On Thursday, CIPS was involved in a Zoom Webinar hosted by Nick Brown of Ashridge Surveyors which was a departure from previous sessions which had been more of a ‘lecture style’ format covering a specific topic. This session was a Round Table Discussion and participants were invited to present a panel of industry professionals with questions, any questions, related to the Construction Industry. There was a total of 20 participants, including several students, on the call and in an hour and half, 3 ‘experts’ responded to 15 questions.
Participants were asked to introduce themselves in the Chat box to establish who was on the call and each query was adroitly directed by Nick Brown (with the deft skills of a Welsh flyhalf of the old school era), using the handy chat function, to the relevant professional for their thoughts, advice and knowledge, a format which worked smoothly and without hiccup and even Francis didn’t complain of too many ‘hospital passes’.
Panel members were Rebecca Janman of Shore (Approved Building Inspectors), Robert Wallbank of RWA Consulting (Structural Engineers) and CIPS Director Francis McPeake (Project Management, Cost Consultancy, Contract Administration, Dispute Resolution). Other professionals on the call were also called on to provide advice in their relevant fields.
Several questions related to the current crisis as expected, such as “Can Contractors stop works due to Covid-19 without contractual implications?” and “Will the commercial property industry fall flat after Coronavirus?” but the majority were actually more general queries such as “What defects would you expect to find in a house built in the 1970’s?”; “What does a Viability Report for Planning entail?”; “Will the stay-put policy stay in place after Grenfell?” and “What is the difference between Arbitration and Litigation?”.
There has been much written about whether Covid 19 could potentially shift working patterns once the crisis is over as, employees who have had to work remotely over this period have been pleasantly surprised that being at home has its benefits. Employers have also seen that travelling long distances to meet one person could be seen as time, and money, wasted when the meeting could be held online.
But is online networking a substitute for actual human contact? Or is it a good starting point for establishing contact which can be taken further in person?