The Year Ahead with Covid-19 – Getting Back to Work After Coronavirus

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How Can We All Get Back to Work After Coronavirus?

At the time of writing, we are in the sixth week of a seven-week lockdown, imposed by the Scottish and UK Government to help prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. Despite many companies adapting and working from home, the question which needs to be on everyone’s mind is what happens when we go back to the office after the COVID-19 lockdown is over? Is it even possible for things to return to normal and to work after coronavirus?

We’ve spent the last few weeks asking ourselves this very question. We’ve been challenging ourselves to find solutions that will maximise the health and well-being over our 47 staff working over two offices and a collaborative workspace. Going back to basics, we looked at our principles and asked how we can do things in a safe and cost-effective manner.

We want to share with you some things which we consider to be essential on the journey of returning our teams to their offices. These measures will be crucial in getting the country back on its feet in a controlled and strategic manner.

On 23 April, the First Minister of Scotland released an initial draft of a document that she says is the beginning of the conversation to ease the lockdown get the country back to work. She stressed that there will need to be a “new normal” and it is this new normal which Worksmart will help to create within our places of work and learning.

The most important thing throughout all of this is the well-being of employees, clients and by extension the general population. When it’s safe to do so, we will return to work. When we do so, certain measures will be put in place to help suppress the virus. This will ensure safe and healthy re-integration into the workplace and a steady transformation to a new normal.

Our Staff are the most important factor in our business and we need to ensure they are as safe as they can be. Not only that, they need to feel safe, valued and confident in their working area. This goes for people in every market sector. We need to empower the workforce, making them feel comfortable while they work in order to allow them to work efficiently; in spite of these challenging times.

Well-Spaced Offices

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Fewer people in the office will become the norm

After the COVID lockdown, it will remain essential to keep social distancing measures in place for some time. This won’t be limited to the streets; it will also play an important role in the office and workplace in all market sectors.

Post-COVID, our architects and designers will strive to use available space in such a way that employees are given their own space, a healthy distance from other people. This will be very important, with people sitting at their office desks for up to 8 hours of the day.

Workspaces will need to be assessed. When they don’t comply with the 2 metre distancing rules, they will need to be removed or highlighted as a non-working workstation. Meeting rooms, conference rooms, boardrooms etc will also need to have chairs removed to facilitate social distancing.

More uptake and participation in video and conference calls will follow on from our home working boom. The advantage here is that people will feel far more comfortable using the technology now that it has become part of their everyday working lives.

By keeping people a safe distance apart, we can mitigate the spread of the virus and lower the chance of another spike in the curve.

Glazed Office Partitions and De-Cluttering

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Partitions will help limit face-to-face contact in the office

In addition to spacing, removing boxes, excess files, storage and general accumulations should be carried out to create further circulation space. We have agreed to implement a degree of glazed screening to main thorough routes in some of the general open plan office areas. This will help with general screening for airborne issues and also will assist in acoustics.

There will be less person-to-person interaction and more video and conference calls within our own internal teams too. The Glass panels will also assist in reduction of sound transfer with the increased video calls. The introduction of headsets to reduce number of voices speaking will also be needed. In addition, fully glazed offices can be created quickly and effectively to provide increased confidentiality and controlled working environments.

More open areas can be created for general collaboration and for rest and well-being. All of which will help our teams relax in these new challenging conditions and ease us into a comfortable way of working in our new environments.

Design & Workstations Adapted for Coronavirus

In addition to de-densifying workstations to create the required distancing, desk mounted screens in a full variety of permutations can be easily added with sound absorption panels and acrylic clear screens above to give added screen protection. This will help with sound attenuation that will become a concern with the increased number of video and conference calls.

Staff well-being should always be the number one priority for an employer and we should be considering sit-stand desks to promote a healthier work space. This is important when thinking about returning to work after coronavirus, but will also have knock-on effects in other areas of health and well-being in the workplace.

Air Filtration Systems to Help Prevent Coronavirus Spread

Ensuring fresh, clean air is being brought into our workplaces is going to be top priority after this crisis when it comes to allowing staff back to work after coronavirus. We work with the leading manufacturers to ensure all air filtration systems we install on refurbishment and fit-out projects meet the highest health and safety standards. The current position of air filter systems in offices may need to be altered to assist in more effective air-flow.

