We’ve recently been speaking to Stephen Wightman, Regional Director at Faithful+Gould, specially on the MMC and its success at aiding EDI in the industry…

Q. Increased use of MMC within the built environment has been increasingly emphasised, how has Faithful + Gould been advancing the uptake of MMC?

Faithful + Gould recognised a little while ago several “perspectives” related to construction that would have an increasing influence on all aspects of the industry over the coming years. These are Net Zero, Social Value, Community Regeneration and Modern Methods of Construction. We appointed individuals to lead these “perspectives” with skills from both a consultancy and project delivery perspective. Consequently, we can now provide a range of services and advice to our clients to facilitate their understanding and assist in the implementation of these perspectives, including MMC, in their programmes and projects.

Q. Faithful + Gould has been a consultant on some of the nation’s most significant development schemes – how did you emphasise the benefits of MMC through your consultancy work?

As our MMC experience and knowledge is independent of a manufacturer or system, and therefore truly agnostic, we are uniquely placed to assist our clients in their MMC journey.

We undertake our MMC Options Analysis Process at a strategic or early engagement RIBA Stage 0 to identify the “best fit” MMC solution and provide an independent assessment of the options. We engage with the design team throughout RIBA stages 1-4 to ensure that the output designs consider the requirements and parameters of MMC. We also assist our clients in managing the procurement, engagement and delivery phase of projects with MMC providers. In summary, our independence allows us to act as “Client-Side Guardians” for the entire project or programme and ensure maximum value and minimum risk when engaging in an MMC approach.

Q. Modern Methods of Construction has been noted as a space which has been more successful at promoting equality and diversity compared to traditional construction. What do you attribute to this and can it be broadened to the wider industry?

There are two main reasons.

Firstly, because this area is seen as being a developing aspect of construction and is gaining profile in educational establishments. It is becoming the subject of more and more dissertations and final year projects and I believe that this is attracting people to opportunities in the space. The MMC industry itself is also increasing its professionalism and the skillsets within the teams and this is drawing professionally qualified individuals, who are likely to be more gender diverse, into the industry.

The second reason is because factory workplaces are easier working environments for people with various forms of disability or other constraints to access. The MMC environment has more regular hours, a regular working location, a more controlled working environment, fewer unpredictable risks and changes and a greater social strength and team cultures. This makes it significantly more accessible for people with disabilities or other care or life commitments.

Q. How has the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the use of MMC?

The pandemic has absolutely accelerated MMC and for a variety of reasons. From a physical perspective, the working environment of a factory is easier to control than that of a site as generally there is more space, working patterns can be more easily shifted to reduce social contact and the repeatable nature of the processes allow better introduction of Covid controls. In addition, travelling arrangements are generally easier as they are more regular, local and tend to be in discrete groups or bubbles.

Secondly, there is a wellbeing and mental health aspect to the benefit of working in a regular location and with the same group of people every week. Everyone in the team is generally invested in the same community, they are well known to each other and consequently people feel more comfortable in accessing the workplace during these uncertain and challenging times.