AECO firms have come to the realization that they will need to adapt their business to have a portion of their workforce working remotely in the short term, with a potential future of having some employees remaining out of the office on a permanent basis.
Benefits of Remote Work
This shift in personnel location has many positive aspects to it, including increased cost-savings, productivity, and overall happiness. To begin, AECO firm owners can reduce operating costs by having some or all their designers, engineers and administrative staff work from home. Companies will not need as much physical square footage when their employees do not use the office space. This translates to lower overhead regarding electricity costs, internet bandwidth and office supplies.
There are advantages to reduced travel time as well. For instance, when a consultant is expected to travel to a destination for a “face-to-face” meeting or engagement they incur travel and per diem costs. Additionally, the lessened or non-existent commute time both eliminates late arrivals and occasionally means more time spent on productive work.
The flexible working hours allow employees to optimize how they manage daily tasks. Live technical support can be offered around the clock if schedules and time zones are accommodated. Ineffective meetings take a backseat to must-have virtual conversations or are eliminated completely. In fact, employees that work remotely can be up to 13% more productive compared to traditional employees according to a study conducted by Stanford University.
Finally, remote work employees have been shown to have increased happiness when their work-life balance is improved. Offering this as a benefit to potential hires also makes your firm more appealing and will lead to hiring the best employees, regardless of location or living situation.
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Necessities for Success
These advantages, however, rely on strong communication. One of the important cornerstones of this new work set up is accurate and real-time communication channels between managers and employees.
There are many tools that have been introduced into the workplace via technology that helps us be more productive and collaborative. Some include:
- Live collaboration tools including Autodesk BIM 360 that allow disparate teams to actively work together on document markups, project plans, BIM models and comment on the current state of documents.
- A cloud-based storage system that ensures the latest files are available throughout the organization. For example, Panzura effectively manages AECO firm data in real-time. Combine with Workspot Virtual Desktop Interfaces to replicate both standard and GPU workstations in a virtual environment.
- The BIMrx application suite with custom-tailored AECO tools for streamlining workflows and simplifying daily tasks. Tools like BIMrx Cloud Manager ensure network synchronization between BIM 360 and designer hard drives while BIMrx MEP and BIMrx Fabrication introduce tools for accomplishing daily tasks faster and with greater accuracy.
Having the right tools must also be combined with an agile mindset to ensure success within disparate teams. This process was originally a software development cycle leveraged by technology companies that encompassed various approaches under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams.
Agile has been co-opted by various AECO firms as an overall business and project management strategy to empower employees to be more self-sufficient and enable them to take more ownership of their successes, particularly when working away from their team. This is done by dividing the tasks into short phases of work and always reassessing and readapting plans as the process is documented. By delivering tasks incrementally instead of all at once, agile allows for greater adaptability.
If you implement the values and principles of an agile environment and leverage the techniques discussed, remote work can breed innovation, worldwide collaboration, creativity, and improved worker morale. There will be some challenges to adapting to this new style of working but with time it can become an active part of your organization.
How Microdesk Can Help
At Microdesk, we have been enthusiastically working with our clients to ensure they have the foundation for the evolving workplace. As a global technology consultant, we have significant knowledge and experience in the process of preparing and adapting our business to a remote work environment and helping clients do the same. We offer holistic IT solutions via the CIO Advisory team and remote trainings on a variety of topics like leveraging remote work tools and virtual desktop technology. We even host free webinars on key industry platforms to ensure your team is always updated on the latest tips and tricks.
For more information on how to access the tools and strategies needed, call us today at 1-800-336-3375