How to Move Your Construction Company's Back Office to Remote Work

For many construction companies, remote work seemed like an impossibility as recently as a year ago. While technology like 3D mapping software and drones have provided useful advances, most work was still accomplished in the field. As the effects of COVID-19 spread across the world, the industry is quickly adapting, and you need to have a plan ready to move your construction company’s back office to remote work.
Ben Conry
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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to require changes from every sector, remote work solutions are a necessity. If you can move your construction company’s back office to remote work, you can keep your workers safer and reduce turbulence in the season ahead. 

Still, construction isn't an industry that adapts to remote work easily. For office workers that need to be on top of changing circumstances, vital compliance paperwork, and an ever-changing work atmosphere, working remotely can provide extra challenges to overcome. Luckily, there are solutions that will help keep office workers safe. They will also help your company comply with social distancing regulations.

While the pandemic may be the trigger to remote office work in the construction industry, it's something that can improve your company's future. Remote work solutions can often increase productivity and improve work-life balance.

6 Steps to Move Your Construction Company's Back Office to Remote Work

Try these solutions to streamline your remote office into a virtual workspace that will benefit your construction business now and in the future. 

1. Go Paperless

With the right technology, you can provide paperless billing, paperwork, and even payroll programs. This will cut down on unnecessary hand-to-hand contact that can easily spread dangerous germs. Important paperwork, liens, contracts, and signatures must be taken care of for every construction project, but these documents don't have to be physical copies. A paperless option will allow you to:

  • Convert billing reminders to text, email, or phone calls.
  • Virtually receive, review, and store invoices, lien waivers, and other project documentation.
  • Electronically approve or decline invoices and pay apps, and electronically sign important documents.
  • Remotely generate cashflow reports and update accounts.

The Ongoing Benefits of a Paperless Future

Transitioning to paperless billing, payroll, and documentation provides obvious social distancing benefits during a pandemic. There's also a good chance this will become the new normal for your company. 

After the transition, paperless documentation provides a more efficient way to take care of all communications. Documents can be created seamlessly and progress through every involved party without navigating schedule conflicts. Paperless billing also automatically reduces the risk of errors. Overall, going paperless can reduce costs, avoid lost documents, and improve efficiency. 

2. Find New Methods of Communication

Staying connected with a job site from the office is difficult enough. Finding ways to stay connected from home might require a new platform. Relaying information to the back office can be difficult for subcontractors out in the field in a normal situation. So find a technology-based option for constant communication that can provide dual solutions for communication and documentation issues. 

Better Communication Leads to a More Efficient Future

Investing in technology-based communication options provides a seamless transition when you move your construction company’s back office to remote work. It also creates options for enhancing company communication techniques over time. Communication solutions designed with the construction industry in mind provide new options for streamlined documentation. Convenient, in-the-moment communications reduce errors and also lead to more productive meetings. 

3. Carve Out a Professional Workspace

Working from home often conjures images of bleary-eyed employees lounging on the couch in pajamas. While working from home opens up opportunities for a better work/life balance, it's important to draw a line between professional and personal time. Help your employees move your construction company back office to remote work successfully by looking into best practices for personal workspaces. 

For example, it’s important to set up a productive space. While you don't necessarily need a professional office, you will likely require a space where you can easily access everything you need and work without distractions. Whether you have a makeshift desk in a quiet corner of the dining room or a dedicated office, it sets the right tone. Creating a space designed just for work allows you to set boundaries and build an efficient workday.

Bringing Much-Needed Balance to the Future

Traditionally, the construction industry has been a somewhat reluctant follower in the effort to include remote work opportunities. Remotely observing job sites and taking care of essential paperwork simply seemed like too big of a risk. But with the addition of targeted technology, many companies are seeing potential opportunities to introduce remote work. Successful use of a remote office during the pandemic could transform into an opportunity for routine remote work in the future.

4. Create a Dependable Routine

When employees work outdoors in potentially dangerous situations, checking in whenever you want isn't a viable option. Construction subcontractors are working in a moment-to-moment environment, and the back-office workers need to stay current, as well. Standardized procedures are a vital part of maintaining compliance and retaining documentation. Project management software can make it easy for on-site employees to create daily reports and for management or office staff to attend virtual meetings.

