the newsletter of tbd consultants - 3rd qtr 2017

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In this Edition

Generations in Construction
Construction PDF Coalition
Intrigue & Increases

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Generations in Construction

The oldest Baby Boomers became eligible for an AARP card in 1996, when they would have turned 50 years old. They still constitute about 26% of the US workforce, and probably a higher percentage in the construction industry, but they are now passing the traditional retirement age, and are beginning to pass the baton to the generations coming behind.

Boomers grew up in a world where computers were machines that took up entire rooms and required their own HVAC systems, televisions were black and white and the broadcasting stations only operated for part of the day. That gave plenty of time for them, as kids, to be out playing in the streets or riding around on their bicycles without helmets. Telephone booths were not just ways of entering the Ministry of Magic (for Harry Potter fans) or for travel through time and space (Dr. Who), but people actually made phone calls from them. Cellphones were unknown. Safety was not so much an issue, and families were into do-it-yourself, so kids grew up with at least some knowledge and feel for construction.

The youngest Boomers were born in 1964 (although year boundaries for generations can vary, depending on who’s talking) and then Generation X (those born between the years 1965 and 1980) started to arrive on the scene. Boomers, such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, brought us the age of personal computers, and another Boomer, Tim Berners-Lee, gave us the World Wide Web, but it was GenXers who took and developed those to bring us into the age of smart phones and social media.

GenXers tended to be raised by wealthier parents than those of the Boomers, and saw less of their parents doing work around the house. With both parents often working, they saw less of their parents, period, and this became known as the age of latchkey kids. It has been suggested that this is why they tended to steer clear of jobs like construction, and went for jobs with more regular hours, so they could ‘be there for their kids’ when they got older. Currently the GenXers make up about 31% of the national workforce.

The generation that followed, GenY, better known as the Millennials, are those born between 1980 and 1997, and they grew up never knowing a world without personal computers, and were raised on broadband. Having graduated from college, they now constitute 31% of the workforce, probably fractionally more than the GenXers, but that percentage will grow and they are likely to be even more of a driver for change.

They started entering the workforce around the time the Great Recession hit, with the result that many of them have had to make compromises when looking for work, and they have seen that being loyal to a company does not guarantee continued employment. Their parents had been taught to treat their children as something special, and told them that could achieve anything they wanted. Those parents also wanted to protect their kids and give them lots of experience, so they were shuttled from tutors to sports and music classes, etc., and free time was spent safely playing video games and texting their friends. Consequently, the Millennials tend to be extremely tech-savvy, feel that they are special and capable of rising through the corporate structure rapidly, and expect things to happen at least as rapidly as they get responses from friends to their texts. Happily, they are also more than willing to be tutored or coached, because many need tutoring in subjects like appropriate dress code for business. Emphasizing the benefits that kind of thing will have for their advancement will give the message more meaning for them. Coaching can also go in the reverse direction, with Millennials coaching their Boomer managers in technology.

Millennials are also used to near instant feedback, and will expect it at work too, or they may feel their effort isn’t appreciated. They are ideal for working with BIM, and cloud-based software, and they embrace concepts like green-construction because they want to make the world a better place. While Millennials are likely to feel at home in a design team office, especially if their desire for flexible hours and opportunity for working from home or the coffee shop is accommodated, they (like the GenXers) are less likely to see construction sites as their work location of choice. But those that do find themselves there will probably be driving the introduction of more technology.

Following on from the Millennials we have Generation Z, who currently form about 12% of the workforce, but they are only just starting to enter it. These are even more tech-savvy and less tolerant of legacy software than Millennials, but they are not as tech-centric. The Web, social media, and similar technology was new and exciting, and it became central to Millennials. Not so much with those of Gen Z. They know its capabilities and how to use it, but they are more likely to want personal interaction, rather than just texting everyone like their preceding generation.

Those of Gen Z are more likely to prefer to be in the office than Millennials, but like them they tend to prefer to have more cooperative spaces, rather than personal space. They also like the office to be easy to walk or bike too, or at least be near to transit, rather than having to drive. With some of the traffic snarl-ups we have been seeing, perhaps the generations have been getting smarter after all.


Construction PDF Coalition

PDF has become a popular format for transferring documents to others, but the types of information that a file contains can vary, affecting its usefulness. Here we look at the PDF Coalition's efforts to bring about consistency with the PDF documents.


Intrigue & Increases

Who says that markets don't like uncertainty? They appear to be doing well at present, but this is helping to push up construction costs. Here we look at some of the factors that are driving up prices, and how they vary from project to project.



Design consultant: Katie Levine of Vallance, Inc.