At eSUB, it is our mission to connect the field to the back office seamlessly. But how does that work in times when the back-office closes, project managers need to work remotely, or the job site is temporarily suspended? Keeping true to our mission, eSUB helps ensure your business can still operate even in times when your team works remotely. We’ve put together a few tips on how your construction team can start working remotely in construction – all up until the physical fabrication of the building.
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Make sure you have technology in place.
Technology is the first thing you need when considering working remotely in construction. Whether it’s your laptop, home computer, cell phone, or tablet, you are going to need a device where you can access your company’s documents and applications used regularly. A best practice is to utilize your company’s equipment to ensure the security of company documents and passwords stay within your company during this time you are working remotely.
Next, there’s software. Your company will need to have the applications in place to set you up for success while working remotely. Apps like Slack and Zoom are great for instant messaging and video calling. While applications like eSUB serve as your project management software and log the actions between the field and office, accessible from anywhere.
With the right equipment and applications, the only thing left is to make sure you have a reliable internet connection at home or from wherever you are working remotely. It’s essential to establish this before your team needs to go remote. Check to see if there is a company policy or instructions set in place for employees who may not have internet access at home in the event they need to work remotely.
Stick to a routine
Working remotely is no excuse to let regular hours, meetings, and processes slip through the cracks. First, check with your company to ensure that you are working during regular business hours. Setting a schedule for you and your employees is crucial to enforce that its business as usual – even when you aren’t working alongside your colleagues.
Next, make sure you are upholding routine events. If your company meets at 9 am every Monday morning, figure out a way to host the meeting remotely. Tools like Zoom and GoToMeeting can help you host meetings remotely – with video, chat, and screen-sharing features.
Lastly, do not let processes slip through the cracks. If your foreman regularly fills out a daily report, continue having them fill one out. Project management software makes it easy to uphold standard processes in the field, even when the back office is remote. If your foreman needs to work remotely, continuing daily operations is key to managing your projects effectively. If they are not in the field or unable to construct, make sure the back office is informed, and the delays are documented. This step is important for resuming construction later down the road.
Subcontractors already have enough challenges relaying information to the back office, so you may feel uneasy at the thought of working remotely. The solution to this is staying in constant communication. Set up weekly meetings with your site supervisor and review the daily reports you received for the week. Open discussion about any issues on-site should regularly be discussed – while being adequately documented.
When working remotely in the construction industry, pen and paper should be tossed out the window. The only way to effectively communicate with your team is through technology. Set your team up for success and invest in a project management software designed for subcontractors. Hosting all of your documents in one location can help make the transition from office to remote seamless for employees with undisrupted productivity.
Have discussions with your team about the amount of work that can actually be accomplished from home. While most tasks in the back-office can be accomplished remotely, making sure your manager is aware of any issues will help them set realistic goals for you. Most subcontractor companies may have a few employees work remotely at any given time. However, when an entire team or office goes remote, new challenges can arise. Communicate these new challenges to your management team. They may provide workarounds or a new way of doing things!
If you can’t do it remotely, at least discuss it
In the construction industry, it is not as simple as picking up your laptops, heading home, and jumping on video chat meetings with your managers and teams. Real, physical construction needs to be done and crews must perform this labor. If your company temporarily suspends construction, now may be a good time to review plans, drawings, and designs. If you can’t physically do the work, at least talk about it! Make sure your team is solid and up to speed with future project designs. That way, when construction begins, you’ll come out of the gate running.
This period may be useful for field workers to catch up on their technical skills. Implement a new technology they can learn or have your field workers take some online courses. As construction consumes most of their day, they can now take time and catch up on industry technology, knowledge, and skills.