Working from Home: Technology that Enables Collaboration

As designers, we're fortunate to spend our days problem solving and adapting to change. When faced with a challenge like this, our innovative thinking helps us create solutions, fast.

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A lot has changed in the past few weeks.  

The Covid-19 outbreak has forced a third of the world’s population into lockdown, and millions of people have found themselves working from home. For many, these are unchartered waters, and they bring a host of new challenges.  

As designers, we’re fortunate to spend our days problem solving and adapting to change. When faced with a challenge like this, our innovative thinking helps us create solutions, fast.  How has a practice with hundreds of team members made the move from a highly collaborative studio environment to one where every individual works from home? For a start, we’ve embraced technology and we continue to experiment with new ways of working.

How has a practice with hundreds of team members made the move from a highly collaborative studio environment to one where every individual works from home?

It’s important to set up your physical space

Finding a good place to work from at home isn’t always easy. Many of us are perched at a kitchen bench or repurposing the ironing board as a stand-up desk. Wherever you might be in your home, set up your technology like you have it in the office – if possible, use a second screen, a mouse, and a keyboard. This helps to maintain both your working habits and your posture.

Online collaboration is more than just video calling

The design process is all about collaboration and doing this remotely can be challenging. Lean into your technology – tools like video conferencing, virtual whiteboards, and online chat functions help to maintain effective collaboration. On that note, it’s a good idea to choose suppliers and platforms with full cloud capability (i.e. BIM360, Office365, VPN services, etc.) so everyone can access vital project data and collaborate remotely.

Over-Communicate!

Already missing your work mates? Working from home can be isolating. Use technology to over-communicate with your team. Have a video chat in the morning, share a funny GIF at lunch, and debrief over a phone call at the end of the day. Keep up the contact and keep up the morale.

Be brave and experiment

We tend to underutilise our digital tools, so be brave and really lean into your software – you’re likely to find features and functions that you never knew were available. Don’t be afraid to try new apps or tools. Find new ways of working that suit your team and your clients – you never know, you might just stumble across something that works so well, you take it with you back to the office.  

Why not learn something new?

Without a lengthy commute, many designers and consultants are using the extra hour in their day to upskill. Check out online courses at Lynda.com. Read more about building codes online. Watch an inspiring architect like Alejandro Aravena on a Ted Talk. Come out of this lockdown with more knowledge than you came in with.

There are plenty of challenges in a work from home environment, so remember to focus on what’s within your control; use your technology and applications to their full potential, and perhaps see this period of isolation as an opportunity to find new tools, good habits, and inventive ways of working for the future.

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