Digitization in the Design and Construction Industry—Remote Work in the Context of Sustainability: A Study from Poland
- What are the reasons why remote work is preferred by employees in the design and construction industry?
- How is the impact of remote work on the natural environment and sustainable development perceived?
- What are the barriers and obstacles to digitization of the design process?
- What are the factors that contribute to the digitization of the design process?
- What are the most relevant environmental factors in terms of sustainability of a digitized design process?
2. Literature Review
2.1. Digitization in the Design and Construction Industry
- Project management planning;
- Design management;
- Cooperation area;
- Managing the project team.
2.2. Environmental Sustainability in the Design and Construction Industry, as Well as Other Industries
- Many countries uniting in the fight against the pandemic;
- New sustainable development plans being established that take into account threats and crises;
- Communication and drawing solutions inspired by other countries, both in terms of combating the pandemic and in terms of sustainable development.
- Promoting remote work and striving to reduce the paper form of documentation for environmental reasons;
- Tendency to completely abandon paper in favor of electronic procedures, processes, and daily duties;
- Restrictions related to movement within and outside countries;
- Quarantines, home isolation, and the business impacts are partially mitigated by platforms for remote communication, filling, and signing documents, etc.;
- A global trend lasting for years consisting of offering more and more goods in digital or hybrid forms;
- Industry 4.0 assumptions of digitization and automation of production processes.
3. Materials and Methods
- Comfort of work;
- Efficiency and quality of work;
- Contact with the business environment;
- Tools for digitization and their use.
3.1. Preparing an Experiment
- The responses were coded for each response assigned to a given respondent. Code 0 was a negative answer, and 1 was an affirmative/positive answer.
- All “0” and “1” responses were counted, knowing the ratio of the amounts of one group to the other.
- The result was the next list of participants for the final interview.
3.2. Colaizzi’s Phenomenology Descriptive Method
- Acquaintance with the data by reading all the statements of the participants that were written down;
- Verify all significant statements that were directly related to the phrase “What makes remote work using electronic means of communication better and more sustainable?”;
- Formulating meanings that were significant and refer to the studied phenomenon;
- Grouping themes—identifying meanings in themes that were common to all statements, and avoiding the influence of suppositions and theories;
- A comprehensive description of the phenomenon under study in the context of the themes obtained in the previous step;
- Condensing a long description to a short statement that encapsulated the essence of the phenomenon under study;
- Obtaining feedback—after the examination, the test group should be consulted to verify whether the statement describing the phenomenon captured their experiences and feelings.
3.3. Cluster Analysis
- V1: Many aspects are impossible to discuss remotely.
- V2: Difficulty motivating customers to explain certain aspects electronically.
- V3: Formation of ambiguities and misunderstandings during electronic consultation with the client/investor.
- V4: Legal problems (procedures that require signatures and original documents).
- V5: Problems related to the place of activities (periodic presence required at the investment site).
- V6: Problems with access to documentation and technical data during a design service provided remotely.
- V1: Better and more flexible contact with the client/investor via electronic means.
- V2: Facilitated contact with the project team due to the use of electronic communication.
- V3: Facilitated cooperation with representatives of external companies via electronic means.
- V4: Higher efficiency at work.
- V5: Greater comfort at work.
- V6: Using more effective, faster, and productive methods of communication
4.1. Results of Colaizzi’s Phenomenology Method Approach
“The sense of comfort, freedom and economy as well as better efficiency with minimal impact of the design process on the environment made designers and architects prefer working remotely using electronic means of communication.”
4.2. Analysis of Clusters of Barriers and Contributing Factors to the Digitization of Services Provided by the Design and Construction Industry
- Cluster 1 (was titled: “Weak barriers”): “Formation of ambiguities and misunderstandings during electronic consultation with clients”, “Problems with access to data”, “Problems related to the place of activities (presence at the investment site)”.
- Cluster 2 (was titled: “Major barriers”): “Many aspects impossible to discuss remotely”, “Legal problems”, “Difficulties in motivating customers to explain certain aspects electronically”.
- Cluster 1 (was titled: “Weaker factors”): “Better and more flexible contact with client/investor due to the use of electronic communication means”, “Facilitated cooperation with representatives of external companies through electronic communication means”, “Facilitated contact with the project team due to the use of electronic communication”.
- Cluster 2 (was titled: “Major factors”): “Higher efficiency at work”, Higher comfort at work”, “Use of more effective, faster, and productive communication methods.”
- Cluster 1 (was titled: “sustainable savings”): “Reducing fuel consumption”, “Lower utility consumption in enterprises”, “Private financial savings”, “Savings in your design office”.
