Over the course of the past few weeks, we have witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic change the daily lives of people across the globe. Grocery stores are struggling to restock supplies, schools have closed, bars and restaurants across multiple states in the US have also eliminated their dine-in option, and many companies are transitioning their employees to work from home. While the news has at times been frightening, the pandemic has also been a good reminder of how much of an impact we can have on each other and the importance of embracing our roles of good neighbors and citizens.
In the wake of this news, our team at UNIFI would like to reinforce our commitment to journeying alongside our customers in any environment as our number one priority. In our hometown of Vegas where so much of the economy relies on the service industry, we feel fortunate to have work that is easily continued remotely. We have the processes and tools in place to continue business as usual and will continue to support our customers’ BIM data, project insight, and content management needs to the highest standard of platform reliability. Your projects are certainly not stopping, and neither are we.
We’re aware that many of our customers and AEC firms across the globe are actively encouraging or mandating their employees to work from home. While some AEC firms have facilitated work from home policies prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, for many of our customers it was on a case-by-case basis and not accepted as a long-term option for employees. This is partly due to the high level of collaboration required for AEC firms, as well as the fact that employees must develop a specialized skill set for remote work to be successful.
In continued support of our focus on journeying with our customers, we’ve created a list of tips for AEC firms to successfully transition to working from home without skipping a beat:
1. HAVE THE HARDWARE, CLOUD-BASED SOFTWARE, AND TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS YOU NEED
Your employer has likely issued you a laptop as well as the software you need to be successful. To put this to use, having a solid internet connection is a must. Take it upon yourself to get up to speed 😉 and understand there are limitations on your household internet speed and that will affect your VPN connection or cloud-based applications. Considering employers across the globe are implementing work from home policies and schools are out, chances are you’re not the only one in your home or neighborhood who needs access to the internet. As a result, you may find that your download speed is slower than usual. On top of this, ISPs are within their rights to throttle speeds during peak times. Many AEC Firms utilize a VPN connection for their employees to access their network outside of the office. Here is an interesting article on what else your ISP can do regarding your bandwidth. .
ISP internet speeds aside, do you know that your VPN server will also further limit your browsing speed as you access the network? Server bandwidth is limited so if 100 people are sharing a 1000 mbps server, that means that each person can average no more than 10 mbps. Please note that encryption protocols take some of your bandwidth as well. As a solution for this, I choose to use cloud-based applications like BIM 360 Design and UNIFI wherever possible to only access the VPN when I must.
Virtual workspaces such as Bluebeam Studio, Microsoft Teams, and Slack have made communication and collaboration for remote employees a breeze. However, responses are sometimes not as quick as simply poking your head over the cubicle wall or walking to your boss’ office. You’ll need to be resourceful and learn to problem-solve more independently than you may be accustomed to in an office setting. This doesn’t mean not communicating with your colleagues though, in fact, we recommend over communicating with the tools above. Slack gives you the option to set status’ when you’re away or unavailable. We recommend taking advantage of these to set expectations with your colleagues when you’re not available to reply right away. With clearly defined tasks, you’ll be able to easily communicate with these collaboration tools to and keep your team in the loop on what you’ve accomplished over the course of your workday.
3. TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY
As we just mentioned, since there is no boss looking over your shoulder at home, there is a continuous pressing need to get your tasks accomplished. Simply showing up and sitting at your desk will no longer show your boss you’re working. You’ll need to be a self-starter and limit distractions. If you have young children at home, consider finding some help during your workday just as you would if you were in the office. As tempting as it may be to rock the pajamas, getting dressed in the morning as you normally would is a must. While remote work has endless benefits, your work life and home life can quickly bleed into each other and affect your performance if you don’t set specific working hours. Also, set aside a working office. Working from the kitchen table can open your workspace to countless distractions versus working somewhere where you can close the door to the laundry machine or the television running.
While some AEC firms may have employees already accustomed to working from home, others will struggle to adapt and obtain the necessary tools and skills to be successful. We will continue to provide tips and tricks for working from home for AEC firms as well as provide first-hand insight into how other AEC Firms are adjusting to a life working from home in future posts. In the meantime, please note that UNIFI, impart due to the tips we’ve implemented in this post, is fully prepared to continue to provide the best in class products and support to our customers.
Please feel free to comment below and let us know, what are some tricks you’ve implemented that have helped you work from home in an AEC firm?
Until our next post, we wish you health and safety from our family to yours.