Last edited 21 Apr 2021

Main author

CIOB Institute / association Website

Productivity in building design and construction

Productivity is the relationship between goods and services produced and the resources used. This concept is critical for the development of any business activity, as those that do not improve their productivity compared to their competitors, are likely to fail.

An increase in production does not necessarily translate into an increase in productivity. To increase productivity, all processes that constitute a company’s activity must be analysed and their efficiency optimised. The resources necessary to increase productivity are:

Capital investment:

Improved management through a reduction in:

  • Work involved in the product.
  • Work involved in the process.
  • Unproductive time.

Productivity must not be confused with performance, which is the relationship between forecast and executed work.

Loss in productivity (in terms of time of execution) results from inefficiencies in the total time invested throughout an operation.

The time taken for activities can be broken down into the following:

  • Base work content. This is the quantity of work that would be required to manufacture a product or develop an activity if the project were to be perfect, if the procedure, manufacturing or execution method were ideal or if there were no losses in time attributable to any cause. This is the minimum possible time for execution.
  • Unnecessary work. This is additional work required due to poor design or specification of the product, or inefficient production or operating methods.
  • Ineffective or unproductive time, due to deficiencies in management or deficiencies in workers.

This text in this article is based on an extract from CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT, by Eugenio Pellicer, Víctor Yepes, José M.C. Teixeira, Helder Moura and Joaquín Catala. Valencia, Porto, 2008. The original manual is part of the Construction ManagersLibrary – created within the Leonardo da Vinci (LdV) project No: PL/06/B/F/PP/174014, entitled: “COMMON LEARNING OUTCOME FOR EUROPEAN MANAGERS IN CONSTRUCTION”. It is reproduced here in a modified form with the kind permission of the Chartered Institute of Building.


NB Social Value and Design of the Built Environment, published by the Supply Chain Sustainability School in 2017, suggests that: ‘Productivity is about doing (or achieving) more with the same. It can relate to financial returns, and also to outcomes such as learning and health.’

See also: What is productivity, and how do you measure it?

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki


To start a discussion about this article, click 'Add a comment' above and add your thoughts to this discussion page.

Designing Buildings Anywhere

Get the Firefox add-on to access 20,000 definitions direct from any website

Find out more Accept cookies and
don't show me this again