Can Hybrid Work Plug Construction’s Talent Drain?

Story by Gemma Beasley / November 9, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic brought construction sites grinding to a halt. Teams accustomed to hands-on collaboration were forced into remote work overnight. Many adapted well during this unprecedented pivot, but in its wake, a contentious debate rages about on-site versus hybrid policies. Especially for junior staff.

Those new to construction, having honed remote work skills in school, often push for location flexibility. They want to split time between bustling project sites and quiet home offices. However, seasoned managers argue that maximizing on-site time is crucial during the first years on the job.

This back-and-forth stems from deeply rooted beliefs about work culture and training. But are there potential compromises? Ways to balance immersive on-site learning with modern demands? Evaluating both perspectives can illuminate a path forward.

Why Managers Champion Full-Time On-Site

For managers overseeing entry-level hires, keeping new recruits on-site full-time provides:

  • Unparalleled hands-on training. Budding professionals absorb volumes through daily observation of weathered mentors negotiating, managing crews, and directing complex projects.
  • Exposure to diverse skills and trades. From fine tuning finish work to assessing structural integrity, on-site training offers new hires a rigorous, cross-disciplinary education.
  • Relationship building opportunities. Shoulder-to-shoulder collaboration, impromptu conversations, and communal breaks strengthen connections between emerging and experienced staff.
  • Immersion in construction culture. The sights, sounds, and bustling energy of an active project site sparks newcomers’ passion for the work.

Why New Recruits Crave Hybrid Options

Meanwhile, the next generation often advocates for hybrid scheduling because it:

  • Provides a mix of hands-on and self-guided learning. Regular on-site training is enriched by focused individual study during remote days.
  • Allows quiet time to absorb new skills and process lessons learned.
  • Busy construction sites can be overwhelming to new hires.
  • Offers work-life balance and flexibility – splitting time between site and home accommodates personal needs and extends careers.
  • Modernizes rigid industry norms. On-site-only policies feel outdated to digitally-native recruits.

Blending Both Worlds

The good news? There are merits to both sides and plenty of room for compromise. Blended approaches could support on-site immersion while offering increased remote time after skills are proven, such as:

  • Intensive initial training periods on-site
  • Remote work privileges earned through 6-12 month reviews
  • Dedicated monthly remote and on-site “focus days”

The past few years have shown construction’s resilience and adaptability. With care and communication, managers can evolve training programs to blend on-site excellence with next-gen desires for flexibility.

The first step? An open mind.

The Next Step

If you’re struggling to develop a working model that suits everyone, Hudson Cooper Search can help.

As recruitment and talent specialists focused on the construction industry, we understand both management and emerging talent perspectives. Our team talks to junior candidates daily, gaining insights into their work styles, expectations, and motivations. We know first-hand what this next generation of construction professionals is looking for in a workplace.

Leverage our expertise to attract emerging talent by evolving your training programs. We can provide tailored guidance on implementing policies like phased-in remote work, dedicated off-site training days, and post-probation hybrid arrangements that offer the best of on-location immersion and modern flexibility.

Don’t let your firm get left behind in recruiting the brightest new minds. Reach out today to start building future-fit working models that set your company apart.


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