Updated Routines Streamline Future Processes

Incorporating technology into your routine is essential for social distancing recommendations, but it can also create a more controlled work atmosphere in the future. Paperless processes and remote communication integrated into a dependable routine can increase production for both on-site workers and managerial/office staff. The details that you incorporate into your current routine will likely transition seamlessly in a post-COVID environment. 

5. Invest in the Technology You Need to Move Your Construction Company’s Back Office to Remote Work

With today's technology, working remotely is possible with a variety of tools. However, working in a manner that's possible is a long distance from working in a way that's efficient. Technology provides easy ways to communicate, store documents, and hold virtual meetings. Still, most methods aren't designed for the intricacies of the construction industry. Investing in industry-specific technology that provides the tools you need will increase the convenience of remote work. 

While many activities can be accomplished across various devices, your employees should be using a device that allows you to efficiently complete tasks. Each device must also be compatible with the company's security system. Software works best when it's designed to carry the heavy paperwork load related to construction. The ability to receive, review, sign, and store documents is essential. 

Additionally, the ability to search and access secure documents within seconds will streamline remote processes. Software designed for the construction industry provides the entire team with the tools needed for increased communication, secure document transfers, data collection for accurate planning, and efficient billing processes.

Investing in Technology Is a Smart Tactic to Prepare for the Future

Spending hesitation is common during times of economic slowdown. But if you want to move your construction company’s back office to remote work, now’s the time. Internal improvements that can help the company to increase revenue both now and in the future are worthy investments.

Taking advantage of a business slowdown can also give every employee additional time to learn a new system's quirks. Technology that increases productivity, reduces mistakes, and streamlines your business processes will increase your company's profits — no matter what the future brings.

6. Be Flexible
construction office employees holding a virtual meeting while working remotely

There are parts of construction that simply can't be accomplished remotely. Workers will be required to be at the job site to accomplish physical tasks, and there are times you might need a face-to-face meeting. Adequate communication about what's working and what isn't will help the entire team find flexible solutions to any problem. As you navigate the new changes you're making from home, hold routine meetings that allow workers to share opinions. Creating long-term satisfaction is key to any successful project.

Flexible Planning Leads to Solutions That Last in the Future

Navigating a new routine is tough, but it should be a work-in-progress until it actually works. Discussing the issues that arise and the potential pitfalls of new processes provides an opportunity for your team to create solutions. As you iron out the kinks, productivity and efficiency will likely improve across the company. These improvements will naturally integrate into the company's future for smoother completion of routine tasks.

Creating a Remote Office in the Construction Industry Isn’t Just a Short-Term Necessity

For many construction companies, remote work seemed like an impossibility as recently as a year ago. While technology like 3D mapping software and drones have provided useful advances, most work was still accomplished in the field. As the effects of COVID-19 spread across the world, the industry is quickly adapting, and you need to have a plan ready to move your construction company’s back office to remote work. With targeted software, remote management and office tasks in the construction industry are finally becoming a reality. Perhaps even more exciting is the realization that these tools are increasing productivity, minimizing errors, and streamlining processes. These improvements have the potential to change the use of remote work in the construction industry permanently.

While some employees adapt to technology quickly, it may be difficult for experienced project managers to let go of the hands-on processes of the past. Transitioning to digital tools that provide various communication methods can ease the transition and ensure important processes don't get eliminated. The use of an industry-specific platform will allow project managers to:

  • Virtually track schedules
  • Communicate routinely with the back office
  • Remotely delegate tasks
  • Check work progress in real-time

Adding these features to a routine workday cuts unnecessary travel time and expenses and helps improve job site productivity. 

COVID-19 and the related social distancing regulations are bringing about a new standard of work in the construction industry. Preparing your company to keep up with inevitable future changes is essential. Navigating the complex changes that are occurring across the world is an important part of keeping your business afloat, but it can also be a way to thrive in the future. Whether you move your construction company’s back office to remote work completely or allow for some remote work positions, stay ahead of the curve.

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