Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the way that both construction and construction operations are done. With non-essential construction being shut down in most areas and the need to quarantine away from each other, the virus has shed a light on the need for remote planning and remote meetings in the construction industry.
Though the impact has almost exclusively been a negative one, there are some positives that can be pulled from such a trying time for the industry. For instance, while many construction sites have been shut down, 90% of general contractors across North America have been able to continue to work remotely to understand and prepare for the impact COVID-19 is having on their current and future projects. The ability to be resilient, keep working, and pushing through hard times has been one of the qualities that has allowed the construction industry to grow year after year.
The key to collaborative remote meetings is maintaining a high level of visibility and communication amongst your team. There are many video conferencing tools that you can leverage for yourworkforce planning meetings and ensure there are no excuses for missing a meeting, however many of these tools come with different feature sets that you may want to evaluate before committing all of your future meetings. Some common video conferencing features you may want to consider for hosting yourworkforce planning meetings include:
Remotely accessing another team members desktop
Chat via text during meetings
There are also video conferencing tools that will allow you to broadcast conferences to large groups of passive viewers. This might come in handy should your company choose to host webinars or digital conferences for current or potential clients.
Video conferencing tools for construction workforce planning
From here on out we’re going to explore some of the different options available for runningworkforce planning meetings remotely. We’ll take a look at some of the most popular video conferencing tools, and some of the pros and cons for each.
Zoom is one of the most popular video conferencing tools available. It has strong webinar capabilities and features HD video and audio. At a basic level zoom is free to use but that does come with certain limitations, for instance time sensitive meetings and limits on participants. Upgrading to the Pro version is relatively inexpensive at 20$/month/host, and allows for up to 100 participants and meetings up to 24 hours long, which may seem excessive for meetings, but compared to the 40 minute and 10 participant limit at the basic level it’s well worth the upgrade.
HD video and audio
Active speaker displayed
Chrome and Outlook extensions
There have been reported security issues with zoom meetings being interrupted and even computers being accessed through Zoom by outside users
HD audio and video is dependent on bandwidth. Users with poor connectivity may experience blurry video, audio that cuts in and out, and may even be dropped from the meeting
Payment plan is based on meeting hosts. If you plan on having multiple people hosting meetings the cost can start to add up
Skype is the “old faithful” in the video conferencing world. Similar to Zoom it also supports HD audio and video, but unlike Zoom it can support more participants at its free level and supports up to 4 hours for an individual meeting. There are a few different versions of Skype worth looking into including Skype Meetings, Skype for Web, and Skype for Businesses, but the pros and cons are fairly consistent for all of them with different limitations based on pricing ie. maximum file sizes for sharing, number of participants etc.
HD audio and video
Call phones and send text messages directly from meetings
Is known to freeze up
Eats up a lot of bandwidth
Calling and texting to phones requires a subscription to Skype premium
Similar to Zoom, Skype’s popularity has lead to issues with security
Google Hangout (hangouts.google.com)
If your company is already using google, you may want to keep things simple and go with their video conferencing tool Google Hangouts. It might be a great time to start given that due to the coronavirus pandemic Google is offering a lot of the benefits of their business version “Google Hangouts Meet” on their free version of Google Hangouts until Sept 30, which gives you some time to decide if upgrading is worth it for your company.
Free to use, and upgraded version comes with G-suite if already subscribed
HD audio and video
Google integrations for easy scheduling and invites
Small one-time fee to upgrade
Requires participants have an active Google account
Screen is often blurry from participants with low connectivity
No desktop application
GoToMeeting is another incredibly popular video conferencing tool. While it doesn’t offer the free version that some of the other tools here do ($12/month), GoToMeeting also won’t run into as many of the meeting limitations that you may find with some of the free versions of video conferencing tools mentioned earlier.
HD audio and video
Plenty of integrations including Office365, and Google
Meeting recording *meetings are also transcribed and allow you to search keywords to easily locate discussion points
Similar to other video conferencing tools, GoToMeeting requires a strong internet connection and can quickly eat up data for mobile users
No free-version, though the Pro version is only 12$/month with a free trial available
Slack is mainly used as an instant messaging system within companies but also offers video conferencing. The benefits of using a tool like Slack as opposed to some of the other video conferencing options mentioned is that it is an incredibly versatile communication tool. Users can create channels for different teams to discuss specific topics or projects, and easily upload and search out documents or files. The app is free to use with unlimited users and a search history of up to 10,000 messages, or you can upgrade to the paid app ($7/month/user) to increase search history and have unlimited storage and integrations available.
Full communication tool
Ability to make calls directly through the application
Limited video conferencing controls
Calls often get dropped
Easy communication with coworkers can become a distraction
Let’s be honest, a lot of these tools offer the same features and also carry similar disadvantages as each other. The key is finding the tool that best suits your entire team. Ease of use and simple implementation can make the difference between team members making it into your remote meetings. Video conferencing should encourage people to join your meetings remotely, not make it a hassle to participate.
Bridgit Bench is the leading construction workforce management solution for the same reason. With an emphasis on ease of use and approachability operations managers are able to get more of their core team involved in the workforce planning process. Bridgit Bench is also highly visual and allows for meeting hosts to easily display the current workforce plan to better communicate allocation strategy for projects on the horizon.