Staggered Working Patterns after COVID-19

A great way to ease people back into the shared workplace is by utilising staggered shifts. Alternating staff either one separate days or different working hours, will help to keep workplaces less crowded. This could mean someone working half of their hours at home, and half in the office. This type of system would be especially useful for businesses working from a small office.

Some companies already use flexi-hours which reduces the actual volume of people within a working environment at peak time such as early morning and late afternoon. The future of the workplace could see the widespread use of such systems.

This should also be extended to people’s lunch breaks. Having everyone take lunch at the same time will lead to many people in the same place at the same time: something we should all try to avoid for a while until there is a vaccine or treatment. Unless we adopt these methods of staff shifts, it will be very difficult to return to normal work after coronavirus

Dedicated Hand Washing Areas

Hand-san has really come to the fore in the last couple of months, with many people now carrying portable bottles of alcohol-based anti-bacterial hand sanitizer whenever they leave the house. Frequent hand washing is going to be incredibly important in the post-COVID world and we predict many offices will be designed with dedicated areas in each office space for sanitisation.

This could involve extra sinks being installed or simply areas where bottled hand-sanitizer dispensers are readily available for everyone to use.  Encouraging staff to remain vigilant and wash their hands on a regular basis will help prevent the spread within the workplace.

Welfare, Rest and Toilets

Increased cleaning regimes are required to be followed by staff and other people entering the office environment. Ensuring we wash accordingly and use the added cleaning sanitising products in these areas is crucial. We must also use sealed bins to help everyone keep germs under control and have a cleaner and safer workspace.

Everything in the office should be taken into account when it comes to cleaning. This will include light switches, sockets, door handles and all commonly touched surfaces. These will need regular cleaning. This can be supported and positively promoted using the right signage in the required areas.

No Sharing

We’re sorry if this comes across as a bit rude, but it’s going to be necessary. Once everyone is back to work, we’ll be encouraging people to bring their own cutlery, bottles, mugs etc to use at work. This lack of sharing should also extend to things such as keyboards, mice, pens, phone chargers, cables etc.

Workplace Disinfecting

Upon completion of a project, whether that be an office refurbishment, building upgrade or fit-out, everything should be completely disinfected with bac50 sanitising solution or similar. These products disinfect all surfaces to kill all bacteria and germs including COVID-19. This will allow teams to return to a fully hygienic and safe working environment.

HSE and Approved areas of Works

It has already been confirmed by the HSE that their system for RIDDOR is taking a significant interest and role in assessing if working environments are fit for working. They will want to ensure that all the risk assessment, method statements and ways of working have been assessed, planned and communicated to the team. They will be holding everyone accountable for their working environments to ensure people are safe. They are taking COVID-19 seriously, as we all are.

New Normal

While we don’t know for sure how long this process of re-integration will take, we can assure you that we will be following the science and advice given by the government and health authorities to ensure our clients and our own staff are as safe as possible when they return to work after coronavirus.

We have taken the time to scrutinise how we can make the working environment safer for our teams. We hope that this will help you in looking at ways of getting your own teams back to work. We are here to support and advise on how you can make the changes to your workplace interiors and office spaces through fast-track office refurbishments.

This is a real opportunity for businesses to look at how they could and should be working moving forward. This is the chance to really cement their teams within their business, regardless of market sector. Having the right working environment: one which is modern, flexible, efficient and safe, makes us all comfortable and encourages a better level of work.

For very little cost, a significant improvement can be made which will be to everyone’s benefit. The measures outlined above will allow us to return to work after coronavirus and ensure the safety of staff.

We are certainly doing it and will be sharing more across our blogs, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

We are here to help.

#MakeItWorksmart

Worksmart Company Briefing Meeting Recap

Steve Neilson Worksmart Contracts Refurbishment Scotland

Acorns to Oak Trees – Where we were, where we are and where we are going.

