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What Can Your AEC Firm Control During Times Of Uncertainty?
Author: John McMahon
Read time: 8min
Even as architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) companies anticipate project delays they are bracing for the unexpected. There’s the two trillion dollar infrastructure bill. Is it going to happen? Unless you’ve got a crystal ball, a lucky rabbit’s foot, and a divining rod all calibrated to the right frequency, your guess is as good as mine.
You rely on industry lobbyists to push infrastructure spending, Whether or when it happens, is out of your control. The big government money isn’t coming quickly. Coronavirus continues to cause volatility in every sphere. Nearly half of all AEC firms expect to be significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Many anticipate their projects to be postponed. So, all of this begs the question. What can AEC firms control in a time of uncertainty?
1. Today’s Work
I know that it sounds simplistic, but sometimes the simplest truths are the most important. Tomorrow we can’t control, so we have to focus on what we can do (and get done) today.
Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “The future depends on what you do today” — and he’s not wrong.
Likely, your firm has already had to tighten its belt. Projects delayed and on hold are squeezing you. You can’t close the company wallet entirely while you ride out the storm.
Companies that choose their spending carefully will thrive. That’s true in general, but especially true during times like these. When things get back to normal, companies that choose to close their wallets and wait out the storm might find themselves behind. It might even be difficult to compete on a level playing field. Putting some financial resources into departments like marketing, internal sales, and human resources (searching for that perfect addition to the firm) during this time can pay off big.
3. Technology Utilization
In our current work-from-home climate, architectural, engineering, and construction firms across the country – big and small – have had to lean on cloud technologies like VoIP phones and hosted desktops to keep workflow rolling. Cloud computing also helps them stay in touch with employees, vendors, sub-trades, and clients. Right now, technology is something that you can control. If what your firm has got now isn’t working for you, or if you want something better, better is out there! And you’d probably be surprised how quickly and easily it can all be implemented.
Most firms will continue to use the cloud-based technologies they have discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic long after the crisis has ended. So, taking the “technology bull” by the horns now and taking control of your future IT environment, is a good call (understatement).
If you’d like some advice or assistance in how your firm’s technology can be improved upon, the IronOrbit team would be glad to have that conversation with you.
4. Care for Employees, Vendors, and Clients
The AEC firms that are going to come out ahead are the ones that focused on relationships. Relationship building is one of the things you can control. Anyone can pick up the phone or send an email to check in on a colleague or client – and you should. It’s good business. It’s also the kind of cement that can hold relationships together through thick and thin.
Steve Pavlina, author of Personal Development for Smart People, said, “Treat your business relationships like friendships (or potential friendships). Formality puts up walls, and walls don’t foster good business relationships. No one is loyal to a wall… except the one in China.”
By investing care, concern, support, and if needed financial resources into employees, vendors, and clients now, you foster a relationship that will pay dividends in terms of business when things get rolling again.
As hard as it is, compliance with federal and state closures, social distancing, and isolation is something that you have under your control.
As things begin to open again, those restrictions begin to relax. Implementing ongoing safeguards in the workplace is also under your control.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has changed the way the world looks at contagion, and the behavioral effects of the virus upon clients and employees alike will be with us for some time to come. There are sure to be an increased number of new safety measures.
6. Charity and Cheer
Remember the last time all the employees or your firm pitched in to take on a project that benefited someone who needed help. Remember what it felt like? Call it the power of positive intent or just goodwill. It’s amazing what good it does for the morale of a firm.
This week, in our town, a truck will pull into the parking lot of the local Salvation Army Church. Because this is a time when some people have a scarcity of food supply. We will distribute 50,000 pounds of potatoes and French fries to folks who need them.
Because a farmer somewhere knew he could do something.
So, your AEC firm has no potatoes… No surprise there.
But with some thinking and a little imagination, I’m sure you can find some way to band together. Become helpful to someone less fortunate during this time – and there’s always someone less fortunate.
We’re all in this together. And ever-so-slowly, we’re coming out of this crisis together. There’s one thing the leadership of every AEC firm in the nation has under their control. They can choose to be charitable. They can nurture an attitude of cheer and possibility thinking among their employees.
Great Britain may have gotten through WWII with the motto, “Keep Calm and Carry On” but that stoic side of bravery has never been the American way. Instead, every crisis has seen business owners step up to the plate. They do what they can (charity and cheer). A happy warrior to assist in combating the enemy.
Today is no different.
Sure, you may not be able to give to every charity that you would like to support. Your firm may be one of the thousands across the USA that have had to apply for federal loans to keep afloat. It’s a tight spot we’re all in.
But we’re all in it together. It’s an expression you hear a lot nowadays, and it’s true.
These are difficult and uncertain times. You need a solutions provider who can partner with you. IT experts who can pivot and adjust to your needs as they change.
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