How to Communicate Effectively in a High Noise Construction Setting

How to Communicate Effectively in a High Noise Construction Setting

Construction sites are almost always noisy. With all that is going on, when a site goes silent, it almost seems odd, like something is out of place or misaligned. As standard as noise is at a construction site, it is a minor miracle that any communication gets accomplished once the first machine or piece of equipment gets fired up.

Yet, communication on a construction site is vital to ensuring everything is properly done. Communication is critical to keeping employees safe, making sure every employee knows what they are supposed to be doing, coordinating any changes in the construction plan, and working out both schedules, logistics, and budgets on site.

The following tips, such as virtual reality tools, can improve your construction site communications to ensure nothing gets lost in the noise, shuffle, or chaos.

Use All Communications Tools

Never rule out some form of communicating just because you are unfamiliar with it or it is new.

For example, more and more architects and construction managers are using virtual reality tools to get an idea of ​​the final product and facilitate day-to-day operations. In a high noise construction setting, virtual reality maps out a finished design, checks out views and tries to identify flow issues, like dead space.

Another “new” tool for construction sites are virtual meeting platforms to get multiple parties in a meeting even if they are not in the same room. Combined with virtual reality, these platforms can be powerful methods of helping to illustrate design concepts, building needs, and challenges to all involved in a project.

Use Wireless

Another tool that many industries have discovered has more applications than expected is wireless communications. That allows two or more parties to communicate instantly, which can be invaluable on a busy and noisy jobsite. For example, consider a case where a client has requested a new project design be modified.

It used to be that the project or construction manager coordinated with the client or their representatives and tried to get everyone involved together. If that was not possible, the manager relayed messages between parties and coordinated a response to the request or a way to accommodate their needs. At the very least, that approach was unwieldy. Often, it led to major delays in completing the project, particularly if a needed subcontractor for the change had moved on to something else. With wireless communications, each party participates in meetings to discuss adjustments or alternative avenues. Wireless also helps managers coordinate the work of subcontractors. By answering questions in real-time, work that might have been delayed waiting for an answer gets resolved almost immediately.

Set Up a Communication Chain

Routing information properly without wasting time is key to construction management. During a typical day, the following are some of the communications that might take place:

Providing daily instructions to a work crew.

Coordinating materials purchasing.

Arranging for equipment, contractors, and subs to be present.

Addressing customer questions and concerns.

Managing the work and ensuring it adheres to quality assurance standards.

Lunch break planning.

Each requires a communications process with appropriate staff to get the correct decisions made promptly. Of course, at a construction site, they all bring a cacophony of attention-grabbing noise, making accurate relays of messages a challenge.

Asking, for example, an employee questions about the design or materials to be used wastes both parts’ time. Likewise, having the project manager coordinate lunch breaks wastes money and time.

Why It Matters

A hierarchy in communications processes ensures that conversations or decisions that need to happen or decisions are made by the right people. In a construction setting, supervisors and skilled construction personnel all need to be on the same level to ensure accuracy, productivity and site safety.

A properly set up communications hierarchy enables all information and communications to be controlled properly. Everyone likes to believe in the ideal of a free flow of information, but the reality is that, sometimes, communication control is necessary. That is especially the case if the environment does not lend itself to long discussions, like a loud construction site.

Be Clear and Concise

A high noise construction site is not an ideal environment for long conversations or messages. Sure, the more information the better, but any communications reflect the reality of a mission-critical setting like a construction site.

When you formulate messages for employees, make sure the message is as brief as possible, including only information that is necessary to understand the intent of the message. To aid this, avoid using jargon or overly technical language.

If, for example, the customer modified an agreed-upon choice in trim, all you need to relay to your staff is what the customer wanted, employee goals and expectations and the timeframe for completion. This type of conciseness works with employees and customers because it is based on the premise of controlling information to facilitate decision-making.

Create Quality Checks

Quality checks are a necessary fact of life on any construction site. In many cases, a construction process or work will not be signed off on until it has passed the minimum quality thresholds for that particular task or project. No matter the size of the project, every construction job has some quality check before final signoff.

Your communications at a high-noise site should be no different. When you relay a message, you should feel confident the person receiving it understood what you were trying to relay. You should also be able to track all work and changes easily. That means implementing documentation processes, as well as taking notes during meetings. Doing so will streamline communication in even the noisiest setting and improve its overall clarity.

Communications on construction sites are becoming more and more technologically advanced. Some even use virtual reality and video conferencing on-site to help coordinate work. Of course, you need to have the basics mapped out. By doing so, you can maintain effective communication no matter how loud the construction.

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