Professionalism, Honesty, Value, Loyalty and Competency. The five core values we work towards here at Worksmart Contracts. This was the topic of discussion at our company briefing meeting in the new East View Suite at the recently refurbished Park Hotel in Kilmarnock; a stunning venue for any function or event.

Over the last few months, the Worksmart team has worked hard on this project. The result of the effort is plain to see, and we’re delighted with the results. The Park Hotel project, in addition to the new Blues at the Park Restaurant and projects within Kilmarnock Football Club’s Rugby Park Stadium, has resulted in a very busy last few months.

Following the success of the last Alignment Meeting two years ago, the Worksmart management team wanted to communicate to the entire Worksmart Team under one roof. Quality time was needed to go through each and every department to discuss the current situation and our goals for the future.

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We believe it’s important for the full team to understand where each of the departments are, what they are trying to develop and improve, and what they are looking to do in future. It’s crucial that each team is able to see how this interacts with other departments and how the business benefits overall from the process. For a company to be successful it must be efficient. At Worksmart, we recognise this and are working to improve our efficiency in every aspect of our business.

The conference was opened by Steve Neilson presenting images of recent projects. Professional photography coverage was once again provided by the talented Guy Hinks, who was also on hand to photograph the event. Following on from that was a general overview of the structured development of the company. This included the aims of Worksmart, job roles, responsibilities and a look at recent investment in the company such as: IT systems, vehicles, newly branded workwear.

Worksmart Contracts Joiner Scotland FitOut Refurb

Steve also informed the full team of the success of Worksmart Fire Door Inspection and also the newly formed EMC Projects Ltd. This has just been formed with Worksmart and Michael O`Brien, a well-established electrical and communications business owner.

It was then the turn of Lisa Neilson to address the room, discussing the need for everyone to working smarter, embrace their job roles and responsibilities, the quality management system, training, betterment and more. Lisa went into the last few years of the overall Scottish and UK construction industry markets and their trend lines, along with the comparison between the UK trend and the Worksmart trend. She demonstrated how Worksmart has been able to sustain business levels through the tough times and are slower to be affected by the downtrends, and react better than others in the market.

Worksmart’s Business Development Manager, Jim Harkins, then informed the team of all the excellent work at the front end of the business. This included the marketing, the new CRM system and how we have it linked together. He then spoke about how we harness these systems to stay up-to-date with market trends and integrate with our consultants.

Jim also touched on the CPD Seminar which is being delivered by Worksmart Fire Door Inspection all over Scotland, including two with RICS in the coming months at their Glasgow and Edinburgh offices.

Barry engaged with the team and discussed how the full and extended Estimating department works, integrating with Jim in BDM and controlling tenders in and out. He told how the use of the new Conquest system making us more efficient and working well with our process flows, and assessing sub-contracting partners and ensuring they are at the best price point and quality.

The Park Hotel Kilmarnock East View Suite

Paul took us through the Commercial and Procurement side of things and went through the new additions to the team, speaking about how everyone works collaboratively with the other departments within the business. He stressed the importance of every cog in the wheel playing its part and how the business is the sum of its parts.

After this, Gary, who heads up Operations, took the time to go through all aspects of the system and its requirements. He also welcomed the extended team, now featuring additional Contracts Managers, Project Managers, Site Managers, Site Supervisors, Joiners and Apprentice Joiners. This accounted for some thirty plus members of the team. We have developed our company and our team to be highly sustainable and diverse, ready to take on and deliver Interior Contracting projects all over Scotland and the UK.

Mhairi took us through the HR side of the business, making everyone comfortable with the systems and procedures while going through various aspects of the Core Values. These values were created at the aforementioned Alignment meeting two years ago.

The conference was then closed out with Steve back on stage giving everyone a refresher on the Acorns to Oak Trees outlook.

Worksmart Contracts Fit Out Refurbishment Contractor

On behalf of the entire Worksmart team, we’d like to take our hats off to Gordon Anthony, Hotel Manager at The Park Hotel. It is always important to feel comfortable and be well looked after at conferences and we were certainly well looked after by Gordon and his fantastic team at the Park Hotel. Thank you for a first-class service.