- Cluster 2 (was titled: “environmental incentives”): “Lower fossil fuel consumption”, Reduction of harmful substances emitted into the environment”.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Benefits||Difficulties and Barriers|
|Accessibility digital strategy|
Flexibility and easier adaptation
Building skills to adapt to new conditions and implementation of changing strategy
Decentralization of digitizing process
|Too many tasks in time to change the structure of enterprise without affecting the usual operation of the enterprise|
Lack of ability to change strategy and adapt to new conditions
Lack of personnel’s digital skills
Workers of different ages
Lack of abilities and willingness to learn new digital skills
Lack of technical skills to create new infrastructure inside a company
Integration of the organizational structure between the new digital and old traditional models in the moment of transitioning
Reengineer existing business models
|1. How do you rate the comfort of work during the COVID-19 pandemic? Has remote work changed working conditions for better or worse during the pandemic?||Comfort of work|
|2. Has working at home made you feel more secure?||Comfort of work|
|3. Was the remote work model more or less comfortable for you than stationary work in a design office/workplace?||Comfort of work|
|4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working remotely during lockdowns?||Comfort of work|
|5. How do you evaluate the contact with the project team, cooperation with people involved in the project during the pandemic? Were there any cases where contact during cooperation turned out to be easier or more difficult?||Contact with business environment|
|6. How do you evaluate the contact with the client during the design process, have the working conditions changed in this regard due to the pandemic?||Contact with business environment|
|7. How do you rate the ease of cooperation with clients during the COVID-19 pandemic (remote work)?||Contact with business environment|
|8. Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the demand in the design and construction industry? (was it a negative or a positive effect)||Contact with business environment|
|9. Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected the efficiency of your work?||Effectiveness and quality of work|
|10. How do you rate the overall quality of work as a designer/architect during lockdowns? Has the job turned out to be easier/more difficult?||Effectiveness and quality of work|
|11. How, in your opinion, did the lack of direct contact with a client/colleagues affect the quality of work.||Effectiveness and quality of work|
|12. Have digital means of communication made your work more efficient?||Effectiveness and quality of work|
|13. What are your thoughts on the digitization of the design process? It is about all organizational and customer cooperation aspects? Is it possible in terms of labor productivity? Does this have a positive or negative effect on customer satisfaction?||Effectiveness and quality of work|
|14. What was, in your opinion, the average time working remotely during the pandemic? Please estimate as a percentage.||Effectiveness and quality of work|
|15. Were the remote methods of communication with the client used due to the pandemic used by you and the company you work for before the pandemic?||Tools for digitization and their use|
|16. Did you also work remotely or in a hybrid manner prior to the COVID-19 pandemic?||Tools for digitization and their use|
|17. Despite the return to stationary work (in most companies), have some of the solutions used during remote work remained?||Tools for digitization and their use|
|18. What are the IT tools enabling remote work and remote contact with the client that were used by you at work?||Tools for digitization and their use|
|19. Does digitization of services in the design and construction industry have a positive impact on sustainable development?||Sustainability influence|
|Safety, a sense of peace at work||The respondents declared a high sense of security at work and a sense of peace.|
|Less electricity use||Respondents declared awareness of the consumption of (slightly) more electricity by their households, but a smaller amount by much larger buildings and entire industrial zones practically excluded from use during the lockdowns.|
|Comfort and freedom of work, the ability to balance working time and its rational division||Respondents declared a sense of freedom and the ability to control their lives and professional and private time. They did not feel like “incapacitated cogs in the machine”.|
|Do more||Respondents declared receiving more orders while working remotely.|
|Higher productivity||Respondents declared the possibility of doing more work remotely.|
|Reducing fuel consumption||Respondents declared lower fuel consumption due to the lack of the need to travel to their design office/company/own office.|
|Lower fossil fuel consumption||As a result of reducing the electricity consumption of office buildings and industrial zones, respondents declared their belief in lower consumption of nonrenewable resources.|
|Lower utility consumption in enterprises||Respondents declared that due to their absence and of other employees in enterprises/design offices, there was a lower consumption of utilities (water, gas, electricity).|
|Reduction of harmful substances emitted into the environment||Respondents declared that in their opinion, as a result of remote work, fewer harmful substances were released into the environment (car exhaust fumes, exhaust fumes of heating boilers, and heating industrial premises).|
