This is the second post in a series exploring ‘work from home’ trends, tools and technologies, and strategies to help enterprise AEC companies empower a remote workforce. See this companion post on why enterprise remote work trends will outlive the pandemic and
how to prepare
Over six months into a global pandemic and companies now realize that ‘work from home’ ways are here to stay. By April 2020, virtually the entire AEC industry experienced the sudden shift of sending employees home and had to quickly figure out how to support a newly remote workforce. However, the quickly implemented solutions that helped organizations get by at the onset of COVID-19 are not good enough for longer-term needs. Today, the built world faces a new reality - their dispersed, remote teams need better ‘work from home’ technology and tools to continue to thrive. But, where there is challenge, there is opportunity. This pandemic is thrusting architecture, engineering, and construction teams into the future in an industry that stands the most to gain from immersive technology.
Cover your bases: basic enterprise ‘work from home’ technology
With the exception of workers on the jobsite, most AEC teams shifted to working from home, resulting in a sudden and staggering reliance on technology. And, most of it was newly implemented tech, at that. For an industry historically underserved by technology, AEC companies now have the opportunity to take giant leaps forward into technology-enabled teams and processes. This means enabling the remote workforce with more than company-issued PCs, CAD and BIM software licenses, and video conferencing.
But, first, let’s cover the basics. All remote AEC teams need these barebones tools to work from home effectively:
- Video/web conferencing
- Shared file storage/access
- Messaging app to collaborate and socialize
- Secure, remote access to core business systems
For the win: must-have ‘work from home’ tech for remote AEC teams
Zoom, Box, and Slack are necessary tools, but not enough to help architecture, engineering, and construction teams win when they have to remotely manage client presentations, design reviews, coordination meetings, and ongoing construction projects, involving massive model or BIM files - now, at home.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) software for AEC
Building Information Modeling (BIM) software helps AEC companies digitize their building model data, which makes it much more accessible to teams dispersed across the country (or world). Now, with AutoDesk’s BIM 360 software, these time-saving BIM tools are available in the cloud. The trend towards cloud-based collaboration and coordination tools not only keeps this industry running, but encourages innovation in ways that wasn’t possible before.
Next level AEC tech: From BIM to VR collaboration & coordination
Gone are the days when architects, designers, engineers, and owners had to gather in a conference room - perhaps flying across the country to do so - for a design review meeting at a critical point in a construction project. By getting designs, models, and data off of paper and into digital files, BIM software has set the stage for huge advances in the industry. Making files more accessible is a critical step - arming AEC teams with enterprise VR software to turn those BIM files into immersive experiences in VR is the game-changer. Now, teams can upload and interact with building designs and models in VR. This is a huge step up from trying to manage, comprehend, or even present unwieldy 3D files on a 2D screen.
AEC is a highly-collaborative industry powered by highly specialized skills. Modern technology makes it possible to get people together when they can’t be in-person. What’s more, gathering in virtual reality - walking around in building designs with VR tools in hand to measure, mark issues, and more - is proving to be even more effective in many ways, than in reality. Immersive technology for the enterprise drives productivity, enabling team collaboration despite physical distance, making it a must-have for the built industry.
Immersive technology is the future for AEC
Enterprise-grade VR headsets are getting better and the ecosystem of VR collaboration and coordination solutions is growing (take the Oculus for Business ISV directory, for example). Today, companies can even leverage VR coordination and collaboration tools without a headset. Prospect for Desktop is IrisVR’s response to the industry’s rapid need for VR software, making it easier to implement and more accessible than ever. Prospect for Desktop delivers all the features of IrisVR’s enterprise VR solution, Prospect, while acting as the perfect stepping stone to the fully immersive, headset-enabled VR experience. AEC teams that add VR software and hardware to their technology arsenal see even more benefits, driving better team collaboration and spatial understanding through immersive VR experiences.
As more enterprise companies unveil indefinite ‘work from home’ plans, it’s clear that a remote workforce is here to stay. The AEC industry is turning to cloud-based, immersive technology to work and innovate, during the pandemic and beyond. BIM and VR solutions are now critical components of long-term success. Enterprise-ready VR software and better, more affordable VR headsets present an opportunity to drive productivity in a critical moment in history - the time has never been better to invest in VR for AEC.