The impact of COVID-19 on construction labor productivity: the case of Turkey
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CitationTekin, H. (2022). The impact of COVID-19 on construction labor productivity: the case of Turkey. Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, (ahead-of-print).
Purpose: The aim of this study is to measure the impact of the factors affecting construction labor productivity by focusing on different types of construction works during and after the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey, as well as discuss solutions and immediate actions. Design/methodology/approach: This research was conducted in two steps. First, a quantitative survey was carried out to determine the dimension of factors negatively affecting construction labor productivity and the loss rate of different construction works from the employee perspective. The factors were identified through a literature review. The crucial relationships were highlighted as a result of a statistical analysis. Second, a survey was performed to determine the loss rate through a comparison of man-hour values before and after the beginning of the pandemic from the employer perspective. After an analysis and comparison of the results, semi-structured interviews were performed to discuss all findings and discover ways to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on construction labor productivity. Findings: The results of the study clearly show that construction labor productivity was deeply affected by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Legal obligations, such as social distancing, wearing masks, and limitations on the number of workers, have been major drivers for lower labor productivity. Such obligations have a profound impact on interior construction works, especially based on teamwork. Concerning employer and labor-related factors, problems with getting payments on time, loss of income, and financial hardships are the leading factors resulting in decreased worker performance. Excavation, insulation, and plastering works were determined as the most affected construction works under the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research limitations/implications: The quantitative portion of this study is limited to a sample of respondents in the Turkish construction industry. Further research is necessary to provide an in-depth review into construction labor productivity in other countries with a larger respondent sample. Another limitation is sourced by the dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may turn out that some findings are outdated. Despite these limitations, the insights from this study may enable employers to understand the major drivers and deep impacts of labor productivity loss by uncovering the main vulnerabilities during the pandemic. Recommended measures may also help policy-makers and stakeholders in the construction industry take necessary and immediate actions to ensure better construction labor productivity. Originality/value: The study may contribute to a better understanding of a pandemic's impact on labor productivity by focusing on both employee and employer perspectives, especially in developing countries. The paper may help employers decide which priority measures are required for each construction work separately. The study is crucial not only for minimizing the negative effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on labor productivity but also for preparing for the post-pandemic era. © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited.