The need to work from anywhere was not on anybody’s mind a few years ago, today its almost anywhere, this is not only because of whats the world is going through at the moment but because of the changes that the industry started going through just a couple of years ago, for example, the multinational teams that worked on the Burj Khalifa(link to article) and other buildings around the world, which meant that your practice was in one country while your project was in another, this created a few problems for these teams, how do they work and communicate efficiently over these wast distances without compromising quality and productivity, apps like skype make it possible to video call and you could always make a phone call, then there was the fuss of emailing documents to each other after each change of design only to be told that it not what your client is looking for and then emailing it back to your team to make corrections and sent it back. Things have changed since then, now you can work from home or basically work from anywhere. this was primarily made possible by design software intergrading their desktop suites with more cloud-based solutions enabling architects and designers to collaborate from anywhere in the world, so lets a look at the apps that makes collaboration, working from home or working from anywhere possible.
Cloud storage makes working remotely easy, having access to your files on the go without continuously logging into to your office computer is the key to being productive and secure on the move, your backups will always be well protected because cloud storage companies include data redundancy, your data is stored on multiple servers all over the world making data loss virtually impossible and your data easily retrievable, another thing that Cloud Storage companies protect against ransomware and malware, you might lose all your data on your computer but your data on your cloud storage will always be protected, there’s a bunch of cloud storage solutions, I use google drive, one drive and dropbox depending on my storage needs and the software platform I use them with, below is a list of cloud storage solutions that are reputable and has a good track record.
OneDrive comes baked in with windows 10 making it one of the more convenient cloud storage solutions on this list, setting it up is as easy as logging into your computer with your email account and it immediately starts syncing your documents to one OneDrive, you will also find apps for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Xbox and desktop apps for older versions of windows and Mac, its also tightly integrated with Microsoft office and office 365 making realtime collaboration easy and convenient.
Microsoft OneDrive comes default with 5gb free storage with an extra 1TB with your $5.00 Microsoft 365 business basic subscription, a great deal if you have a team that works remotely, or you can get 100GB at $1.99 per month, the anti-ransomware protection and cross-platform integration makes OneDrive an attractive choice especially for small teams.
2. Amazon Drive
Amazon Drive at the moment is not as convenient as the other services on this list but it’s getting there slowly they still have a few kinks to iron out when it comes to cross-platform integration it, however, is a solid solution mostly because of Amazons block-level file copying,
Amazon Prime users get free unlimited, full-resolution photo storage and 5 GB video storage, Amazons got an annual storage plan that starts a 100gb for $19.99 and a 1TB plan for $59.99
The granddaddy dropbox was my first introduction to cloud storage, it’s still a contender even though others might give larger free entrance storage than it does, Dropbox gives you 2 GB free storage, with the plus subscription giving you 2TB of storage for 9.99 / month and the professional, $16.58 a/month, it’s easy to set up and integrate with all your devices.
4. Google Drive
Google Drive does not need any introduction, its default with google chrome, chrome os or android devices all you need is your google email and your set, ok it’s not that simple you do need to sync your data from your devices to google drive and even that is made easy with the help of google data backup and sync, google like one drive comes with its own office suite which makes a powerful tool for anyone that plans on working remotely, you get 15 GB free cloud storage automatically, you can get 100 GB for 1.99/month or 19.99 per year or 2TB at 9.99/month or 99.99 per year
there’s clearly a trend with each one of the service providers, they all give free storage space to start with and then charge you for an increase in storage, the free storage is good enough for most of us but the extra 100GB for $1.99 / month like in the case of Google One makes data storage on the cloud a no brainer.
A project does not start with the construction drawing, its starts with an idea, an idea that’s later relayed into a workable design, you need apps that allow you to skets, design, and present changes and new ideas to your team and clients, the transition from paper to a digital medium can seem daunting but is rather easy, you won’t notice the difference, apps like sketchbook and Morpholio makes it effortless after a while. The apps on this list are all either for sketching or design click here for CAD software.
5. Morpholio Trace & Morpholio board
Morpholio Trace is a great sketching tool with CAD capabilities for architect and generally any designer it offers more than just tracing existing images, the only downside with the app is its availability, you would have to transition to an iPad to use it, either than that, its the perfect dream software for architects.
