication and roll-out that increases the likelihood and enthusiasm of adoption. Future research is needed to increase external validity through better geographic and cultural representation.