Remote work has become extremely popular, in part because it tends to be a net win for everyone involved. Employers get to save on overhead by not having to fork out rent for huge offices, and employees get to enjoy greater flexibility. On top of that, the vast majority of an estimator’s work can be done completely from home, thanks to the incredible technological advances we have at our fingertips.
But in spite of its popularity, remote work is still pretty controversial, especially within the preconstruction world. Preconstruction is one of the few departments within the construction industry that has the ability to do hybrid or even fully remote schedules, so working from home has been a much more common trend than in other departments.
We still believe that preconstruction teams should encourage their estimators to work from home. Research from Niche SSP, a preconstruction staffing organization, discovered that a whopping 78% of estimators would rather have a better work-life balance than a promotion. Their poll also found that the promise of a better work-life balance is one of the most significant elements in an estimator’s choice to leave one company for another. It’s clear that the benefits of working from home far outweigh the drawbacks. But more importantly, there are unique ways that embracing remote work can help the preconstruction industry grow as a whole.
- Attract more talent
- Increase employee retention
- Focus on what actually matters
Attract More Talent
According to a study performed by cloud-computing organization Citrix, 88% of employees state that flexible hours and working location is one their highest priorities when considering a new job. While potential employees understand that not every role can accommodate full-time remote work, most of them are now expecting to at least have one remote day per week or flexible start times at bare minimum.
This is a big ask for any preconstruction team, and not just because of logistics. For centuries, being in the office has been what makes work, “work.” But the new generation of estimators aren’t interested in doing things just because that’s how they’ve always been done. They want to see that you value time and results, not appearances. If you’ve been struggling to bring in new estimators on your team, consider the current work-from-home policies you have in place and see if they could use some shaking up.
Increase Employee Retention
On the flip side, encouraging your estimators to work from home—even if it’s only one or two days a week—can bring a huge boost in overall morale, and with it, productivity. Studies found that employees who work remotely are 24% happier and more productive than those who work in an office. On top of that, remote employees are much more likely to work longer for a company than employees in an office setting.
The key here, of course, is intention and well-defined policies. If you say your estimators can work from home one day a week, but micromanage on the days they’re out or give preference to those who choose not to take any work-from-home days, you’re probably not going to see the results you want. On the other hand, if you have clear boundaries around what remote work will look like for your team and actively encourage people to take advantage of them, be prepared to see way more engaged and motivated estimators.
Focus on What Actually Matters
Most importantly, when you encourage your estimators to work from home, you help everyone focus on the work that truly matters. When you’re in the office, it’s easy to squeeze in impromptu meetings that really should have been emails, and get distracted by questions or conversations that aren’t all that productive. That isn’t to say that estimators should be robots, by any means, but the truth is that working in the office often makes it easier to both create and get caught up in busy work.
When estimators work remotely, the distractions are usually fewer, people can start earlier thanks to not having a commute, and there’s greater opportunity to work more quickly: a meeting becomes the aforementioned email, a question is asked and answered within seconds via a Teams message. Remote work also makes it easier to see processes that need to be trimmed down or perhaps even eliminated altogether.
How Can You Encourage Your Estimators to Work From Home Today?
Maybe you don’t have any kind of remote work policy for your team at the moment. Maybe you do, but no one is sure how to use it and so nobody’s using it. So whether your first step is campaigning for any remote work policy or just reminding people to take advantage of flexible schedules, let us know in the comments what you’re doing today to help your estimators work from home.