WFH for a Team of 100+ Architects: See how this firm did it

In the present scenario, the Work From Home culture has pretty much taken over the world. With giant firms all across the globe adopting this methodology to stay ahead of the game in these times, work from home is no more a random buzzword. WFH has enabled these companies to be productive and efficient when the world is closed shut.

Maintaining work efficiency in times like this can be daunting. However, with just the right attitude and awareness, we can sail over this smoothly and get things done even more than before. Here’s a case study of CO Architects, a firm with 100+ architects that aced the game of work from home:

Addressing Priorities

The company has 110 employees in the LA office itself. Handling projects and collaborating in such massive numbers was never an easy task. As the firm’s Managing Principal, Scott Kelsey, FAIA, told the Architecture Lab, “The first thing that we took care of was to ensure that people could actually connect from different home locations, even before they start working.”

The firm has relied on a flexible approach. The employees have always had the provision for working from the comfort of their homes. However, when it comes to implementing WFH regularly, a few changes had to be made. The firm’s IT department came up with a few ideas to get everyone on the same page.

Going by their priorities, the firm gave out a dozen or so laptops to the employees, carved out just the right work schedule and came out with flying colours. The use of technologies like Slack and GoToMeeting has enabled the company to get the workforce together. With a committed team of architects, the firm adjusted with the “new normal” pretty soon.

Handling Communication

For architects collaborating on such a vast scale, communication was one area where they could not go wrong. The firm stressed upon the idea of shared communication in the form of town hall meetings. Bringing together the office once a week with appropriate safety measures optimised the collaboration. Giving importance to discussion and transparency enabled them to be more efficient with their projects.

“There is an increased effort among our members to team up and share the various perspectives. The different communication methods have made people more creative in terms of how they create and share information”, says Scott, when asked about the employees’ response. Work from home enables flexibility and transparency in the workforce when done right.

In a live session on GoToMeeting, the firm introduced the IT model for their Work From Home strategy. One of the issues that came up quite frequently was low bandwidth internet or slow connectivity. The firm managed to put together an allowance system for its employees that gave them access to all the necessities.

Any compromises on communication meant failure to comply with the deadlines, and the management knew that well. Therefore, with weekly town hall meetings, they made sure there was no disparity in communication.

Networking

“What our members do is that they remote into their desktops here, and those desktops connect them to our Revit server. Since there’s no dial-up or third-party line in between, the process becomes direct and also improves the bandwidth efficiency at their (employees) end. This, in turn, helps them download the bigger projects, which is what we generally deal with.” Scott told the Architecture Lab.

The company relies on its intranet, “COnnect” and Slack channels for most of their communication. A continuous collaboration of the architects with the IT factions of the firm enabled a real-time feedback system to troubleshoot problems as and when they appear.

An efficient networking system goes a long way in maintaining the productivity of the firm.

Conclusion:

Two of the most vital points of focus for CO Architects in tackling the Work From Home culture were transparency and flexibility. Coming out clean to employees with honest conversations, addressing real-time feedback and developing an environment of collaboration enabled them to ace the game. The flexible approach to work, with employees being free to choose to work from home or at the office, helped them have a good repertoire and ultimately get things done smoothly.

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