Providing Technology Guidance During COVID-19

Written by Microdesk’s Strategic Business Consultant Manager Chris Fercho
Originally published in UK Construction Week.

While AEC businesses are adapting to remote work and adjusting schedules based on restrictions, many technology industry leaders have announced ways to better support the transition with free and expanded access. Technology platforms are integral to how those in the architecture, engineering and construction industries manage their project lifecycles and how teams retain access in order to keep it business as usual.

Companies such as Autodesk, Bluebeam and Panzura are offering free and extended access to their Cloud Collaboration products. For those with ongoing Revit projects, Autodesk has made the commercial use of BIM 360 Docs, BIM 360 Design, Fusion 360, Fusion Team, AutoCAD Web and Mobile, and Shotgun free until May 31st. Options for transitioning projects into Named User Subscriptions after the period ends are also available. Similarly, enterprise cloud storage company Panzura is offering a free Cloud VM filer for up to six months. With the choice between on-premises and cloud-based file management virtually decided, the availability of these products offer both a trial of premium software while simplifying collaboration among disparate teams.

The team at Microdesk has also developed applications to help clients that are offered with free trials. The BIMrx BIM 360 Bulk Loader, part of the Microdesk BIMrx line, allows BIM Administrators to quickly and easily add new projects and files to BIM 360. It also provides the tools to roundtrip data between Revit and Microsoft Excel for improved collaboration between Revit and non-Revit users. The free trial is available for use through May 31st.

Of course, assisting clients with their projects starts with ensuring a diverse team of consultants, technical support, administrative staff, and sales professionals have what they need professionally and personally. Flattening the curve is essential to the greater wellbeing, but with it comes a decrease of the often under-appreciated official and unofficial in-person conversations. Keeping morale high, communication easy, and teamwork simplified is paramount to the work and the success of clients.

As a global BIM and EAM consulting firm, Microdesk has significant knowledge and experience in working remotely while staying on schedule with minimal disruptions. Tools like video conferencing, message boards and chat interfaces have been engrained in most employees’ daily lives for some time now. That does not mean, however, that the company has not had to pivot during the crisis. Meetings have gone from conference rooms to home offices, happy hours have become virtual events, and increased check-in frequency give plenty of time for questions, concerns or much needed watercooler talk.

Beyond the day to day work of business, the company recognizes that everyone could use some extra fun. Microsoft Teams pages are filled with pictures of animal “coworkers,” parents moonlighting as teachers and resources on how to contribute to local communities during the crisis. Weekly photo and video contests give employees a topic to gather around, and connect with each other on a more personal level. Unofficial video happy hours have even been held by team leads trying to bring some normalcy to an extraordinary situation.

In a time of crisis, businesses that can withstand the storm need to provide for both their clients and their employees. Microdesk is constantly working with their consultants, partners and leadership to ensure that the AEC industry can thrive now and in the future.