 

 

Dyslexia in the Construction Industry

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It is estimated that up to 20,000 people within the construction industry could be dyslexic and many of the people with the condition are completely unaware. The British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has estimated that between four and 10 percent of the UK population is dyslexic meaning up to 2.9 million workers may be affected.

These numbers are surprising, and mean that each and every one of us will know someone who is dyslexic. The BDA estimates that four percent of the population is seriously affected by the condition. A further six percent experience less serious difficulties.

Dyslexia Scotland Construction Industry

According to Dyslexia Scotland, some of the difficulties involved with having dyslexia include: Problems with reading, taking notes, remembering numbers, names and details and problems with written work, such as spelling and writing.

Research has shown dyslexia to be more prominent among architects, construction workers, entrepreneurs, farmers, scientists and in the medical profession. With the condition – which can be classified as a disability under the Equality Act 2010 – being found more prominent in our own industry, we felt we had to do more.

At Worksmart Contracts, we want to make sure everyone feels at home and included. Whether you’re in the boardroom or on the front lines producing some of the finest Fit-Outs and Refurbishments. Everyone is in this together, and no one should ever have to feel like they are at any kind of disadvantage or falling behind their peers.

Dyslexia Friendly Construction Materials

Once we realised the scale of this issue, we felt the need to do our part and address it. In our company vision and values, we state that we “value our health, our happiness” and we offer “consideration, helpfulness and friendship to others.” These are the principles we work by every day. We are committed to helping others, especially when it comes to the health of our employees.

Over the last few weeks, Worksmart Contracts has been preparing a dyslexia-friendly version of our site induction literature. These materials are crucial for people working on a live construction site. They cover everything from PPE to on-site conduct to first aid and parking.

For anyone who has ever struggled to understand something, whether it’s in a book, during a lecture or while watching a movie, it can be embarrassing to admit you need help. Because of this, it’s critical that these site induction documents are dyslexia friendly.

The formatting of this document will make it much easier to read for anyone suffering with dyslexia. Failure to read and understand the document fully could result in some serious accidents on a construction site. Hopefully with this new dyslexia-friendly version, we will be able to ensure complete clarity for everyone.

Our Health and Safety Consultants, Amalgamate, have been involved with one of our site teams who wanted to take this development on, in addition to them delivering some fabulous fit out & refurbishment works on their own projects.

construction company helmet health and safety

Worksmart Contracts Managing Directors Steve Neilson said: “We’re proud to be taking this step to help people with dyslexia. These site induction materials are extremely important in our industry. We’re delighted that they will now be available in a format which is suited to everyone’s needs.”

The site induction document is the first of a series of on-site document developments we are working on. As ever, we will keep you informed as things progress.

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We also offer Fire Door Inspection Services

 

Women in Construction Summit London 2019

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Back in May, we sent our very own Kellie Ann down to London to the Women in Construction Summit. Here, she writes about her experience at the event, and speaks about the issues that were up for discussion. 

I attended the Women in Construction Summit on the 16th May at the Olympia, London. This summit was a real buzz of women and men coming together to discuss issues currently facing people in construction. The event was focused on how different companies and organisations want to repaint the industry and resolve key issues, as well as focusing on eliminating any diversity issues going forward.

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I found it really interesting listening to the various speakers as they would give us examples of things they had come across during their own careers and how they had dealt with it. Sarah Beale from CITB was there discussing the problems she faced while she was CITB’s youngest ever CEO. People would frequently overlook her in the assumption that she couldn’t possibly be the CEO of the company, being that she was not only young, but also a woman.

Barbara Res was also there discussing how times are changing in construction for women, but not fast enough. As she was the head of construction for Trump Towers back in the 1970s, she has seen it all and can speak honestly about what she has experienced during her career. The evolution of construction was discussed, and it was pointed out that it is moving very slowly.

The percentage of women in construction has remained the same since the 1970s. Another topic of the day was that the construction industry employs such a diverse group of individuals already, and 30% of the workforce are foreigners. With Brexit around the corner this was highlighted, and it was predicted that there could be a significant impact to the construction industry leading to shortages.

