As COVID-19 spreads, many employers are considering work-from-home policies to cut the risk of their staff getting infected. But for CAD designers who usually work at a physical desktop in the office, working from home isn’t usually possible. However, there are three potential ways of overcoming this issue – we look in more detail at how they would work.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads around the world, the latest World Health Organisation (WHO) advice suggests companies should introduce more teleworking. For employees who don’t need to be physically at the office itself to do most of their work, there is little reason to take the risk of commuting and spending time around large numbers of people.
And many companies are taking the advice – we’ve heard announcements from big tech firms, banks and other service companies who are encouraging staff to work from home in the face of the growing pandemic.
This advice is OK for people doing office jobs that require little more than a phone, a personal computer and an internet connection. However, for staff at design, architecture, engineering and construction businesses who need to use CAD machines, remote working is significantly more challenging. Most CAD software requires the user to log in to a specific machine that supports design work. This usually means that they must be physically present at the office.
However, recent innovations mean that remote working is now increasingly possible for designers.
3 Remote Working Options for CAD Designers
If your organization is considering implementing a remote working policy during the COVID 19 pandemic, it will be essential to ensure that you have the technology to allow people to work from home without significantly disrupting your business processes. There are three major routes available for CAD designers:
1- VPN: with a Virtual Private Network you create a secure connection from the outside of your business premises to systems on the inside. When it comes to CAD, that would allow your designers to connect from their home to their computers at the office and carry on working as normal.
- Pros: completely secure connection to office CAD stations
- Cons: the employee needs to have a powerful computer at home, and you need to acquire a Network License. Setting up the VPN can be slow and is time consuming to set up – it may need IT technician to visit each employee’s home).
2- Laptops: Employees can use a version of your company’s CAD software on a laptop they take to their home office.
- Pros: This is a fairly straightforward approach and means the employee can simply keep using existing files and software
- Cons: To work on large CAD projects it’s definitely preferable for employees to have large screens to work with – which means most laptops are far from ideal. At the same time, taking a laptop loaded with company IP out of the office introduces all sorts of security risks – and that’s not to mention the sheer cost of purchasing, shipping and configuring several high spec laptops.
3- Cloud based CAD Machines: In this approach, your designers don’t connect to their office computer, but instead connect to a secure machine in a server elsewhere which is especially designed to run CAD applications. They can bring their work files into this server and edit and share them just as they would with their desktop computer at work.
- Pros: very secure and extremely quick to set up. Some cloud-based services like designairspace (who wrote this article) provide free trials so companies can decide if it’s for them - and they support all of the world’s most popular CAD applications. The cloud also offers plenty of flexibility, because you pay for services as a monthly subscription - as the pandemic evolves, it may become clear that remote working is only necessary for a few weeks, so the cloud avoids you paying for long term contracts.
- Cons: it is not the same as your desktop computer, so files that designers have previously been working on need to be uploaded to the new environment (though this can be done quickly and safely with File-syncing services such as Dropbox, box.com et al).
Your Remote Working Policy During the Pandemic
Every business is different and so the way that you decide to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak will depend heavily on where you are based, what kind of work your staff do and even the layout of your office. For firms that need their designers to work remotely as the virus spreads, it is good to know that the technology is out there to support your strategy.
If your organization has opted for a policy of remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic, you need reliable technology to allow your designers to work from a distance. To learn more about running CAD and BIM in the cloud and to decide if it is the option for you, sign up for a free trial of designairspace today or contact us to speak about your policy for keeping your designers and their families healthy, safe and productive.