On average, preconstruction teams are working on projects that will start in 2 years. Which means today is business as usual for preconstruction. Except most construction companies have employees (who are not based in the field) working remotely. Which is HIGHLY unusual for estimators.
The working environment of many preconstruction departments has changed drastically with the need to work remotely or from home. The ease of turning around to ask a question to an office worker has morphed into a phone call but the demand for meetings has slowed since people are not being tapped on the shoulder to hop in the conference room “real quick” to discuss project specifics.
The hard parts of preconstruction teams working remotely includes planning everything! Quick calls have replaced asking a question around a corner and the spontaneity that was abundant in the office has to be planned when people aren’t sitting next to each other. Additionally, establishing a relationship with someone you have never done business with before is hard to develop a connection via remote tools. Thankfully, most construction companies have about 80% of their work coming from repeat clients where those relationships are already developed. Add in the risk of day-to-day Internet service is up and running at home when it is needed most (bid day). But, then again, the Internet in the office isn’t always 100%.
But working remotely has also brought with it plenty of benefits.
Productivity is better.
Fewer distractions (aka spontaneity) means more time to focus on estimates, bids, takeoff, responding to questions, and collaborating on the next project. Preconstruction teams are able to do more work in the same amount of time by working remotely. Teams that are using collaborative estimating software are realizing the added benefit of being able to give a project a full team approach without the need to sit right next to each other.
While fewer interruptions improve productivity it also allows for preconstruction professionals to get into deep work and do BETTER work. The lack of starts and stops during the workday has allowed estimators to hone in on the projects they are trying to complete and dive deep into the data. They are making better decisions and providing additional value to the project owner.
Not only is there time saved on commuting to and from the office but the hassle and headache of managing a commute are gone. Some construction companies are planning to move to other locations in the near future and they realize the commute may be better for others and worse for some. Because of the remote working experience, those preconstruction teams are encouraging employees to continue to work from home if it benefits their work and life.
Innovations are popping up.
The use of virtual environments has reshaped how some traditional preconstruction tasks are being done. A DESTINI Estimator user shared the following story:
“We were in the middle of a hard bid project and in the office these events require our team to sit close to each other, have physical contact to look at screens, and pass papers back and forth. Since we are working remotely I set up a virtual room, built a detailed Excel online sheet that we could all access in real-time, and had each person keep their video on an entire day (but they muted themselves if they need to take a call or walk away from their computer). If I needed someone right away I could look on my screen to see who was available and I could ping them to jump in. This virtual room worked better than us being in the office. So much so that this may be our new way of handling hard bids … even when we are back in the office.”
Managing preconstruction efforts remotely requires a slight shift and requires communication. However, people who are constantly on deadline and being pulled in several directions on projects are recognizing the benefits of a remote work environment.