In our continuous effort to support the industry in these uncertain times, we’ve formed the ACEC-BC COVID-19 Advisory Team – a group consisting of members and clients tasked with addressing important questions facing the industry as we navigate under the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The ACEC-BC COVID-19 Team includes senior leadership from the consulting industry and our engineering counterparts from large infrastructure owners, including public sector agencies responsible for our transportation networks and water and wastewater systems.
The group is united in their priorities:
- Protect the health, welfare, and safety of the public
- Provide safe and supportive working environments for our team members
- Ensure the consulting engineering industry remains resilient
One March 19, 2020, the team convened for the first meeting and shared experiences, challenges, and strategies in transitioning to a remote workforce and virtual client-consultant team environment. Additionally, areas of common interest were identified for the team to begin addressing such as work practices to maintain project momentum and workforce productivity.
Some key highlights include:
- Remote Workforce: as of Thursday March 19, 2020, majority of engineering and consulting firms had already moved to a work-from-home for majority or all of their workforce. Clients had limited access to buildings and were transitioning their workforce to work from home.
- Tools and Resources: most workforces have shifted to a communication and collaboration platform such as Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business, or Zoom. Some of the challenges being faced are VPN capacity; shifting schedules can help accommodate network traffic and personal obligations including managing childcare and partner working hours.
- Planning Horizon (remote workforce): consultants and clients are using a planning horizon of no less than 1-month, with an average timeframe of 3-4-months.
- Electronic Submissions, submission deadlines: consultants are concerned that some clients continue to require hard copy proposal submissions. Clients will ensure options to submit electronically are considered a priority change to work processes. Clients may be able to accommodate extensions to submission deadlines on a case-by-case basis; consultants should work with clients to communicate risk.
- Force Majeure, project timelines: clients and consultants want to encourage judicious use of contract terms. Frequent conversations focussed on risk mitigation are encouraged. Future meetings are likely to focus on contract language and the risks posed to all parties.
The next meeting on the advisory group is Thursday, March 26 and upcoming updates will be shared on acec-bc.ca.