Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working was more or less unheard of in the construction industry. A study by Leesman found that out of 20,000 UK construction workers, half had no home working experience before the pandemic.
Now more than 1 in 5 workers have a hybrid work setup in the UK, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Remote working was around 50% of the workforce during the height of the pandemic and has since levelled out to around 28% as businesses and employees recognised the benefits of remote working and have continued this practice post-pandemic.
In terms of the construction industry, there are many job roles, such as surveyors, estimators, team leaders, and communicators, that can easily move their working activities to a remote setting.
Advantages of Remote Working
Moving your back office functions to a remote working environment can result in several benefits for your construction business. Most notably:
Opting to use remote solutions such as cloud data storage means that equipment such as servers do not have to be located on business premises, taking up vital floor space. Apart from the ground rent associated with housing the servers it can be quite costly for the maintenance and running of servers and investing in additional infrastructure when needed.
Using cloud solutions, all of these costs can be removed and investment in expensive equipment is no longer needed with Workstation as a Service and virtual platforms replacing hardware upgrades.
Moving to a fully remote system for back office functions in construction means that the entire office can be replaced with a remote work environment with employees working from home. This means that all costs associated with the office space can be removed entirely with no rent or bills to pay such as heating and electricity.
One clear advantage of shifting to a remote working environment is the inherent scalability that comes with this business model.
Operations can easily be ramped up or down as needed. For example, if a project requires 20 temporary office workers you would normally need desk space and a machine to work on, for all of those staff members.
Through remote work solutions such as virtual desktops and cloud computing with hardware on demand, it is much easier to ramp up operations and scale them back when the systems are no longer needed.
So in this example, it would be as simple as assigning another 20 virtual desktops to your staff and they can operate from home with the same interface and functionality as their office-based counterparts. Instead of having to physically move all the stuff in you just change one number on a central control panel.
More Flexible and Dynamic
Working from home offers much more flexibility and apart from being more convenient and attractive for prospective employees to have this option, it also opens up a more dynamic approach for the construction firm and the way it conducts business.
For example, if a surveyor or contractor requires access to a particular system or realises at 6 pm they don’t have a necessary file for the job, they would normally be waiting around til the office opened again at 9 am the following day to have their query answered by management or office staff.
Remote working in construction facilitates collaboration with greater connectivity across the board. The boss can easily handle the request when it comes in at 6 pm as they have all the office functions at their fingertips. The contractor can send their query and set up their working day when they are riding on the train commuting to work or sitting at home watching TV.
When you introduce remote working to a construction company it removes the traditional 9–5 working day and makes the whole process more streamlined.
With work frequently taking place in on-site locations it makes sense to have remote connectivity to facilitate effective operation in these environments. With a fully remote setup with back office functions also handled through cloud solutions, all sides of the business are interlinked and integrate more harmoniously with on-site working.
In the construction industry, there are a number of documents that need to be signed and approved by various parties in order for the work to commence. However, these do not need to be physical paper-based documents and shifting towards a paperless business model can help streamline processes and improve productivity.
Through cloud solutions and the right technology, you can have paperless billing, payroll, invoicing and electronic signing of important documents and contracts.
Apart from being more streamlined and efficient, it is also more secure without having valuable paperwork held in a physical location that can be broken into and the contents stolen.
Which Remote Work Solutions are Most Suitable for the Construction Industry?
Cloud Data Storage
There are numerous advantages to using cloud storage in the construction industry. Apart from being secure with encryption and other cybersecurity measures in place, cloud data is easily accessible from remote locations using mobile devices or any other platform to access the interface.
Another advantage of cloud storage is that it is unlimited so you don’t have the same problems of running out of disk space or needing to buy new servers and hardware when they start to fill up with all the documents and data that is needed.
Workstation as a Service
When people think of remote solutions, off-site data storage springs to mind but not necessarily the remote access to hardware such as powerful CPU and GPU platforms.
This is one key component of cloud computing that is often overlooked—the ability to harness the power of the most sophisticated graphics processors and high-powered CPUs from any device without needing the necessary hardware that would normally be required to run it.
For example, an employee can pull up some complicated schematics and graphics-hungry documents or plans using any of their own home devices by remotely connecting to a virtual workstation that does all the processing and the graphics remotely, feeding the information back to the employee’s laptop or even their mobile phone.
This opens up a world of possibilities because any worker can use high-end applications without needing to invest in expensive hardware for everyone who needs to run the program.
Voice over Internet Protocol Telephony provides a secure and reliable alternative to using traditional PBX telephone services. VoIP gives all the benefits of being connected on a landline but accessible from any location and with any device. Just connect your mobile to the system and you’ve got clear communications on a call that is free to make.
Also, where there may be limited mobile phone signal on certain sites and working environments, as long as you have a wireless hub or connection to the internet you can easily get in touch via phone call or audio/visual conferencing using VoIP.
At Lyon, we provide a range of solutions for construction companies to shift towards an efficient remote working model. By seamlessly integrating cloud solutions and managed IT services into your existing processes, we help construction companies enhance their productivity and flexibility, ensuring they can stay competitive in the current marketplace.
For more information on which cloud solutions would be most suitable for your construction business, please contact our advisors today—we can take you through the range of options and explain the process of implementing these systems.