Two of Britain’s largest contractors - behind major schemes such as the British Antarctic Survey and the British headquarters for Facebook - have combined to assist a pioneering study into flexible working on construction sites.

The two sister companies – BAM Nuttall and BAM Construct UK–– have a shared turnover of around £1.6 billion and a collectively employs over 5,000 people.

They are throwing their weight behind a study (the construction pioneers programme) which is the first of its kind in the construction industry and is being led and co-ordinated by industry body Build UK together with workplace consultancy Timewise.

Two further construction companies are part of the study which will lead to recommendations that are expected to shape the whole industry’s future approach to the subject.

“Creating solutions that would give us the ability to offer more flexible working arrangements would bring so many benefits.  These challenges this affect our ability to recruit and retain people from a diverse group, especially women, in an industry with a critical need to do so, to redress the skills shortage.

“Our work/life balance affects our mental health and our personal wellbeing. Our industry places high demands on our people and too many have struggled to cope with mental health pressures as a result.  In the most extreme cases this can lead to catastrophic outcomes.  We need to find better answers, helping our teams achieve a better balance and reaping the rewards that this will bring on both personal and business levels.

“For the first time ever this study will tackle the challenges to achieving flexible working on site and propose practical ways forward. I’m really excited that BAM are a part of this and look forward to finding solutions which will benefit our employees and shape the wider industry.”

Andrea Singh

Executive Director for BAM

Royal BAM Group is in its 150h year of trading. It is a leader in innovative technology such as virtual reality engineering and 3D printing with clients such as Unilever, INEOS, BP, Barclays and Tesco.

Following a detailed diagnostic, the four Pioneers will undertake a 12-16 month guided programme including workshops and training sessions, and mentoring and consultancy support to help introduce better flexible working. These pilot case studies will help the development of an industry-wide toolkit.

Emma Stewart MBE, CEO and co-founder of Timewise, says: “Many people think flexible working in the construction industry, with its long hours culture, deadline-driven mentality and physical demands, is simply impossible. Timewise has been working with organisations in other industries, such as the NHS and the British Retail Consortium, who face similar challenges – and seen real change take hold. Improving flexible working is a key way in which to tackle a whole range of key workforce and skills challenges. We’re delighted to be working with our inaugural Construction Pioneers to test and share how to make flexible working truly work in construction.”

Suzannah Nichol MBE, chief executive of Build UK, says: “The construction sector has recognised, and acknowledged, that it needs to recruit and retain a much more diverse workforce to create the world we all live in and rely on.  The challenge is to create a working environment that enables men and women from all backgrounds to realise their full potential in an industry offering a fantastic choice of rewarding careers whilst meeting their work life balance requirements.  This is not something we can do on our own and Timewise is leading the way in enabling major industries to change the way they operate.”