|Private financial savings||As a result of the lack of the need to commute, the need to order and buy food at work, and constant trips from the workplace, respondents declared financial savings in their private finances.|
|Savings in your design office (designers–entrepreneurs)||Due to the lack of their own presence and their employees, respondents who owned their design offices declared lower consumption of utilities in their companies.|
|Lower stress||Respondents declared that working from home was less stressful for them.|
|Quality of work||Respondents declared a higher quality of projects performed during remote work.|
|Decision making||Respondents declared better efficiency in making decisions.|
|Contact with customers||Respondents declared faster contact with customers.|
|Contact with the project team||The respondents declared better contact and cooperation with the project team.|
|Contact with the contractors||Respondents declared better contact with contractors.|
|Remote work tools||The respondents declared that it was easy to use remote working tools, and that they were familiar with them due to their partial use before switching to a totally remote working model.|
|Customer satisfaction in the opinion of designers||The respondents declared greater satisfaction of their clients due to the flexibility of their working times and the ability to devote more time to them.|
|Demand in the industry when working remotely||Employees declared a higher demand for design and construction services while working remotely during the pandemic.|
|Digitization and remote work after the pandemic||Respondents declared their willingness to work remotely with the use of digital tools (and the transition to this model of providing services by the industry) regardless of the pandemic and existing lockdowns.|
|Answers||Numbers of Answers|
|Comfort and freedom of work, the ability to balance working time and its rational division||40|
|Private financial savings||40|
|Contact with customers||40|
|Contact with the project team||40|
|Remote work tools||40|
|Digitization and remote work after the pandemic||40|
|Contact with the contractors||39|
|Safety, a sense of peace at work||38|
|Savings in your design office (designers–entrepreneurs)||35|
|Customer satisfaction in the opinion of designers||35|
|Reducing fuel consumption||34|
|Lower utility consumption in enterprises||32|
|Reduction of harmful substances emitted into the environment||30|
|Quality of work||30|
|Less electricity use||29|
|Lower fossil fuel consumption||20|
|Demand in the industry when working remotely||10|
|Barrier (Variable)||Indicator Value||Std. Dev.|
|V1: Many aspects impossible to discuss remotely||1.53||5.95|
|V2: Difficulties in motivating customers to explain certain aspects electronically||3.33||11.24|
|V3: Formation of ambiguities and misunderstandings during electronic consultation with the client/investor.||2.00||7.90|
|V4: Legal problems (procedures requiring signatures and original documents)||5.40||8.35|
|V5: Problems related to the place of activities (presence at the investment site)||2.22||8.17|
|V6: Problems with access to documentation and data||1.00||7.46|
|Factors Contributing to Digitization in the Design Process (Variables)||Indicator Value||Std. Dev.|
|V1: Better and more flexible contact with the client/investor due to the use of electronic communication||2.00||5.93|
|V2: Facilitated contact with the project team due to the use of electronic communication||2.00||6.32|
|V3: Facilitated cooperation with representatives of external companies via electronic means||2.50||7.80|
|V4: Higher work-at-home efficiency||3.33||13.81|
|V5: Higher working comfort at home||4.00||14.10|
|V6: Using more effective, faster, and productive methods of communication||2.86||8.60|
|Environmental and Financial Aspects||Indicator Value||Std. Dev.|
|V1: Reducing fuel consumption||3.20||13.55|
|V2: Lower fossil fuel consumption||1.78||3.29|
|V3: Lower utility consumption in enterprises||5.33||11.08|
|V4: Reduction of harmful substances emitted into the environment||1.60||5.10|
|V5: Private financial savings||4.00||12.07|
|V6: Savings in your design office||5.33||12.12|
|Environmental Sustainability Benefits||Challenges||Organizational Benefits||Individual Benefits|
|Reducing fuel consumption||Contact with customers||Contact with the project team||Comfort and freedom of work, ability to balance working time and its rational division|
|Lower utility consumption in enterprises||Contact with contractors||Digitization development and remote work after pandemic||Private financial savings,|
safety, a sense of peace in work
|Reduction in harmful substances emitted into the environment||Better workers satisfaction level||Savings in design office (private businesses owners)|
|Less electricity use||Higher workers productivity||Lower stress|
|Lower fossil fuel consumption|
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Orzeł, B.; Wolniak, R. Digitization in the Design and Construction Industry—Remote Work in the Context of Sustainability: A Study from Poland. Sustainability 2022, 14, 1332. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031332
Orzeł B, Wolniak R. Digitization in the Design and Construction Industry—Remote Work in the Context of Sustainability: A Study from Poland. Sustainability. 2022; 14(3):1332. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031332Chicago/Turabian Style
Orzeł, Bartosz, and Radosław Wolniak. 2022. "Digitization in the Design and Construction Industry—Remote Work in the Context of Sustainability: A Study from Poland" Sustainability 14, no. 3: 1332. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14031332