By: Enda Crowley, Vice President, Team Leader
Over a year ago, the abrupt and unexpected changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic left companies in search of solutions for conducting business at a social distance. As a result, the construction industry has spent much of the past year researching and implementing solutions to meet the needs of our clients, during a time when so much is still unknown.
With much of the country’s workforce still working remotely after more than a year, employers are beginning to consider what a return to the office, or re-occupancy plan would look like for their company. At Clune, much of the important work to help bring people back to the office, is being performed by a department that has often operated under the radar – Clune’s Service Group.
More than Large Projects
Clune’s Service Group has been a core part of our company from early in the firm’s history. It was conceptualized by Founder, Mike Clune. Mike believed that Clune Construction should be able to fully service its clients through all of their construction needs – from full high-profile build-outs, to something as simple as changing a door handle.
In the early days, the Service Group would handle exactly that. Typical jobs included installing an outlet for a copy machine, or quick turnaround office conversions varying from “weekend specials” to two-to-three week construction schedules.
As the Service Group developed across the country, the team was able to take on larger projects due to the trust we developed with our clients. While the initial thought was that these projects would best serve our clients’ needs, the unexpected effect has been the increased ability to build and maintain relationships. These relationships have developed beyond the client, to the design teams, subcontractors and building management.
To streamline communications, the single point of contact on a service project is the project manager, rather than the entire project team. The project manager in some cases will work directly with the client’s office or facility manager, giving the feeling that they have an in-house construction professional. This approach has resulted in over half of Clune’s client base becoming repeat clients.
A Longstanding Partnership
Clune’s Service Group is extremely responsive, and is focused on establishing trust with each client, successfully completing any job, no matter how big or how small.
Over the years, our clients have benefitted from these smaller scale construction services that have allowed them to expand their business as their needs change and evolve. In the past year, Clune’s Service Group has assisted our clients as they adjusted to the rapid changes that have been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the pandemic began, Clune has also seen an increase in a design-build approach to smaller projects. Design-build is a method of project delivery where the design team and the construction manager work in tandem to plan a project with everyone’s input.
With everyone navigating the return-to-work environment for the first time together, developing and having trust in a construction manager is one of the greatest resources for a client. The Service Group’s clients trust them to price a job outside of the competitive bid environment and know they are still getting the best value.
Clune’s Service Group and Re-Occupancy
This is the time to take advantage of the fact that offices are still being under-utilized, or not utilized at all, to make improvements to prepare for employee’s eventual return. Making improvements now allows work to be completed without working around office schedules. The result is a quicker turnaround, leading to an overall cost savings.
In addition, the decrease in construction activity in 2020 has resulted in lower supplies of raw materials, such as sheetrock and steel. With construction activity picking up in 2021, we are seeing an increase in material demand, but availability of these materials has not yet caught up with the demand. This will result in increased construction material prices for the foreseeable future. Employers can help offset these costs by completing improvements on straight time, while employees are still mostly working remotely, which will result in decreased labor costs.
Clune’s Service Group is focused on quick, cost-effective, and impactful changes to our client’s environments to help their peace of mind about re-occupancy. We have worked with clients to add hands-free technology to minimize touch points; created divisible spaces with dividers/screens in congested areas; and installed sound-proof phone rooms for video or phone calls. In addition, we have installed a significant amount of way-finding and instructional signage; and replaced laminate with surfaces that are easier to disinfect.
It is often assumed that because Clune served as general contractor on many large, high profile build-outs that we do not perform smaller office modifications, refreshes or Day 2 work. Not only is Clune proud to perform this kind of work in all of our regions, but we consider our Service Group an essential part of our company’s growth. As our clients begin to look at bringing their employees back to the office, Clune is prepared to help them take this important next step.