Being a Construction Tech Firm in 2020: Balancing Internal, External Change

A pandemic-plagued 2020 has accelerated construction industry trends like digital collaboration and remote work. Here’s how Bluebeam has approached a wild 2020

To say 2020 has been an unusual year would be an understatement. 

The COVID-19 global pandemic in many ways turned the world on its head. Workplaces shuttered, sending employees home to work remotely indefinitely. Businesses closed. Unemployment skyrocketed. The economy tumbled into a deep recession. Sports leagues were canceled or postponed.   

Social norms were upended, as social distancing, mask wearing and other extreme safety precautions were quickly instituted as the only way to fight the virus’ spread—at least until a vaccine could be developed. In the United States, the high-tension anticipation that typically comes with a presidential election year turned the temperature up on all these events.    

In a matter of months, global trends that had been bubbling underneath the surface came to a frothy head, accelerating ferociously the speed with which e-commerce, digital communication and collaboration were becoming fully mainstream.  

Accelerating digital collaboration 

The construction industry was at the center of it all. As state–by–state lockdowns in the U.S. took hold in mid-March, the construction industry was quickly designated an “essential” business, meaning it would be required to carry on as normal as possible—especially when it came to hospital, healthcare facility or critical infrastructure projects. 

With onsite workers adapting to new jobsite safety procedures—among them temperature checks, mask wearing, physical distancing and shifting schedules and timelines—in-office project engineers and architects, most now working from home, were forced to adjust as well.  

The high-tech tools used in state-of-the-art office environments shifted to a laptop on a kitchen table or makeshift office. What’s more, many at-home construction professionals found themselves managing two distinct teams—their in-field colleagues on a hectic jobsite, and their children at home, as they shifted to remote learning thanks to widespread school closures

Bluebeam’s balancing priorities 

Against this backdrop, construction technology firms like Bluebeam have had to similarly adjust to competing priorities.  

On the one hand, Bluebeam, like every company, has had to manage internal changes brought on by the pandemic—chief among them the challenge of managing a globally dispersed workforce. On the other hand, Bluebeam has had to help customers meet the short-term demands of their new normal while also paying attention to the long-term industry changes likely to come from the massive acceleration of digital collaboration. 

In the above video, The B1M’s Fred Mills interviews two Bluebeam executives about what it’s been like developing construction technology products during these past several months.  

Jason Bonifay, Bluebeam’s chief technology officer, who actually joined the company amid the pandemic and has never met many of his colleagues in-person, and Roger Angarita, Bluebeam’s chief product officer, discuss how the company shifted its product development to further emphasize digital collaboration in the run-up to the release of Revu 20, Bluebeam’s flagship technology solution. 

The two Bluebeam executives also explain how the acceleration of digital collaboration trends in construction has further demonstrated the importance of listening to the market when it comes to development of new products.  

Listening to customers has always been at the center of Bluebeam’s product development process, Angarita said, but this year has further cemented its importance. Customers are, after all, the ones on the front lines of the fast-moving changes happening in the industry, both on jobsites and in offices—wherever they may be.   

“The need for software to bring more interconnectedness to the jobsite is more critical than ever,” Angarita said.