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Confidence is high in the construction industry: Optus report

A new report from Optus shows that technological investment will continue to be a main focus for companies in the coming year

Optus has released its Business Construction Industry Pulse 2022 report that provides insight into the current challenges, opportunities, sentiment and perspectives of businesses working in the construction industry.

Optus says that the research undertaken by ACA Research shows an industry that will soon see a lot of changes take place, particularly around the integration of new technology into businesses.

The report shows confidence among construction companies regarding the next 12 months remains very high, despite challenges around supply chains, attracting employees and subcontractors, and rising inflation and interest rates. 82 per cent of those surveyed said they were confident about the year ahead, with larger businesses reaching 95 per cent.

Over a third of businesses are focused on growth as a priority, with many investing in technology, equipment and training. Of the remainder, 57 per cent expect to maintain their current level, with just six per cent expecting to downsize.

Optus says the investment in renovations that is continuing post-COVID-19 is helping to mitigate the delays to supply deliveries. Despite expected increases in operating costs, 41 per cent of businesses say that they are expecting to increase their profits in the year ahead.

In terms of investing in technology, 35 per cent of companies said that they will either increase or significantly increase the amount of money they will spend on this in the coming year. 60 per cent of those surveyed say that technology is important, with 78 per cent those looking to increase the size of their businesses regarding technology as being key to this.

An interesting point raised was that while companies planning growth saw technology as being a strategic investment, those looking to downsize “might see it as an add-on that is often difficult to use or implement”, says Optus. Respondents to the survey said the technology they were looking to invest in included upgrading security and training, improving knowledge of the business, increasing profits and gaining data that helps the business achieve best practice.

However, while a third of businesses have a transition plan for the implementation of more technology, 29 per cent of companies said they are currently doing nothing to support the introduction of technology, with a lack of time, finance and expertise being highlighted as some of the reasons for this.

Of those looking to buy new technology over the next five years, augmented reality is the most popular followed by drones, Internet of Things, 3D printing and machine learning.

In terms of cyber risks, 68 per cent of respondents said they were concerned about the risk of cyber attacks due to the potentially significant consequences to critical infrastructure if there are privacy breaches. Smaller businesses overall see themselves as less secure. Social engineering attacks, where individuals are scammed through social media or another online application, was highest at large businesses. Optus says education and awareness, plus regular audits of security systems and standards, are important in managing this risk.

In terms of mental health, the report says that 45 per cent of firms reported that some staff had issues with mental health and wellbeing during the pandemic, with many companies putting in place programs and strategies to address this. This included providing no-questions-asked mental health days and surveys to assess employee mental health. However, nearly a quarter of respondents said no systems had been put in place to manage mental health risks.

Two-thirds of decision-makers said they were concerned about their personal mental health, with a quarter being very concerned. Managing a work-life balance was the biggest contributor to this and was more common among larger businesses.

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