Construction’s Newest Critical Tool — Zoom
Construction can be described as a group of trained people gathering on a job site to collaboratively build something. This endeavor brings many tools into play. There are pneumatic hammers, sanders, skip loaders, wheelbarrows, graders, hard hats — and Zoom Meetings — some of it taking place right in the middle of the dust and bustle of the work site.
The current COVID-19 public health crisis throws a spotlight on Zoom’s innovation—and the company’s mission of connecting scattered, remotely located teams. As for the job site video conferencing itself — if you’re imagining a widescreen smart TV right there next to the concrete mixer, you’re getting warm. Now think “mobility.” Nichole Carter is Implementation & Adoption Manager at Salt Lake City’s Big-D Construction, a Zoom adopter in the construction space.
“Being able to jump back and forth from my laptop to my tablet or my smartphone was really what kicked us over to Zoom,” Carter said. “I’ve got an owner in Seattle, my architect is in Denver, and our people are on the Jobsite in Salt Lake City. The fact that we’re all remote and separated but still connected, still working as a cohesive, collaborative team — that in its own right is the benefit of the Zoom integration. It’s been incredibly helpful to be able to maintain a healthy, positive relationship with these stakeholders who have so much on the line.”
Meetings that connect the field, office in real time
Digital construction management platform Procore Technologies had recently — and avidly — began working on a way to marry Zoom’s innovative one-click video communications to Procore’s cloud-based tool suite for the industry. Procore’s global reputation is based on uniting disparate construction project workers in a single, collaborative virtual space. This mission gets a huge boost from the new Zoom Procore integration. Zoom’s one-click, truly on-the-fly video meetings make it simple and quick to schedule impromptu gatherings without schedule-threatening delays. Zoom’s mobile video app powerfully boosts productivity by connecting the job site and field in ways that could permanently reframe the construction project meeting.
“Zoom really does help bind us,” Carter says. “We can, as a meeting agenda item, do a site walk with the stakeholders even if they aren’t there. The ability to have that Zoom meeting in the field provides the option for the owner and architect to jump directly through that link and walk through the site with us during the Zoom call.”
She added: “I would not be surprised if, going forward, we saw a drastic reduction of travel by owners, architects, and developers — mitigating some of the travel expenses associated with a project. The ability to have stakeholders’ boots on the ground digitally has actually been a blessing in disguise during this crisis for both parties.” Project underwriters may even view risk aversion and travel savings as complementary birds of a feather.
“Some of the clients have gone back to their developers, just the money side, and said, ‘I know that being onsite every other week is a contract requirement, but Big-D Construction provided this alternative for us. Is that okay?’ And the banks actually said, ‘Yeah, let’s minimize the risk.’ It really does reaffirm that we can manage everything, even in the midst of this crisis — and Zoom can still provide the oversight that they need — but doing it all remotely.”
Zoom’s one-click meeting of minds
When Big-D Construction chose to augment the Procore platform with the Zoom integration in February 2020, the timing happened to coincide with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent slowdown of the workforce. At the time, Carter was simply seeking a replacement for their old video conferencing tool. “I couldn’t do anything I needed to. There was no functionality for me to jump from my laptop to my tablet or smartphone and be able to do demos during the session. It basically crippled me.”
Today, the simplicity of the Zoom interface in the Procore platform is winning Big-D’s hearts and hard hats — from the Pacific to the Great Midwest, and from manufacturing to healthcare to multi-family.
“To be able to quickly create a Zoom meeting with one click in Procore’s Meetings tool,” Carter says, “and at the same time visually show real-time project detail to the attendees — wherever they are — that’s a game-changer. The fact that you don’t have to operate in two different spaces to actually get visual information to a connected party in these meetings — it’s completing two tasks for us in one click. That’s a win every day of the week.”
Zoom makes video meetings quick and easy, saving time, resources, and budget. Reliable video communications have become an important tool on the modern job site.
“Construction is a relationship industry, and the ability to connect, especially right now, has been incredibly helpful,” she said. “It allows us to maintain these bonds with our architects, with our owners — with everyone on the project, really. Because some of us feel a little disconnected and a little uneasy.
“Being able to look people in the eye and say, ‘Hey, look — everything isn’t necessarily going to be okay. We can’t assure you there. But we’re going to do everything we can to provide a space that is not only safe, but that is continuing to put work in place.’ That means a lot.”
The Zoom integration on a construction site does more than just keep the project moving forward during uniquely challenging times.
“During our all-hands meetings, our president calls us a family,” Carter said. “And it feels like a family. We’re sitting there on a Zoom meeting, and my massive screen is filled with more faces than I’ve ever seen in one space. Actually seeing the faces interact with one another, it’s everything.”
Courtney Mohl is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Procore.