A big focus of the day was flexible working hours. Being a male dominant field in the past, this hadn’t been too much of an issue. Now, however, with more and more women entering the construction industry and a rise in the amount of men taking more time to be with their families, it is now being acknowledged that the construction industry needs to rethink its position on flexible working hours. The goal is to change the current norm and have a system that works for both workplaces and employees.

Everyone at the seminar was on board with this and some companies gave examples of the measures they are already putting in place. Most have the same idea of ‘core hours’ in which everyone needs to be at their place of work, but the hours out with these can be worked to make their contracted hours as they please. Many have said this works well and allows for things such as doctors and dentist appointments as well as family commitments and child care.

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The onus on was being put on the companies to make flexible working hours happen. For women, changing maternity pay was also discussed. Many of the bigger construction companies offer 3-6 months full pay whilst on maternity leave. This was also mentioned as a selling point for women considering a career in construction, as starting a family can often threaten to derail a career.

Being a seminar focused on diversity, it was also highlighted that different religions and cultures need to be taken into consideration. An example was given of a Hindu employee who needed a week off to celebrate Diwali, rather than the time he was given off over the Christmas period. During Ramadan, Muslims fast during the day and can only eat when the sun is down. One company has already incorporated this into its guidelines and has allocated special areas praying.

Another important issue relating to diversity was raised during the conference that struck me. Someone suggested that while everyone has day-to-day problems they must deal with, people from minority groups may face more challenges or oppression than most. It was recommended that everyone keep mindful of things like this, in order to ensure a happier and more accepting workplace.

The whole thing was positive and inspiring and challenged companies to think of ways of bringing everyone together. Family open days seemed to be a popular thing and had already been hailed a success from several companies attending. I think implementing flexible working hours would be such an investment for companies as in this day and age, everyone has commitments outside of work and with mental health being highly focused on, maintaining a healthy work/life balance is so important.

— Kellie Ann Bryden

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Schools Back – End of a Busy Summer for Worksmart

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It’s official, the schools are back!

This marks the return to work various sectors in which we undertake project during the summer, such as colleges, Universities and Football Clubs. It’s been a very busy summer workload for Worksmart and we’ve been all over Scotland and the UK. Recent years have provided Worksmart Contracts with a busy work load throughout the summer shut downs in a variety of markets and 2019 has been no different.

Unfortunately, the Scottish weather hasn’t been much different to past summers either!

Challenging Schedule

This time of the year is always a challenging one. We need to ensure that we are fully prepared, as the logistics of the summer can be highly complex. Manufacturer shut downs, direct labour holidays, and sub-contractor’s workloads always have to be taken into consideration when undertaking projects during the summer.

It can be very challenging to manage all of these factors, but we try our very best to accommodate our client’s main contracts, their variations and whatever changes are requested along the way.

Traditionally our direct labour and sub-contractor labour levels rise 30%+ in this eight to ten-week period. Being able to call on skilled labour consistently during this time is another challenge we have to face.

This year has been another interesting and rewarding summer. Our teams have been engaged in some fabulous projects, from high level design and product specifications, to routine upgrades of various facilities that can only be carried out while staff and students are on holiday.

No two projects are ever the same.

Fire Doors and Passive Fire Protection

One thing we have been asked to assist in a lot this year is helping to educate our existing clients in Fire Doors and Passive Fire Protection. We have been able to assist with our fully certificated, vetted and third party approved Inspectors, Installers and maintainers.

We would recommend a visit to our sister company – Worksmart Fire Door Inspection – to find out more and to ask them to arrange a meeting to go through and assist in all matters involving Fire Doors and Passive Fire Protection. Our clients have found this service to be extremely useful and thus far we have helped designers, architects, surveyors and FM Managers.

Retraining our Focus

Now that staff and students are all back to work and our busy summer period has come to an end for another year, we like to turn our attention towards training and staff development. Currently we have several schemes in place, such as SSSTS, SMSTS, First Aid, PASMA, IPAF and Asbestos Awareness. All of these are either being implemented as the training matrix requires, or people are simply being sent on refresher courses.

In addition, we are proud to announce that we have started a further two Apprentice Joiners! One in the West and one in the East to help with the skills shortage we are currently facing in our construction industry. Worksmart are very proud of our Apprentice and Graduate Training Programmes along with our Schools Project and various work placements in all our offices.

