Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Hello architect friends this is Jennifer Kretschmer, AIA. I'm talking to you about Launching a Virtual Architecture Practice. Today we're going to ask, “Can any firm really do this?” I'm here to tell you that YES, I really do believe that any firm can become a virtual office.
I know it seems challenging to move all of your workers to remote workers and I have heard from some firms thought that maybe it would just be better to shut down even though they have work than to try to move forward with having everybody as remote workers. Well I'm here to assure you that you can do this. You just need to be organized and work with your staff on making remote work happen.
I think that small firms might be the most agile to implement because there isn't a lot of hierarchy or different groups that are working together. Larger firms do tend to be a little more organized. I know a lot of small practice firms that don't have their office procedures or standards written down, yet. Where large firms will always have that information written down. No matter what size firm systemizing standards and procedures and have them written down.
Office and production standards need to be clearly communicated to your remote workers and the standards need to be somewhere where they can access it while they're at home. For scheduling availability, have systems in place for pre-planned and spontaneous discussions. Our methods are pretty simple, but we do have this method of texting each other to ask, “are you available?” We then decide by text what is the next step. For example, are we going to talk on the phone or are we going to do a video conference.
Think about your current company culture. Company culture is important. It's what makes your firm special or stand out from any other company. When you move to remote systems think about how you're going to maintain the (company) atmosphere that is special to your firm.
Sometimes new programs or technology are not going to work out and won’t be the right fit for your company. You're going to have some failure. Don't give up when it happens. Just learn from it and improve upon it.
So, I want to go back to talking about office standards. Make sure your office's standards are available in a format that is accessible online, and it should be protected from non-employees gaining access to it. This is a sample of my office standards it's available online. It's just a simple Google site, but it is protected. Only people who have permission (from me) to go to this site can see it. We have everything from mission statement and vision statement, communication protocols, what times you're expected to work. Production standards are available online.
Key terms: work from home, WFH, remote working, virtual office, virtual firm, architecture firm, architect office, architect practice, architectural practice.