Is remote working a new concept in construction? The answer: No.

Project teams may not always in the same location. The PQS could be based in London, the Architect in Newcastle, the Engineer in Cardiff with the Project in Birmingham, this is a UK based example, but the principle applies globally. Historically meetings would be held in person where with travel to a central location, this could mean an entire working day lost in travelling for an hour meeting. Now with the aid of technology these meetings are more likely to be held utilising video conferencing software meaning there is no lost time due to travelling, participants can see each other and share documents as if they were together in the same room.

With projects which have security concerns such as airports, the project team may only be able to visit site once a month as they need to be escorted. Most commercial management, programme and design related work will therefore be carried out offsite.

In both these situations the projects can be delivered successfully despite the project teams operating remotely to the actual project.

Utilising remote working practices enable project teams to be more flexible. If assistance is required support can be engaged quickly as there are no notice periods to contend with or IT set up delays (phones, laptops etc.), The flexible nature of remote working means that the engagement can also be task specific which may be very short in duration or if required longer term commercial support. The size of your project team can increase or decrease as required.

There is a misconception that remote workers as they are not site based do not have a connection with the project team. Whilst the remote worker may not be site based, they are able to communicate with the site teams (and project consultants who will also be remote to the project) by phone, email, video conference (because they don’t have the team physically around them all the time they are much more aware of the importance of keeping in touch) and have access to the same documents as the project team as these are normally stored on a project specific document control portal, if not transfer protocols can quickly and easily be implemented.

Remote workers are also more time efficient in delivering their tasks. They do not have to contend with delays caused by commuting, unrelated office disruptions or site issues. They can concentrate purely on the task at hand.

International projects are also able to benefit from remote workers. There may instances where a project team needs the expertise of a commercial manager who has experience or training from another country who’s experience or training will add value to the project. Ordinarily there would be issues regarding visa’s, physically getting the individual from A to B and all the costs associated with that. Working remotely the commercial manager can connect with the project team from his home country and assist them in resolving whatever issue they may have.

There are of course certain commercial functions that can’t be undertaken remotely such as valuations and site meetings (although arrangements can be made for the remote worker to attend if required).

Remote working may appear to be a relatively new concept, but the construction industry already engages in forms of remote commercial management for example in the preparation of Bills of Quantities or the hiring of an external claim management firm to prepare claim documentation. Urban Project Services have taken this concept and expanded it to include most back office commercial functions which allows site teams more time to be proactive rather than reactive, enabling them to more effectively manage the commercial aspects their project.

Urban Project Services consultants utilise video conferencing, phones, email and instant messaging to ensure that there is always a communication channel open between the project team, relevant parties and the remote consultant. Documents and project related information is shared securely via the project document control system or if non exists a secure means of transfer can be established.

Contact Urban Project Services to see how this flexible approach to commercial management can add value to your project.