I am sure you will get to meet the new apprentices soon and you should look forward to some upcoming case studies which we will be sharing in the next few weeks.

– Steve Neilson

Refurbishment Works at Park Hotel Ayrshire

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WORKSMART Contracts are delighted to announce that we have been selected as the refurbishment contractor for new works at The Park Hotel in Kilmarnock. The Ayrshire hotel, which is adjoined to Kilmarnock F.C’s Rugby Park Football Stadium, has been granted funding to modernise its facilities.

The works at the four-star hotel include a full refurbishment of the existing café/bar space within the hotel. A new restaurant will be developed in its place and be called The Park Hotel Restaurant. This will include the formation of new seating, a new servery and bar area and general demarcation of the space.

In addition, the project will see the creation of an all new conference and hospitality suite. Worksmart Contracts will do this by revamping the existing restaurant currently situated on the first floor of the hotel. The Park Hotel Suite will include a feature glazed partition, which will overlook the ground floor area.

Worksmart Contracts’ Owner Steve Neilson said: “Once again Worksmart are proud to working alongside other great Ayrshire businesses and helping to strengthen and grow our local community. It’s a matter of pride for us to be working projects like this in our home town and we can’t wait for people to see the results.”

The works will create up to 20 new jobs at The Park Hotel and be completed sometime in the Autumn.

Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to keep up to date with the latest updates from the project. Feeling impatient and want to see some finished projects? Head over to our Case Studies page.

Life as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor

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Having recently joined the Worksmart team through our Graduate Program, Cameron Maudsley talks to us about life as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor. Cameron has a bright future ahead of him and is a great role model for other young people looking to enter the industry.

How long have you been with Worksmart Contracts and how have you found settling in?

I have been at Worksmart for just under 2 months so far but since my first day I have felt very welcome within the company. After being introduced and working alongside the team, it is obvious that Worksmart Contracts go to serious lengths to provide an enjoyable and positive working environment. This helps to ensure the team are as productive and efficient as possible.

After only 2 months of employment I have been accepted as a valued employee, making the settling in process very enjoyable and straightforward.

Describe your role and the responsibilities you have within Worksmart?

The team have been incredibly eager to push my abilities forward by consistently adding new roles and responsibilities to my job. The tasks I’ve been given the responsibility of dealing with include: attending sites and writing up reports, engaging and building relationships with subcontractors, as well as taking measurements from architect’s drawings.

Is this what you’ve always wanted to do?

During my years throughout high school I always took an interest Mathematics and Physics as they were based on calculations that were applicable to everyday life. However, I had no thoughts as to what career path I wanted to pursue. After carefully researching my options and discovering the Quantity Surveying (BSc) course at Edinburgh Napier University, I was intrigued. The concept that a job could involve problem solving in both an office and on-site appealed to me and encouraged me to apply for the course. Working in the construction field as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor in Worksmart Contracts has enhanced my enthusiasm for the job and reassured me of my decision.

How did your working relationship with Worksmart materialise?

I was given the opportunity to work for Worksmart Contracts through Edinburgh Napier University after my course leader received an email from the Commercial Manager offering an opportunity to interview regarding a Trainee Quantity Surveyor position.

How would you describe Worksmart as a company and how do you feel you have been supported as a graduate?

Worksmart have been very supportive of my career by ensuring that I am always taking on new tasks to expand my knowledge of the field of work. They have invested in me as an individual and are constantly pushing me forward so that I may learn new skills to be the become an experienced Quantity Surveyor at the end of my training.

Do you feel students at university are given enough encouragement and support to move into grad schemes?

For my first few years in university, I was aware that graduate apprenticeship schemes existed but wasn’t aware of how beneficial they could be. My time spent working as a Trainee Quantity Surveyor has expanded my knowledge which has helped me grasp concepts of my course that will help me in my future years of studying.

How do you think Worksmart’s graduate program compares to others that you have read about, spoke to people about etc?

