In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent work from home policies that companies around the globe were quick to enforce, many members of the construction industry have found themselves adapting to the use of remote tech — an unpredicted shift that will be the new reality for the foreseeable future. 

Thankfully, the construction industry is not alone in their transition to remote work and there is a surplus of tech tools available to help architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms adjust to their new virtual reality.

Remote Technology Tools for AEC Firms

AEC, historically paper-heavy and in-person industries, were hit hard by COVID-19 and the resulting global work from home orders. The CDC guidelines encouraged firms to keep their employees at home and to lean on remote tech tools as much as possible. 

In response, many AEC employees had to learn how to translate their previously in-person responsibilities into the virtual sphere. The good news is: the remote tech industry has been more than prepared for the global spotlight to be turned on them. There is a surplus of remote tech tools designed specifically to keep displaced coworkers connected with one another, help teams stay on top of their projects from a safe distance, and track newly paperless document systems.

Remote Meeting Technology for Construction, Engineering, and Architecture

To get the most out of your remote meetings, turn to video conferencing software. With the right video conferencing software your remote meeting will have the same atmosphere and comfortability as the meetings you held at your firm pre-COVID-19. The remote meeting technology we recommend for construction, engineering, and architecture firms — whether your team is made up of tech savvy individuals or tech tool newbies — are:

Zoom

If you’ve had your first run-in with video conferencing technology due to the pandemic, odds are you were introduced through Zoom. The cloud-based teleconferencing software reported 300 million daily participants in April of this year and in turn “Zooming” has become synonymous with “videoconferencing.” This rise to prominence is due in large part to Zoom’s user-friendly platform, with so many millions of individuals familiarizing themselves with video conferencing software for the first time, they need reliable software they can trust to keep them connected to their coworkers. Zoom has proven itself to the masses to be that software.

How to use Zoom to conduct remote meetings:

  • Sign up for a Zoom  account (free accounts are limited to 40 minute meetings, paid accounts start at $14.99/month)
    • Your meeting members like contractors, or other third party vendors, don’t have to create an account to join the meeting
  • Update your camera, microphone, and speakers to ensure you have a clear connection during your meeting
  • Schedule a Zoom meeting or, if your team is ready and waiting, start an instant meeting
  • Invite users to join your meeting by sharing the Zoom link with them (be sure to include the meeting password if your meeting is private)
  • Conduct your meeting!

Skype for Business

Due to its continued accessibility through Microsoft and Office 365, Skype for Business has remained a globally favored online meeting platform. 64% of companies with 500 employees or more use Skype for Business in large part due to instant messaging, video conferencing, screen sharing, and conference calls for up to 25 people being offered for free.

Additionally, Skype for Business allows access to shared PowerPoint slides, whiteboard collaboration, and desktop sharing. Follow along with Microsoft’s guide and you’ll be in your next virtual meeting in no time.

How to start a video conference call on Skype for Business:

  • In the Skype for Business main window, in your Contacts list, hold down the Ctrl key and click the names of your contacts to select them for your meeting
  • Right-click the selection, and click Start a Conference Call
  • Your chosen contacts will be notified of the call 
  • Conduct your conference call!

GoToMeeting

Due in large part to its exceptionally user-friendly system, GoToMeeting is the remote meeting software preferred by many businesses making the transition from in-person to remote work. The interface couldn’t be more simple: users can start or join a meeting by providing prospective participants with a custom URL-as-password to enter the online conference room. And thanks to the GoToMeeting app, anyone on your team can join high-quality video meetings from the mobile device of their choosing.

How to use GoToMeeting for video conferencing:

  • From your computer or app, start a GoToMeeting Session
  • Check to make sure your webcam is connected and begin streaming
  • Share your webcam from the GoToMeeting toolbar with your meeting attendees
  • Conduct your video conference!

Pair your preferred video meeting app with a reliable, easy-to-use web conferencing camera like the Meeting Owl. 

