Construction has been a key industry in Australia for the growth and sustainability of the economy. Tradies are at the heart of this vital industry, and many own their own small business.

The challenges that tradies face today are not going to disappear anytime soon.

The construction industry is suffering from a labour shortage and supply chain problems after two years of increased uncertainty and job loss caused by the pandemic. The challenges faced by the construction industry have led to the closure of some well-known and large companies in the country. New South Wales Government is even considering rescue packages and bailouts for the sector.

The 2022 State of the Tradies Survey has revealed what tradies are doing to cope with these difficult times, what they have achieved and how technology can help them.

Time Poor Tradies

While most Australian tradies seem optimistic about the remainder of 2022, they have expressed concerns over the changing economic conditions and the effects of rising fuel prices, as well as job security, supply chain problems, and the impact on the economy.

Beyond the financial pressures brought on by economic uncertainty, Australian tradesmen and business owners face the challenge of not having enough time to run their businesses efficiently and maintain a balanced work-life. Optus Business has heard from many tradies that their work-life balance is ‘bad or very bad’. Over 65 percent of tradies say that they spend less than 20 hours a week with friends and family.

The Achilles Heel of Admin

It is striking that many tradies spend their valuable time trying to coordinate and connect with clients and colleagues on the move, while business owners waste time on administrative tasks instead of nurturing new leads and finding prospects or relaxing with family and friends.

We see that workers and business owners alike are struggling to balance their billable hours – the time they spend looking for new jobs – and the time required to recharge and relax.

Connectivity challenges and technology

Tradies are often on the move and rely heavily upon technology to complete their daily tasks. They also use it to stay in touch with their community. Nearly all respondents – 91 percent – rated mobile connectivity as important.

The industry is heavily reliant on smartphones. However, due to the nature of the work, devices tend to break more often than in other fields. This causes many to not want to invest in new technology.

The right technology can help business owners and tradies do their jobs more efficiently and stay in touch with their family and friends, but technology isn’t their expertise or their priority.

It is often overlooked that the lack of technology can negatively impact productivity, ability to stay connected and overall business performance. The Call Notes tool on the Optus Living Network shows how technology can help relieve some of the administrative stress that tradesmen experience.

Economic and technical support required

It’s encouraging to see how optimistic tradies feel about 2022, especially after the last two years of lockdowns and disasters. It’s not acceptable that so many small business owners and tradies continue to struggle in an industry that is so critical.

Priority should be given to helping small business owners and tradies in the construction sector balance work and home life, and navigate the current economic climate that has created unique obstacles.

Tradies need more help to improve productivity and work/life balance

The construction industry and tradies continue to be important in Australia’s economy. However, it is now less stable than before. According to research, 40% of tradies work more than 50 hours per week. This means they miss out on time with their friends and families.

Tradies face long and stressful working hours due to the uncertainty of the market and a high amount of administrative work required by tradies and business owners. The construction industry faces many challenges that can be best overcome by technology. This can help tradies gain back time and reduce the administrative burden.

Increase your productivity and run your business more efficiently. Get some time back.

The biggest challenge is the time you spend on things that don’t generate revenue or help to generate new leads.

Tradies’ commute time is an issue that unfortunately cannot be solved. What can be optimized is the time spent on jobs or in transit to jobs. If the right support was available, time could be saved in many areas, including improving communication with colleagues, client communications, and work-life admin.

On the Optus Living Network are tools like call notes and call translate that allow small business owners to communicate better with their customers and co-workers while they commute daily or on the job site. Call Notes allows tradesmen to record calls, with the customer noting all of the important information on-the-spot. This means that tradies do not need to call back to get specific details. The reduction in admin like following up leads is a huge time saver for business owners and sole-traders.

By using technology to automate the tedious admin tasks, workers and owners can spend more time with family and friends and less time in the office following up on customer needs.

Digital solutions and connectivity are essential

The same study revealed that 91% Australian tradesmen consider mobile connectivity important for their jobs and to stay connected with their communities. Connectivity and technology are key to solving the challenges that tradies face, especially when it comes improving productivity and running businesses more efficiently.

Construction workers, small business owners and sole traders are usually on the move. They need to be able to communicate with prospects, clients, and employees, so that they can nurture business opportunities.

Construction business owners also need help in handling large amounts of data safely and affordably, and protecting personal and financial information.

The problem is, most tradesmen are not tech-savvy and don’t see technology as a priority. It is therefore important to support the development of technology that is more user-friendly and accessible. Digital solutions are meant to increase mobility and ease of business, not complicate things.

It’s about giving tradies and small business owners more time in their day so they can focus on the things that matter most for their business, and also have time to spend with family and friends, improving their work/life balance.

Five areas of technology that can improve the lives of people

One hand, the uncertainty of work caused by supply chain problems is impacting the mental health of tradies. On the other, some tradies have been so busy trying to complete projects within unrealistic budgets.

The construction industry will continue to face challenges in the future, including supply chain issues and rising raw material costs. However, investing in technology is a key way to reduce admin and give time to tradespeople who need it.

Here are five technologies that can be of assistance to tradesmen.

Facilitating admin

The most time-consuming area for small business owners and tradies is administration.

Many people spend hours on end at night and on weekends dealing with paperwork or balancing their books, instead of focusing solely on their business or generating new leads.

Construction workers and business owners in Australia , in particular, report a need for better solutions to the problems of billing, logistics, banking, and operations.

Enabling Business Transactions

Access to apps and software for phones that facilitate business transactions has also been cited as an area in which more support is required.

The first step to facilitating business transactions involves choosing a reliable payment device.

Technology advancements make it simple to use a mobile or tablet as a device that accepts the same payment methods as an eftpos.

Then identify a mobile app or software that integrates seamlessly into a device. This eliminates the need to constantly switch from one device or device to another or to reconcile later data from the payment device.

Make data management and cybersecurity your priority

Cyber-attacks are no longer limited to large corporations. Even the smallest businesses or sole traders are now prime targets and often used as a portal to larger companies. This is because most of the work today is done using mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Businesses are increasingly reliant upon digital services, such as cloud software and mobile applications that store professional and personal data.

Construction industry has very low adoption rates for cybersecurity solutions. This is a problem, as more workers and owners move their daily business operations online.

Remove unnecessary double-ups
When moving administrative, payment, and other processes onto a digital platform users often end up with a collection of devices and services which don’t communicate and make things more complicated and time-consuming.

It is important that construction workers and business owners streamline their digital solutions to avoid paying double for services.

Connectivity – the key to success!

It is essential to have a reliable and secure high-bandwidth connection in the construction industry. This will allow workers on the job site or while on the road to access the data they need. It’s important to find the right technology partners who can guide small business owners and tradies in the construction sector choose the best technology solutions for their specific needs and situations.

The ability to connect and access digital tools, which are affordable and easy to use, can help construction business owners and tradies achieve their goals. They will be able to do more in less time and improve their work/life-balance.