Construction and engineering projects are being affected adversely due to authorities passing laws or regulations, or even giving directives, intended to address the pandemic. Amidst such unforeseen circumstances, how is the built environment sector working its way out of these restrictive norms?

A global-scale event of this magnitude has rarely ever happened and to quote from the Nobel Laureate, Professor Muhammed Yunus, it is an 'untouched opportunity' with so much to do to move forward. The element of shelter is of much importance to humankind, so the demand for a civil engineer is inevitable. There were many pandemics that have happened in the past, regionally or specific to a few countries, but COVID-19 has been of unforeseen scale. Does it stop with this? We are not sure given the fact we are surrounded by uncertainties. If you precisely classify in terms of risk management, it is between unknowns and knowns.

This is where the opportunities are in front of young people. The country requires infrastructure to support such challenges, and it is a never-ending process. The activities must move but at a different pace and style. While people are talking about no office space and work from home, it is an indication to think differently for leasing and selling a business opportunity. Technically, innovative and competent technology needs to be in place for which primarily management education is important.

At this stage, COVID-19 is not, broadly speaking, rendering projects altogether impossible to complete. But it is slowing them down, causing delay and disruption, even if only because supply chains have been severely disrupted. Many projects have even stopped, usually with the intention to resume work at a later date.

Force majeure will typically only excuse non-performance of those obligations, which are affected by the specific event. This raises questions, for instance, when certain activities can be continued, while others cannot. The requirement that the consequences of an unprecedented circumstance cannot be overcome is also potentially significant, because a contractor may be able to take measures to allow the works to continue, although at a reduced rate.

Construction and real estate management have been professional spheres employing multitudes from time immemorial. As things move more forward professionally, people expect a professional service standard in this domain. So how do we look at the opportunities in front of us to perform directly? The technology shall be sustainable meeting global standards so that it is available for everyone. The social economy is the future and business is all going to be carried out globally. The scope of bringing techno-managerial skill to the construction and real estate industry is enormous post the pandemic. It is important to be part of the new paradigm, and appropriate skilling is essential to keep up with the changes.

It is going to be the new normal, and despite ongoing challenges in the construction industry, things will eventually return to work. No one can predict what this new normal will look like; however, the end of the pandemic will undoubtedly lead to a significant increase in claims for delays or increased costs because of the COVID-19 outbreak, lead to changes in scheduling needs and reinforce the need to coordinate and cooperate at all levels of the construction pyramid. Knowledge of construction management, contracts and disputes, claims as well as scheduling is very important at this stage. This pandemic was not foreseeable, and unfortunately, its duration and fallout remain uncertain. What is certain is that we are transitioning to a new normal. Being prepared for this will be essential to managing the outcome and minimizing negative impacts.