Schedule Compression Effects on Labor Productivity

Awad S. Hanna, Ph.D., P.E.
Professor and Chair of Construction
Engineering and Management
Program Department of Civil
Environmental Engineering
University of Wisconsin Madison
2314 Engineering Hall
1415 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706
Tel: (608) 263-8903
Fax: (608) 265-9860


During a typical construction project, a contractor may find that the time originally available, or normally expected to perform its work, has been severely reduced. To finish the project by the completion date, the contractor is forced to find a way to speed up the progress of its work, or “compress the schedule.” The most common way to compress the schedule is either to work longer hours (overtime), add more workers (overmanning), or implement multiple shifts (shift work). Schedule compression poses a problem to contractors because it negatively impacts labor productivity and decreases profits for the contractor. Understanding how schedule compression affects labor productivity is crucial for increasing project performance, avoiding disputes, and maintaining sound financial status of one’s company. While models have been developed to quantify the loss of productivity resulting from schedule compression in other industries, a similar model for the sheet metal contracting trade did not exist. This study shows how schedule compression affects sheet metal contractors’ labor productivity, and quantifies the effects of overtime, shift work, and overmanning. Models that quantify the impact of each on the labor productivity of sheet metal contractors are presented. Recommendations for the contractor are provided to help reduce the impact of schedule compression on labor productivity. [Hard copy includes accompanying software CD.]