Work practices of onsite construction crews and their influence on productivity

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Construction Economics and Building, 2018, 18 (3), pp. 18 - 39
Issue Date:
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© 2018 by the author(s). The nature of construction work processes allow crews and workers to follow their own practices in how they plan, organise and coordinate work. However, there is little research into the nature of crew work practices. This paper aims to unveil the influence of onsite crew work practices on productivity. An exploratory case study investigated work practices on a residential project involving two separate crews (of 18 and 23 workers) engaged in rebar placement for 112 columns each, which included a high-performing and an average-performing crew. A triangulated mixed methods approach to data gathering utilised site observations, individual and group interviews, and time measured work studies, to assess productivity of the crews. The findings indicate that the high-performing crew achieved 44% higher productivity than the average-performing crew and this manifested across specific tasks including rebar cutting, bending, stirrup fabrication and tieing. Five broad work practices were observed to considerably influence the above productivity differences: work preparation and execution strategy; group formation and stability; avoiding duplication of tasks; crew social cohesion; and internal and external leadership practices. These five practices are proposed as dimensions that can be used to measure crew productivity in ongoing research. In-depth understanding of crew based work practices will enable training of foremen and work crews in such practices to systematically develop high-performing crews.
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