Navigating Construction Communication: 7 Proven Strategies for Project Success

Getting a construction project over the finish line isn’t just about the physical details. Materials, job sites, labor, permits — they’re all important. But the mortar that holds everything together is communication. 

Whether you’re struggling with construction communication right now or just want to refine your system for future projects, we’re here to help with practical tips to improve communication.

From upgrading your construction communication software to standardizing how you share information, these strategies will boost your team’s productivity, efficiency, and morale.

Types of communication in construction projects

There are three main types of communication for projects in the construction sector, with each one requiring a specific approach and, in some cases, purpose-built software.

On-site communication

Communication on job sites is essential to keep work safe, accurate, and on schedule. It includes everything from on-site meetings to briefings for construction workers, radios for regular updates, and even signage for key reminders.

In addition to communicating within the site, construction teams also need to feed information back to the project manager.

Electronic and mobile communication

Electronic communication is probably how you interact with most of your stakeholders and worksites. This type of communication includes cell phone calls and texts, instant messages, and emails, as well as dedicated construction management software.

The right project management software will help you share information, assign tasks, monitor progress, and maintain security where needed.

Document collaboration

As a construction professional, you know that documents are everything. Every brick that’s laid has a hundred sheets of paper behind it, from contracts to blueprints, drawings, and permits. 

You can make communication easier and more efficient through document collaboration software. Use it to share files, update them in real time, view changes, and hand out tasks to your team.

Why communication is key in construction

Being a site manager or project lead in the construction industry is complex, challenging work. You work with multiple stakeholders, teams, contractors, programs, platforms, and regulations every single day. 

Poor communication can slow projects down — or even bring them to a complete stop. But that’s not all.

Gaps in communication can lead to unsigned contracts, invalid permits, and legal disputes. Then there are the consequences of mistakes and delays: even more time, money, labor, and materials spent on rework. Every miscommunication costs you.

You can avoid many of these problems with good communication. When everybody knows what they’re doing — and how, when, and where to do it — the risk of disputes and rework is much lower.

Challenges of communication in construction projects

Because construction projects are so complex, construction communication can be complicated too. You need to maintain a constant flow of information between stakeholders, sites, and software platforms throughout the building project management process.

Multiple stakeholders

Managing a construction project means having a long list of people in your inbox: architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors, clients, regulatory bodies, and even local governments. Each group has their own priorities, goals, and jargon.

You have to find a way to communicate with them — and help them communicate with one another. 

Figuring out effective communication for multiple stakeholders isn’t just a nice-to-have — it’s the key to reducing frustrations, delays, and costly disputes.

Geographical dispersion

Different stakeholders don’t just have different perspectives and jargon. They’re often in different physical locations too. That means you have to maintain open communication in the face of delivery delays, language barriers, and varying time zones. 

Maintaining open lines of communication and keeping everyone up to date across work sites is an ongoing problem for construction companies. Over two-thirds of general contractors say that they don’t get detailed updates often enough from their sub-contractors in different locations.

Without timely data and communication, it’s impossible for project managers to keep things on track.

Technical complexity

Every stage of the construction process involves complex technical details, measurements, and calculations. As data gets passed between different stakeholders and specialists, it’s easy for those details to be misinterpreted.

The result is costly mistakes, delays, and potentially even disasters. An infamous Hyatt skywalk collapse in 1981 came down to just three letters on a page: the difference between “continuous” and “discontinuous” steel ties.

Nobody wants to be responsible for errors, rework, or safety issues. Efficient communication means finding a way to share information without losing technical details or clarity.

Information overload

Stakeholders, multiple sites, technical details — does it sound overwhelming yet? Welcome to yet another challenge in the communication process: information overload.

The sheer volume of project plans, specifications, changes, updates, regulations, requests, and models means that it’s easy for information to go overlooked. In extreme cases, it can mean that people stop paying attention or using the proper information systems because they can’t handle the constant flow of notifications.

As a project lead or site manager, you are responsible for finding the forms of communication that work for your project team members.

7 ways to improve communication in construction

The good news is that you can improve both external and internal communications. These strategies will streamline your workflow, clarify how you do business, and help keep everyone in the loop.

1. Implement the right construction collaboration software

One way to make communication easier is to implement software solutions that enable seamless collaboration. Instant updates, document sharing, and task management are key features for most construction professionals.

But, at the same time, you don’t want to add more training and complexity for your team. So look for construction collaboration software that is helpful, intuitive to use, and genuinely saves you time. 

For example, ActiveDraft makes it simple to access, annotate, and share documents like drawings and designs from anywhere. This powerful solution enables seamless, real-time document collaboration and makes it easy to keep track of assignments and progress across projects.

2. Create a project communication plan

It might sound like extra work, but creating a clear communication plan at the start of a project will make your life much easier later on. 

A communication plan for a construction project includes:

  • Guidelines for which communication channels and file types to use
  • List of key stakeholders and how to contact them
  • Timelines for updates so people know what to expect
  • Protocols for different situations, such as who to contact if you spot an error

3. Maintain the right communication method for the message

You have a lot of communication channels at your disposal. You can talk face to face, make a phone call, mail a letter, write an email, send an instant message, and so on.

But different messages need different communication channels. For example, phone calls might be great for daily check-ins, but change orders, updates to a design, or safety incidents will need to be documented in writing.

Your communication plan should lay out the right channel to use for each message. That way, important information won’t get lost, and key channels won’t get choked up with less urgent messages.

It’s also worth thinking about your style of communication. When you’re passing information between different stakeholders, think about what level of detail or jargon is necessary. Maybe you can summarize a message, pick out key points, or break down technical language to save the reader time and provide more clarity.

4. Establish a transparent chain of command

Every construction site has a chain of command — and every construction project needs a communication chain of command too.

A clear chain of command will help ensure that the right information gets to the right people at the right time. Without it, you’re risking miscommunications, misinformation, and uninformed stakeholders.

You can discuss the chain of command with your project team or even add it to the communication plan. Everyone should know their roles and responsibilities, including when to hand off decision-making to someone else on the team.

5. Standardize documentation and reporting

If information consistency is an issue, consider adding reporting guidelines or even templates to your communication plan. Standardization can be especially useful if you’re suffering from information overload.

Standardized forms, documents, and reporting procedures save everyone time — because you know exactly where to find key information within a document. It cuts down on unnecessary or confusing messages, replacing them with clear data that’s easy to scan and summarize. 

6. Conduct regular training and development

Even the most experienced professionals need training. New software, communication channels, technology, and projects come online all the time. But don’t overlook the importance of soft skills development.

Your whole team could benefit from training in communication skills. In addition to learning specific procedures and platforms, they can improve skills like active listening to help them collaborate better with each other and external stakeholders.

7. Continuously iterate and improve

None of these strategies is a one-off solution. It’s important to regularly review your software stack, communication plan, chain of command, standard procedures, and training. 

Over time, you’ll be able to refine how you communicate, based on project outcomes and feedback from both your team and stakeholders. Plus, as you build a culture of continuous improvement and transparency, you’ll reap further benefits from open communication within your team.

Supercharge construction communication with ActiveDraft

The importance of communication in construction projects is clear. If your team is struggling in this area, these practical strategies will help you develop clear, consistent communication for better project outcomes.

And if you’re drowning in documents, construction collaboration software can help you streamline your work and share information with everyone who needs it. With ActiveDraft, you, your team, and your stakeholders can collaborate, update, and manage documents in real time — keeping everything in sync.

See the difference that seamless collaboration makes — get the software solution that’s designed for construction site managers.


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