How the COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Construction Work Life

Hunter, Hayden, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Franco Duran, Diana, EN-Engr Sys & Environment, University of Virginia
O'malley, Matthew, EN-Engr Sys & Environment, University of Virginia

The emergence of the COVID-19 virus led to a worldwide pandemic affecting virtually
every industry. The construction industry was one of those that was impacted significantly and
whose repercussions are still felt at present. Construction companies were forced to implement
new technologies and strategies in order to combat these challenges induced by pandemic.
The technical aspect of the paper discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the
construction industry in the United States, with a specific focus on the construction of the
Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) on Brandon Avenue. The pandemic caused issues
with the supply chain, worker availability, and safety, leading to delays, increased costs, and
reduced productivity. The paper explores the changes in construction methods and technologies
that emerged in response to the pandemic and examines the potential for further technological
innovations to minimize the impact of future global events on the industry. The technical aspect
of the paper involves an analysis of data from the SHWC project to understand how the
pandemic affected labor productivity. To address this issue, our team developed a prototype
application to streamline communication and data for construction projects.
The STS aspect of the paper examines the role of technological innovation in shaping the
construction industry’s response to the pandemic. The research methods used were a literature
review and interviews with various industry professionals. Using Actor Network Theory, the
relationship between technology introduced during the pandemic and construction industry
workers can be analyzed. I found that the employment status of the construction industry worker
dictated the technological innovation’s effect on their well-being. Workers who had the
opportunity of keeping their job during the pandemic were aided by the new technologies and
strategies implemented. On the other hand, workers’ well-being of those who lost employment in
the industry was negatively impacted. In concert with the technical aspect of the paper, these
research topics are significant because both shed light on our responsibility of innovating
technology in ways that improve individuals’ well-being.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Sponsoring Agency:
Barton Malow
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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