Getting remote right in construction

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One of the legacies of the pandemic is the move to remote working, and a recent survey has found that 60 per cent of people want this flexibility to continue. Four in five businesses (79 per cent) said they did not expect to return to pre-pandemic levels, in terms of people working full-time in an office.

The construction sector has not traditionally been one to embrace home working. But while some roles still need to be site-based, many businesses in the sector have found remote working suits certain jobs.

This is evidenced by current recruitment. A quick search on Indeed shows that over 300 jobs are being advertised that are home-based, including positions for consultants, architects, project managers and estimators.

This represents a cultural shift, which, in theory, should remove potential barriers and help to drive a more diverse, representative industry. But, for this to be a long-term change, ways of working must be robust, agile and responsive to user needs.

The key to remote success

Technology clearly plays an important role in successful remote working. However, there is more to it than having the right tools in place.

Many businesses struggle with technology rollouts. Research estimates that anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of implementation projects fail or miss the desired return on investment (ROI).

“From strategy to procurement and implementation to ongoing management, communication and engagement are essential, both inside the business and across the wider supply chain and partners”

The reason is rarely because of the technology. It is about a failed change management process, from the moment the business case for investment is written. From strategy to procurement and implementation to ongoing management, communication and engagement are essential, both inside the business and across the wider supply chain and partners.

Ironically, change management can be harder in remote environments. How do you make the right connections between teams?

Formalised and standardised processes go a good way towards driving positive behaviour as they set the expectations for how teams will work together remotely. Linking this to job roles helps people to understand the part they play within an organization, and joins the dots between technology, team members and tasks. It is important to focus on the benefits for different user groups, and how any solutions can make work more efficient and drive better performance.

Working in the cloud

One of the largest benefits of a remote approach is that team members are no longer constrained by geography or time – you can bring together the right team for the task, irrespective of location or time zone.

Whether it’s a large multinational, regional business or a smaller firm that has people working in different locations, this connection makes the task of integrating different groups within construction easier than ever.

With the right tools, people can work in shared, virtual spaces, which provide a digital equivalent to gathering around a desk. This can happen in real-time, or via online meetings or in-software, or on-demand, with people working on shared files, and using email, comment and chat functionalities to run conversational threads.

This makes it easy to keep construction teams in sync and allows them to review the latest project documents at any time. This can speed up tasks such as design reviews by allowing stakeholders to mark up and collaborate instantaneously on the same documents. At the same time, an audit trail is created, which helps companies to manage risk.

Having the right software, underpinned by regular internal engagement and positive reinforcement about the benefits, can help organisations to bridge the gap with their teams. The benefits include improved performance and connectivity between teams, with projects more visible across the business – with time savings on tasks, reduced costs and more effectively managed risk.

Studio in Bluebeam Revu allows users to join a live collaboration session, with an activity feed showing every comment and change in real time. With integrations across key software, in-built tools for measurement and control, and detailed search functionality, project efficiency is dramatically improved. Find out more here.

James Chambers is regional director, UKI, at Bluebeam

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