Personally, Worksmart’s graduate program offers a lot more benefits to other programs that I am aware of through course mates, friends and colleagues. This is due to the value I have been given as an employee opposed to being treated like a number in a system which has been the case for multiple friends working graduate apprenticeships within the construction industry.

Where would you like to be in 5 years career wise?

In 5 years’ time I would hope to be a fully Qualified Quantity Surveyor and dealing with my own individual projects within Worksmart.

What’s your best piece of advice for someone in the position you were in 5 years ago?

The advice I’d give to someone in the position I was in 5 years ago would be to encourage them to ensure they choose a career path based on the subjects they enjoy the most. Having a solid foundation in the core subjects involved in a job is key to advancing your career.

When you’re not in the office or on site, what do you like getting up to?

Outside of my job I enjoy playing guitar, mountaineering and travelling.

If you could choose to do any other job in the world, what would it be and why?

If I didn’t have the opportunity to be a Quantity Surveyor and had the option of any job, I would have chosen to be an astronomer due to my interest in physics and space.

Interested in joining the Worksmart Family? View our recruitment page here. 

Laying the Foundations – Gary Roberston, Operations Manager

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This interview is designed to uncover the stories behind the people at Worksmart and their careers until this point. How you got to where you are today, essentially.

Gary, thanks for sitting down to answer a few questions today! Hope we haven’t caught you on a busy day?

Most days are quite busy to be honest… I don’t mind sparing a few minutes for a quick chat though.

How was your school life? Were you a good/bad student? Did you do as well as you could have in terms of grades?

School life for me was very sport orientated, I was very active in school, especially with football and squash. I wasn’t a particularly great student but academically I passed every exam that I studied for.

It’s difficult to say if I did as well as I could have done; probably not, as my main focus at school was sport. Every day I was either training or competing so even though it probably shouldn’t have been, sport was my number one priority back then.

Did construction appeal to you when you were young?

Sport was always my number one choice for a career, but after receiving a bad knee injury, any hopes I had of pursuing it as a career were dashed. When I was looking for a job it was very hard to get an apprenticeship in my area, so I knocked on every construction builder’s door until finally it paid off and I got an apprenticeship in joinery.

What were your next steps after high school?

I went straight into construction, through my apprenticeship. I was lucky that way. So many kids leave school not knowing what they want to do and with no structure. That’s why I’m so pleased when I see the apprentices coming through Worksmart. They’re given such a great opportunity and education and at Worksmart we’re helping so many people find a career; great careers too!

At that point could you have imagined yourself in the position you are now?

I was very fortunate that I came off the tools at aged 26 which is very early. I was involved in major refits, so I was working very close with the top management and that is when I decided that I wanted to progress. I think having that competitive edge in me from my sporting days helped me in that sense. I was always looking to improve and better myself.

What came before Worksmart professionally for you?

I was with Morris and Spottiswood working on Universities, retailers. I have worked on most sectors of the building trade, so I feel I have gained experience on all aspects of construction.

When did you first hear about Worksmart and what were your initial thoughts?

I had known about Worksmart for several years working in the fitout sector. What impressed me most was the professionalism and the high standard of work. You’d see a Worksmart job and everything would have been done to a better standard. Everything would be cleaner, more polished and that bit more impressive. For me, as someone that’s always trying to move up and progress, I saw Worksmart as the company I should be aspiring towards working for.

If you could go back and give 16-year-old you any advice, what would it be?

Don’t smash your knee! That would be my best advice! But also, work hard and always try to be better than you were yesterday. If you do that, and stay humble, you’ll get on OK in life.

A Day in The Life of a Trainee Quantity Surveyor: Dylan Parker

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Hi Dylan, thanks for sitting down with me today. Before we delve into your day, could you give me a brief description of your job and your responsibilities within Worksmart?

No problem at all. I’ve been in the position for 18 months which also involves attending Glasgow Caledonian University one day a week. My role consists of assisting in all estimating and commercial aspects of the business. Although I mostly assist, I also have my own estimates and jobs to run as well – under the supervision of either the Commercial Director or the Estimating Director. It’s been fantastic to have been given so much responsibility despite being relatively new to the company.

What time do you wake up in the morning?

5.45am.