Procreate states that its made for artist and that is evident from the types of drawings you can do with procreate, procreate will not disappoint if you love sketching on the go, look at these 10 Procreate Projects To Inspire Your Next Design for some inspiration, and $9.99 honestly is a great number for a great tool like this.
7. Autodesk sketchbook
Autodesk sketchbook comes with a free basic version and a pro version, I tried the free version and it was everything I was hoping it would be, a bit tricky at first but got used to in no time, Autodesk SketchUp helps with a lot of on-site meetings with clients, the convenience for me was the way it integrates well with other Autodesk tools, there’s a great introductory tutorial on skillshare check it out
8. Concepts app
Concepts app’s distraction-free clean interface makes it one of my favorite apps, and the availability of the app on all the major platforms make the concepts app appealing you don’t have to switch from your preferred hardware tool to use it, the free version gets you 5 layers and lots of brushes, it offers simplicity for the beginner and hidden goodies for the power user.
This list could go on forever because of the vast number of design apps on the mobile apps store, many of the apps are a bit sketchy and has names similar to genuine apps, so be careful what you download.
CAD,BIM Software, and 3d viewers
Autodesk provides a range of apps that makes collaboration easy, their products range from bim 360, Fusion, AutoCAD web and Mobile, these apps are ideal if you are already part of the Autodesk ecosystem,
The mobile apps for architecture are:
- BIM 380
- BIM 380 Glue
- BIM 380 PLan
- BIM 380 Field
10. Graphisoft BIMx Explorer
I use Graphisoft Bimx almost every day, clients seem to understand it easily, I would normally send a link along with a 3d model and design of their house, its also a great tool if you want your team to have access to what your working on, its basically the power of BIM in the palm of your hands
11. SketchUp Mobile Viewer
The SketchUp Mobile Viewer is a no brainer if you’re a SketchUp user, its a great way to view your models on the go, its honestly a great tool, you can check your dimensions, or show animations of the project to your clients, what I liked most about SketchUp mobile viewer is that you can import 3D models directly from the 3D warehouse, you can also get your own models through tremble connect or through dropbox, note that this is a viewer app so modeling is out, you, however, get tools like the measurement tool that makes working with the SketchUp mobile viewer great, and another thing it’s free so try it out
The other part of working remotely is managing your projects, resources, and virtual communication.
Virtual meetings: virtual meetings are commonplace in today’s workplace, it not only makes communication between teams easy and convenient but also cuts down on traveling cost, Zoom seems to be making a lot of noise for all the wrong reason but is by far more convenient than many other video conferencing software, another video conferencing tool is the granddaddy skype that comes conveniently preinstalled with windows 10, then there is google meet whos advantage is that you only need a Gmail account, there’s a lot more out there like GoToMeeting, RingCentral Video, Microsoft Teams, ClickMeeting, U Meeting, BigBlueButton, Bluejeans Meetings, and Lifesize, there are so many choices the best thing to do is for you and your team to choose one and stick to it.
14. google Meets
16. RingCentral Video
17. Microsoft Teams
19. U Meeting
21. Bluejeans Meetings
Project Management Software: I’ve been using Trello for a while because of its easy to use and quick to understand interface, which is a great thing simplicity is most of the times better, it makes collaboration easy and flexible, I recently tried another app called Clickup, ClickUp is another management app that is simple and convenient for collaborative work, what I’ve noticed is that many other apps in this sector basically look and work the same, you can also look at Newforma if you are looking for something that’s tailored for Architecture.
Looking for the right apps to work remotely can sometimes be a hassle but is worthwhile, the reward really outweighs the time it takes to find the right app, my advise is to stick to the software you use on your desktop, by that I mean if Autodesk AutoCAD is you, daily driver than use Autodesk collaborative software like 360, the list of online and mobile apps are in abundance, another company that provides the same type of service is Graphisoft Archicad, Bim cloud and Bimx makes using Archicad convenient.
There is no excuse in this age of connectivity, stay focused and working remotely will be a great experience.