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When It Comes to Smartphone Technology, Construction Workers Aren’t Really Behind Anybody Anymore

According to data published in April of this year by the Pew Research Center, nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone, and 19% of Americans rely to some degree on a smartphone for accessing online services and information and for staying connected to the world around them.

Confirming that construction professionals are much like their fellow Americans, survey data published by Equipment World in October 2014 indicates that in the years between the publication’s surveys (2011 and 2014), construction workers have come to rely more heavily on technology.

In the survey, 66% of contractor respondents reported owning an Internet-enabled phone, a rise of 14% over the 2011 survey. This finding lags the smartphone adoption rate of the general population by only 4%—which tends to negate assumptions that contractors and construction operators are not keeping up with technology.

The survey also indicates that construction professionals are doing more and more with their smartphone technology. Compared with the 2011 survey, 50% more respondents said they use apps and 27% reported that they watch videos online.

And, based on the numbers, the old dogs are learning something from the young pups. The Equipment World survey data reflects changes in a respondent base that skews older: 56% are 55 years or older and 36% are aged 35 to 54.

Contractors still remain reticent about social media, with less than half (45%) acknowledging visiting a social media site and more than 90% of that group reporting that it was Facebook. Those visiting YouTube rose to 60% in 2014, an 18% increase from 2011, another indicator that videos draw interest.

Finally, it looks as if smartphones are also becoming a tool of choice for professional networking among the skilled trades. In an article published in the Financial Times on January 19, 2015, Patrick Cushing, the co-founder of WorkHands, a U.S. networking site for construction, automotive and manufacturing workers, commented on how skilled workers like equipment operators use photos: “They took pictures because they were proud of the work they’d done, not necessarily for sharing, but I think that will change as web and mobile technology becomes the norm in these industries.”

If the trend continues, it appears that construction professionals might just be taking the lead in using smartphone photos of their work like a sort of visual resume.

See more at:
Equipment World Survey

Pew Research Center

Financial Times