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Rates of wellbeing improve across the board
- with no negative impact on budget or deadline -
Wednesday 23 June, 2021: Timewise (Timewise.co.uk), the flexible working consultants, today publish the results of their ground-breaking Timewise Construction Pioneers programme – an 18 month project that has re-designed shift patterns in onsite roles, to enable more flexible working, enhanced wellbeing and improved work-life balance.
Four of the UK’s largest construction companies took part: BAM Construct, BAM Nuttall, Skanska UK and Willmott Dixon. Collectively they employ around 11,000 people1.
The pilots ran between June 2020 and February 2021, through the pandemic.
Timewise tested whether it is possible to improve the wellbeing of those working on site through changing the hours and times of working, as well as considering home-based working where possible.
The goal was to identify if this was possible to achieve without budgets or deadlines being affected, across a range of sites and projects. The pilots took place in a range of locations, from an HS2 site in London through to a substation build near Weston Super Mare, amongst teams employing between 14 and 120 workers.
Build UK partnered with Timewise on the programme, and The Construction Industry Training Board and Barclays LifeSkills supported its rollout.
Over 3m people work in the UK construction sector contributing 9% of the economy.2
It is hoped that flexible working can help address a range of issues within the sector:
Timewise used a system it has developed for location-based roles which need to cover a long working day – which it calls the ‘shift-life balance’ model. It tested different types of flexible working7 across the different sites:
There was a broad positive shift in wellbeing, with many workers speaking of improvements to their family life and sense of wellbeing.
Some stated that they would consider the ability to work flexibly as a key criteria when applying for future jobs. Managers reported a greater sense of trust, ownership and a better team dynamic.
All the Pioneer firms reported no negative impact on budgets or timeframes. Some data suggests adjustments to working patterns could drive savings on labour costs due to enhanced productivity.
Furthermore, the project achieved the following8:
The full results can be read in Timewise’s report: “Making Construction a great place to work – can flexible working help?’.
Timewise has produced a 10-point toolkit for other employers that wish to follow suit, and is recommending that the Construction Leadership Council endorse the fact that enabling flexible working in construction is critical to:
Emma Stewart MBE, director of development at Timewise, says: “This programme has proved, beyond doubt, that flexible working can work even in complex site-based industries such as construction. In a sector that is all about overcoming challenge with innovation, perhaps that should be no surprise. Our trailblazing Pioneers: BAM Construct, BAM Nuttall, Skanska UK and Willmott Dixon have shown that wellbeing and balance should be possible to achieve for the whole workforce – not just those in office roles. And in doing so have provided a blueprint that we hope will drive wider industry change. Working practices no longer need to be a block to attracting the best and most diverse possible talent. Our thanks also go to Build UK for its vision and foresight in catalysing this unique project.”
Suzannah Nichol MBE, chief executive of Build UK, says: “Flexible working has enabled me to continue my career in construction for over 30 years, and this report will help others to do the same. Our industry offers a fantastic range of opportunities, and Timewise and our pioneers have proved that flexible working is possible, even for site-based teams. By sharing what works, we can help companies across the sector create the working environment that will attract and retain a diverse workforce, making construction a positive career choice for everyone. It’s a win-win, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.”
Harvey Francis, executive vice president at Skanska UK, says:
“We’re delighted to have partnered with Build UK and others to successfully deliver this important piece of work. Skanska UK is committed to improving access to flexible working for our site-based workers, and outcomes from Timewise have assisted in the development of our own flexible working programme, Flex-it.”
Andrea Singh, Executive and HR Director for BAM Construct UK, says:
“Our new approach to flexible working is giving people a better work-life balance and is making construction an attractive career choice. Thanks to this pioneering work, our managers are thinking differently and that’s making a real improvement to people’s lives. We now ask, ‘how can we make flexibility work?’ and not, ‘can we make it work?’. Managers are finding flexible approaches that work for their team and clients.”
Adrian Savory, CEO for BAM Nuttall says:
“Our involvement in the Timewise flexible working trial aligns with our focus to support our people to be at their best, and create inclusive environments which attract a wider diversity of people into the industry. The results of the pilots have demonstrated flexibility for operational roles is possible, and has been a win, win, win – for the business, teams and improving individual’s wellbeing. We have started implementing the approach across the whole of our business. And it’s encouraging to see people having conversations that wouldn’t have been possible without these results and the clear guidance for a successful approach. Over the past 18 months our industry adapted the way we work to continue keeping key workers moving, essential products on shelves and supply renewable power and clean water to homes and businesses, and this year has proved to us all that, together, we can do things so differently when we collaborate cross-industry – and do them more safely, sustainably, healthily and inclusively for all.”
Rick Lee, chief people officer at Willmott Dixon said:
“We are delighted to have participated in the flexible working pilot led by Timewise. The scheme has allowed us to progress our pre-existing agile working programme and has helped us develop our knowledge and skills to enable our people, whether they have a site or office based role, to achieve a greater work/life balance.”
“Across our business we have a deep-rooted philosophy that our people make the difference and that our culture is critical to providing an environment where all our people can thrive and enjoy the career of a lifetime. Being able to embed a successful approach to agile working at our sites is critical for achieving a diverse business and realising our aim to achieve gender parity across our workforce by 2030.”
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Jo Burkill:
t: 0207 633 4553 m: 07960 472 097
1 Total number of employees at: BAM Construct, BAM Nuttall, Willmott Dixon and Skanska UK, based on figures given in June 2021.
3 Assessment by HPC and Duradiamond Healthcare, as published in The Guardian, August 2019: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/13/no-more-man-up-better-mental-health-hinkley-point-c
4 HSE Construction Statistics in GB, October 2018 https://457f2b39-509f-437e-9295-7de053dd6bf1.filesusr.com/ugd/2ea9a4_1123897588094d4db915a481782c15bc.pdf
5 https://workplaceinsight.net/culture-shifts-needed-to-drive-a-better-gender-balance-in-property-and-construction/ 6 Timewise Flexible Jobs Index, 2019
7 For a more in depth explanation of each pilot, see pages 19 & 20 of the new Timewise report INSERT LINK
8 Timewise conducted pre and post pilot surveys to measure shifts across some key indicators. To gain more qualitative insights, it also conducted focus groups with a selection of the participating workers, and interviews with a selection of managers and senior stakeholders.
Timewise (timewise.co.uk) are flexible working specialists running a flexible working consultancy that helps employers design innovative solutions to attract and retain talented people, and create fair workplaces.
The consultancy is part of a wider multi-award winning social business, that shares market insights on flexible working and flexible hiring, conducts research such as the annual Flexible Jobs Index and runs campaigns and advocates for change on the stigma surrounding part-time and flexible work. It also runs Timewise Jobs (timewisejobs.co.uk ), a national jobs board for roles that are part-time or open to flexibility.
About Build UK
Build UK is the leading representative organisation for the UK construction industry. Bringing together Clients, Contractors, Trade Associations representing a wide range of Specialist Contractors, and other organisations committed to industry collaboration, Build UK represents in excess of 40% of UK construction.
CITB is an arm’s-length body of the Department for Education and works to research the sector’s skills needs, fund training, and improve standards. It is paid for by a levy on the construction industry itself.