Discussion: View Thread

  • 1.  Managing or Supervising Remotely

    Posted 11-05-2019 12:53 PM
    As it becomes more and more common to work remotely, so has the need to manage or supervise remotely.  There are some clear disadvantages to this setup, but also some hidden advantages, as well.  The informal dynamics of being in the same office can lead to lively white board discussions, but quickly turn into a micromanagement situation.  While, supervising remotely can warrant more formal communications through phone calls and follow up emails, but leave workers wandering on their own. 

    Can workers be supervised remotely in a way that is just as effective as in person?  What tools, technology, and strategies do you use to keep workers on track from a distance?  What challenges specific to the engineering profession (which is site specific and reliant on mentorship) grapple with when teams are scattered geographically?

    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI

  • 2.  RE: Managing or Supervising Remotely

    Posted 11-06-2019 09:53 AM
    Edited by Tirza Austin 11-06-2019 09:52 AM

    This is such a great topic. Our company is currently deciding on whether it makes sense to keep a physical office or not. We are fairly spread out across the front range in Colorado and up to now, we have had two offices. The cost of maintaining two offices does not make sense for us so we are looking at either consolidating the offices, going completely remote, or a mix of both with a single office but most of the work done at home. 

    I would say, having an office creates a space for you to come to work rather than always being at work (in the case of a home office). I like going to a physical office, it gets me out of the house and I know that when I am here I am working. On the other hand, I would rather work from home during a winter storm or if my baby is sick. On top of that, I like to travel so having the ability to work remotely is very appealing to me.  

    Additionally, I would be able to move basically anywhere in the US and still work for the same company rather than try to find another job elsewhere. In fact, my wife and I plan to move back to South Dakota closer to her family and being able to work remotely will make that transition a lot easier. 

    In terms of technology, as you may imagine we have a ton of options. At our office, we use Google Drive to store all of our files so they are in the cloud, backed-up, and available virtually anywhere in the world. I have experimented a little with chrome's remote desktop when I need help from the more experienced engineers and they are not around, that way they are able to draw structural details on AutoCAD or show me something right on my screen without actually being there. 

    I think there are a lot of benefits to working remotely, but as always it depends on the person. Many people like to work at an office and are more efficient that way, others like to work out of their homes and can really focus on work that way. 

    I am really interested to read what other people say.

    Luis Duque EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO

  • 3.  RE: Managing or Supervising Remotely

    Posted 11-21-2019 12:57 PM
    There are plenty of team management apps that help with remote project management. I was inundated with online ads for Monday.com which could be helpful in this regard. I'm sure there are many others.


    The biggest challenge, especially for IT people will be making sure that everyone has a properly secured PC as well as a secure connection. You definitely don't want to allow any workers to use their own PC's. Software management will also be critical to ensure everyone has legitimate licenses. This is more important for workers working at home but also in the field, there could be a temptation to use a computer the worker is familiar with.

    Yance Marti P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer IV
    City of Milwaukee
    Milwaukee WI