AEC FIRMS: MAINTAINING CULTURE & EVALUATING YOUR TECH STACK IN A REMOTE WORK SETTING

How are you? No really… how are you? It’s been a few weeks since the world as we know it began to turn upside down and many, if not all, AEC Firms have now transitioned to remote work. While some AEC firms already had a remote work structure in place, IT studios struggled keeping up with support tickets as newly remote employees found themselves not only trying to figure out where to set up their desk, but also how to stay best connected both in terms of technology and culture.

We posted tips for working from home for an AEC firm last week and highlighted how leveraging cloud based platforms (such as BIM360 and UNIFI), open collaboration tools like Bluebeam Studio, Tips for working from homeand establishing a solid routine will help AEC firms through the rapid changes that come with remote work. As we all work through this transition, Gautam Ramchandra Shenoy DBIA, BIM Director at Steinberg Hart, published an excellent blog post walking through their tech stack.

One may ask, is it even worthwhile to spend the time to get a great remote work set up or should we just wait for the COVID-19 threat to pass? Exactly how long can we expect the remote work atmosphere to continue? Just last week, Technology Review published an article talking about the timeframe we’re looking at for practicing ‘social distancing’.  While the article acknowledges that while we all want things to go back to normal and quickly, they likely won’t. Therefore,  optimizing your remote work policy is critical. 

Guatam’s post highlights how we can not only make a remote setting work, but how we can also use it as an opportunity to improve. He said, “…at no point in time, have we been able to step back, connect the dots and review the resources at hand.” While a set of deliverables or construction drawings may be part of the consumer product within AEC Firms, at this point other toolsets and how we fine-tune collaboration is key. While once COVID-19 passes it’s likely that AEC firms will go back to an office work setting, the enhanced connectivity and skills developed during this time will remain and benefit workflows.

Architecture firm, tvsdesign, is another great example of an AEC firm transitioning to a remote work setting seamlessly. Prior to the latest updates of the COVID-19 pandemic, tvsdesign scheduled a mandatory work from home day in order to test their remote work capabilities firm-wide. The COVID-19 pandemic shook up their plans however and tvsdesign went fully remote prior to their scheduled mandatory work from home day. Quickly rising to the challenge, their IT Studio quickly compiled numerous resources that were clean, concise and well detailed to make things as easy as possible. They’re also managing to keep culture a top priority by having employees’ webcams on to collaborate during their team meetings. In addition, they have continued to have breakfast together on Fridays, just as they did in the office prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Keeping such traditions and allowing for social interactions beyond typical meetings is a great way to improve morale and keep team members feeling connected.

In addition to Gautam’s article, our AEC work from home tips, and the real life example of how tvsdesign is spearheading the transition, AIA California has published a web page with some fantastic resources for employees and employers alike that you may also find useful. Here, you won’t only find remote workplace policies but also legal concerns and support resources for small businesses. While this particular page is tailored specifically to California, there are resources here that you can take advantage of regardless of where you are located.

Finally, Autodesk has also set up a resource center to help you with their software in a remote setting. We highly recommend reviewing their best practices for accessing Autodesk software if you’re having any difficulties. In case you haven’t heard, they’ve also extended the ability to purchase new multi-user subscription plans to August 7, 2020. Previously, they were going to begin transitioning customers to named users starting May 7, 2020 but this has been extended which is a sigh of relief for users as they are still in the process of getting comfortable conducting business as usual.

We hope these resources help as you continue to establish your “new normal” remote work routine. Stay tuned for our next post where we’ll cover what the future may hold for remote work and AEC firms.  In the meantime, we want to hear from you! Please comment below with any resources that have helped you in the transition to remote work and the greatest challenge you’ve encountered so far.

Leave a Reply