What’s your morning routine?

Shower, breakfast, get ready and then out the door and straight to the gym for a workout before heading into the office.

What’s for breakfast?

Porridge or toast. Or sometimes both!

When do you arrive at the office?

Usually about 7.50am.

What do you prioritise when you arrive?

Emails, if there are any. And then I’ll either pick up from where I left off the day before or start the next thing on my list.

What’s the biggest hurdle you need to overcome in your job?

That’s a difficult one. Probably my inexperience and being young. I’m only 20, so sometimes people don’t really take you seriously because of your age. Despite this, I have been given massive support from Worksmart and have been made to feel like I’m an integral part of the team. Working with such a great company and with such inspiring people is added motivation for me.

What part of your job do you love the most?

Meeting new people and speaking to different types of people. I enjoy this because it gives me the opportunity to learn from new people every day. You should always assume the person you’re speaking to knows something you don’t.

How many meetings do you have during the day?

I have the odd meeting, but I do quite a lot of speaking on the phone, I like that. I didn’t at first as I was quite nervous, but I’ve been gaining experience as time has gone on and I’m becoming more comfortable doing things that previously made me apprehensive.

When will you leave the office?

Usually 5.05pm. If there is more work that needs to be done, I’ll stay behind and do it though. You see a lot of people doing this at Worksmart. Everyone pulls their weight and has great desire to work hard, even when they’re not on the clock!

Does the work continue at home?

Not for Worksmart, but I have to do a lot of Uni work when I get home. Because I’m only there one day per week, there’s a lot to be done at home. It can be stressful from time to time, with such a heavy workload, but I’m lucky to be in this position and intend to put in the hard work to repay the faith Worksmart have shown in me and forge a successful career here.

A Day in the Life of: Barry Wilson, Estimating Director

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A Day in The Life of: Worksmart’s Estimating Director

Worksmart’s Estimating Director Barry Wilson took some time out of his busy schedule to sit down and talk us through an average day in his world.

Hi Barry, thanks for sitting down with me today. Before we delve into your day, could you give me a brief description of your position?

My job title is Estimating Director which entails the overseeing and managing of the pre-contract commercial and estimating function within Worksmart.

What time do you wake up in the morning?

Normally about 6.30am.

What kind of breakfast do you have to prepare you for your day?

I don’t eat breakfast. I only drink water in the mornings and quite a lot more throughout the day!

When do you arrive at the office?

It generally varies but will usually be any time between 7.30am and 8am.

What do you prioritise when you arrive?

First of all, I check on any emails from the night before then delve into whatever the priority is for that day, so long as any late-night e-mails received don’t need urgent attention.

What’s Next?

Whatever the next priority is for that day and that week and beyond. We tend to have a minimum of at least 3 to 4 deadlines to meet in any one week, so it may involve getting the team involved in take offs or getting packages out for pricing to sub-contractors or concluding bids and tenders for submission.

With estimating you’re always working to a deadline so you’re constantly prioritising which tender is due next or what package you need to get out next to make sure you get that tender in on time.

What part of the day do you least look forward to?

Probably first thing in the morning! I’m not much of a morning person even though I get up relatively early.

What part of the day do you most look forward to?

I most look forward to my dinner!

Seriously though, I enjoy the variety of people you come across in the day-to-day goings on in my role. Most are from the professional community, but others can be end-user clients that ordinarily don’t get involved with projects, so when that instance occurs you need to give them a guiding hand through it. That can entail practical advice as well as design input. The variety makes the role interesting as you’re not pigeon-holed with one type of client every day.

When will you leave the office?

It can vary but generally between 5.30pm and 6pm. Family life dictates those times with Dad’s taxi needed for football, child minder pick-ups and the likes. Although if there’s an important tender due in then that can be much later. The midnight oil gets burned now and again.

Does the work continue at home?

No, I try not to. I made a conscious decision recently to take email off of my phone and I feel a lot better for it. This is especially noticeable on holiday, where one minute you can be relaxing by the pool and all of a sudden, an email comes through and it plays on your mind till you get back to the office. Modern technology has taken over our lives I think to the detriment of our own wellbeing at times!