By Claire James, head of client services and built environment specialist, Skout
The construction industry is about to go through its most transformative phase for decades with the introduction of the Building Safety Act. These changes are driven by the still unfolding story of Grenfell, the public outcry, and the substandard building materials and practices used on this structure that led to a tragic loss of life.
The resulting Building Safety Act (BSA) will see the Health and Safety Executive take on overall responsibility for ensuring the safety of all buildings in the UK under the new Building Safety Regulator (BSR). In this blog we outline the implications for the built environment sector and five strategies to consider in the wake of the BSA.
Five strategies to consider
Many of our clients in the built environment sector are still coming to terms with what the BSA will mean for them in terms of daily operations and just what overall impact it will have in the sector as different parts of the act lead to many secondary legislation regulations. Peter Baker, the chief inspector of buildings, has already stated that the new regulatory bodies formed under the BSR, will require “much more from the designer, the contractor and the developer, to demonstrate that they have the wherewithal and the systems to build a safe and good-quality building, and they’ll have to demonstrate that to the new regulator before they can do anything.”
The keyword here is “demonstrate.” While demonstrating these things firstly involves proven compliance with regulation, clear demonstration of capability to wider audiences and stakeholders through effective communication is also crucial. The difficult background to the changes in progress can make it seem sensible to shy away from talking about your capability, when this is in many ways what customers, partners and even employees want to and need to know.
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For our clients in this sector, the BSA represents an opportunity, not just commercially by keeping one step ahead of the competition in terms of skills and competency, but also in terms of communication. There is a lot of supposition going on in the industry right now and what people want is a degree of certainty. Our clients such as the ACAI, Assent Building Control and Copping Joyce, have been spearheading some of the thought leadership in the sector around how businesses can prepare themselves for the changes that are clearly ahead.
Research has been a great tool to use to understand the current situation in the broader construction sector and this is how the ACAI (Association of Consultant Approved Inspectors) gained insight into just how little is understood about what the BSA and the new regulator will mean to the industry. Those companies that are at the cutting edge of change have a duty to pass on their knowledge and insight to others and this is exactly the type of communications programmes that we have been working on over the last six months.
Five strategies to consider at a time of change
1. Stay ahead of the curve
If you have industry insight and people in your business who are well respected, a thought leadership programme that puts you ahead of your competition and sets out your clear views on the situation will help to get you noticed.
2. Keep the message consistent
Ensure you’re saying the same thing across all your marketing channels, whether paid, earned, shared or owned. Consistency at a time of uncertainty is key
3. Bring your senior leadership team on the journey
Everyone within the business needs to be communicating in the same way. In the built environment it’s crucial that communication with clients is accurate, fast and consistent. All of your senior leadership team need to be fully briefed on the party line and then ensure that this is followed by the teams they are responsible for. This includes sharing relevant materials on LinkedIn, which has become an incredible platform for information sharing
4. Keep in touch with the broader industry
Although it’s good to be one step ahead, being a lone voice can be challenging. Stay in touch with industry opinion by talking to other industry leaders and organisations that will help you to understand if a change is needed
5. Ensure you communicate in a crisis
With stronger regulation in place it’s important to mitigate risk not only in your business practices but also how you would communicate your position should you be involved in a crisis situation in the future.
What is heartening to see is that change does not always have to be met with resistance. Change can be, and almost certainly is in this instance, a force for good. And communicating your positive role in that change can help to support a company’s position as a leading authority in its industry.