The pandemic has disrupted ideas around how organisations build a positive culture – and what employees need to perform well.

 Elizabeth Kavanagh, PCSG’s Senior People and Change Consultant, explores why in the built environment particularly, we must be laser-focused on the ‘people’ aspects of how we work.

Empowering for employees or a curse for collaboration?

Whatever your belief, the pandemic and the new ways of working it unleashed, has significantly disrupted assumptions about how to build a positive organisational culture.

In construction, as digital processes and techniques have advanced, all too often the ‘people’ aspect of change has been overlooked in favour of the ‘process’ and ‘technology’.

Yet a strong, thriving and positive culture, is the lynchpin of a successful company – and critical to performance in so many areas, from recruiting talent, to retaining staff and productivity.

In AEC particularly – where digital transformation programmes are so often hindered by barriers relating to culture and mindset – now is a pertinent time to focus anew on how we remove those barriers and build the cultures and mindsets which will enable  transformations to succeed.

This year, for the first time, Digital Construction Week will include amongst its various stages, a “People and Change” theatre.

The theatre, where I will be presenting, has been launched in acknowledgement of the lack of focus still given to this area.

Speakers from across the AEC sector will provide advice and share their experiences on how to effectively manage the cultural aspects within both organisations and project delivery.

Over the two days (November 24th and 25th), we’ll hear talks including:

  • Attracting Gen Z: – What happens when a ‘born digital’ generation meets the construction industry?  (Tim Davies, Senior Digital Engineer, Bylor Joint Venture)
  • Neurodiverse in a digital world (Kirsti Wells, Business Development Manager, Cadcoe)
  • How are you and your team behaving? (Jill Clancy, Director, Jill Clancy Ltd)

I’ll be presenting on “How do I create a culture which enables change?” I will draw on my experience working with organisations and project teams across sectors including nuclear, to help build understanding of how to engage with people and manage change to ensure successful outcomes.

It will be an interactive session where the audience will be invited to share ideas and observations.

People and projects

The vital role of people within major project delivery was further underlined recently by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority. In an update to its Project Routemap, it included new material around the need to consider the “people” elements as the foundation for successful delivery of capital programmes.

It stresses the importance of key questions such as:

  • How are the desired behaviours and culture promoted in the project?
  • How is the project planning to build relationships and invest in creating the right environment to realise project outcomes?
  • Does the project have a culture that empowers constructive challenge and diversity of thought?

I look forward to seeing how, together, we can further explore these areas at Digital Construction Week. Hope to see you there.

To learn more about PCSG’s work supporting organisations to deliver transformation programmes through alternative approaches which frequently involve changes in mindsets, cultures and behaviours, please contact