 

Project Management Software

Now that you have the video conferencing software required to stay connected with your team it is time to focus on obtaining the project management software you need to ensure productivity doesn’t suffer just because your company is working remotely. If you are used to collaborating with your coworkers in-person, the shift to using virtual collaboration tools may be a daunting one for you. Have no fear! There are many top of the line project management software options for you to choose from to ensure your firm is able to thrive remotely. It includes built-in documentation and record-keeping tools so you can keep an eye on all aspects of project progress. Here are the top project management tools we recommend for AEC firms:

Procore

Since its release in 2003, the US construction project management software company has helped firms drastically increase their project efficiency and accountability by opening up channels of project communication. This remote collaboration tool uses real time data to minimize risks and delays, 75% of project managers who use Procore reduced their project duration by at least 3 days. With their trusted centralized location and user-friendly formatting, Procore can be used by everyone with a hand in the project— and at any time thanks to the Procore mobile app

Your AEC firm should use Procore because:

  • They have an award-winning suite of project management tools so you can match their tools to your needs
  • You will be joining over 1 million global users who use Procare to manage their construction projects
  • All stakeholders have access to shared information, leading to a more trusting and open line of communication
  • You can avoid unwanted project surprises due to the provided heightened project visibility
  • The software is user-friendly, so the tech-newbies on your team won’t get left behind
  • Information logs are instantly updated and give you the whole story so nothing is missed and no projects fall behind

Adeaca

This division of Microsoft was founded in 2007 with one mission: to improve the project owner experience. Adeaca combined comprehensive project governance, real-time insights, and complete collaboration software to create the first Project Business Automation system that provides all-in-one business management cloud solutions for project-focused organizations. Adeaca is all about accuracy and speed. When you turn to their project management software to create the best possible operational plan from the start you are prioritizing completing your projects quickly and without-issue. For more tech-savvy firms who are eagerly embracing their new virtual reality, you can trust Adeaca for all your remote project management needs.

Your AEC firm should use Adeaca because:

  • With timeline integration your schedule will be automatically constrained based on procurement or production delays
  • You’ll be able to efficiently staff your projects based on real-time status updates
  • A financial impact report is immediately generated in response to any schedule changes
  • Enterprise best practices are incorporated into all project schedules
  • You will be able to leverage your project schedule to accurately build your budget

Linkd

Founded in 2016, this young project management collaboration software was built by AEC professionals for AEC professionals. Linkd prides itself on being “the easy, modern, flexible, and visual way to manage AEC projects and organize anything, trusted by companies and people from all over the world.” Used widely by construction, real estate, and manufacturing clients who need to stay connected and keep collaborating from any distance, Linkd is a user-friendly platform designed to optimize remote productivity. Linkd uses AI technology to study your data and generate results with graphs, charts, and status updates for each of your ongoing projects.

Your AEC firm should use Linkd because:

  • The email archiving tool allows you to work on any platforms you are already comfortable with while Linkd gathers your project conversations to archive for future reference
  • You can access Linkd on any device to accommodate for even the most active AEC employee
  • You will complete orders in half the time thanks to Linkd’s unlimited requesting, approval, and change of contract software that connects you with anyone inside or outside of your organization
  • Linkd partners with a Gantt tool to allow you to set any scheduling preferences you want, while keeping employees notified with real-time updates
  • You can access and carry out virtual meetings from your Linkd account on any device

Document Tracking Software

Due to the nature of the industry, the size and complexity of the documents produced by AEC organizations presents challenges around internally searching documents. Due to this high documentation volume, AEC organizations are often challenged with document security and retention. For high-performing remote AEC firms, utilizing trusted document tracking software is a necessity. Document tracking systems allow remote workers to access, search, and edit documents while being able to control who views or edits them. We recommend choosing document tracking software that is secure, enables third-party integrations, and document storage such as:

ImageSite

Cloud-based and user-friendly, this engineering workflow and document management software uses HTML5 technology for simple installation which enables users to begin using the system with very little previous training— making it the ideal document tracking software for newly remote teams and employees. When you choose to utilize ImageSite you are choosing to create and track transmitted documents simply and quickly, reducing the chance of errors while sharing critical documents in real-time.

Comindware

Since its founding in 2010, Comindware has been a trusted and secure document tracking software favored by the AEC industries and beyond.Comindware allows you to collaborate right within documents like proposals and quotes, and streamlines your approval process, reducing your operating expenses.

Digital Twins 

While digital twin technology — virtual models of buildings that collect information about the structure via wireless technology like sensors and drones — is relatively new to AEC industries, it is quickly growing in prominence. The best digital twin software is innovative and user-friendly, for even the most green of remote workers. We recommend:

Bentley

It is no surprise that Bentley, a trusted name in infrastructure software, has led the way in AEC firms embracing digital twin technology. They incorporate engineering data, IoT (internet of things) information, and more to offer “immersive visualization and analytics visibility”, allowing you to better understand your project infrastructure. Bentley currently offers a range of iTwin software designed to introduce your organization to the increasingly vast and virtual world of digital twin software.

No matter the software you choose, it is important to remember that while transitioning your AEC firm to remote work you are in good company. Other architecture, engineering, and construction organizations are just now starting to utilize remote project management tools.

meeting owl for construction with construction tools