How to ‘Miscommunicate’ Better on Construction Projects

The title of this post is not a typo, in case you were wondering.

No, I was having a conversation the other day with a guy after work. We were talking about communication on construction projects. Pretty broad topic. But he works in the field 50-60 hours a week in New York City. I wanted to know what his gripes were. I wanted to know what it was like being an army of one in a sense, while also very much relying on the rest of his project team—boots on the ground and every floor—to execute a really friggin’ hard construction job. He cracked a smile, and I figured a good story was coming — the kind of story everyone from the foreman plumber to the project engineer has told someone at one point or another. It turned out to be pretty simple:

“You know what it is? It’s the way we talk to each other. We’re human. I ask a guy ‘Where’s that panel?’ He says ‘Downstairs’. Downstairs, really? We’re on the 70th floor. I ask someone else where the panel is and they say ‘First floor’. First floor? I have ¾ of an acre view from here. Where on the first floor?”

This type of miscommunication is exactly the problem FieldLens sets out to solve
. (Because our founders and coaches had the same conversation when they worked in the field.)

With FieldLens you can create an observation (a note), task, punch list or safety item in a few seconds from your phone or iPad by dropping a pin on a drawing or picking a project-specific location from a list your team has set up — as specific as First floor → Area B → Lobby → Men’s Restroom. Tap the location on your phone. Drop a pin on your iPad. Add a picture or video. Done. Miscommunication never happened. No one’s time is wasted. But that’s not exactly the point.

If you’ve ever heard someone applaud a married couple because they “fight well” you know what the point is. It’s to help you communicate—and when you miscommunicate, to miscommunicate—better.

Construction software shouldn’t change the way guys in the field talk to each other. That’s not going to happen, and it shouldn’t. The construction industry is one of the self-reported happiest workforces out there. It’s about humans getting together to do work that’s hard, dirty, and demanding. You have to talk and make each other laugh to forget how hard, dirty and demanding it is.

The guy can still say it’s downstairs to your face. He can still describe something exactly the way he wants to in a story. The information you exchange as a team should be fast and consistent enough to ensure that the detailed answer you need is there in your hands, and available in seconds. And that the whole project team is looking at exactly the same live list of communication and activity. So nothing slows the team up from getting work done, and so that the work gets done right the first time.

Construction apps should help you communicate and miscommunicate better, so you can keep building and being human.

Image © Volt Collection/Shutterstock