Hear from the experts on Coronavirus: Managing the business of engineering with NV5 experts

Jerry Bauers and Steven A. Lipson provided expert advice to engineers and others involved in the business of engineering

By Jerry Bauers and Steven A. Lipson April 6, 2020

How is COVID-19 affecting professional aspects of engineering? Consulting-Specifying Engineer checked in virtually to ask engineers and building experts about how Coronavirus is affecting the business of engineering. Hear from NV5 experts Jerry Bauers, PE, Vice President, Chicago; and Steven A. Lipson, CIH, CSP, Vice President – Occupational Health, Safety & Environmental Services, Brandon, Fla.

Question: What business practices has your engineering firm changed? This might include virtual meetings, online-only education or some other change for the staff.

Jerry Bauers and Steven A. Lipson: NV5 has published a COVID-19 policy that restricts personnel from working in our regular offices, mandating remote work whenever possible and restricting travel to essential travel only. We have encouraged our employees to drive to project sites rather than take public transportation where feasible.

Most importantly, we require any employee who is sick to stay home.

Question: How is your firm handling travel to visit clients or projects?

Jerry Bauers and Steven A. Lipson: With a significant portion of our work related to ongoing construction activities, we require our project managers to become familiar with any jobsite COVID-19 policies or procedures published by the contractors or owners and follow all such policies. Further, we encourage our employees to practice social distancing, limiting meetings with groups of people and restricting activities to the smallest groups possible.

Since many of our projects that are moving forward are critical projects, we are encouraging employees that are not at heightened risk and have to travel to project sites on mass transportation to travel at off-peak times and practice exceptional hygiene at all times.

Question: What new ways is your team virtually traveling to trade shows, conferences or events? Where are you finding success?

Jerry Bauers and Steven A. Lipson: We have eliminated all travel to nonessential events. Meetings are held online whenever possible. Where we can use technology for business activities (e.g., commissioning of critical building systems) we are executing as much of that work remotely, limiting onsite presence of personnel as much as possible.

Question: What supply chain issues are you experiencing? Is your firm dealing with any challenges with materials or products from manufacturers or suppliers?

Jerry Bauers and Steven A. Lipson: Not at this time.

Question: What advice do you have for other firms? What best practices would you suggest for working in an unsure environment?

Jerry Bauers and Steven A. Lipson: Make the best use of technology to limit personnel onsite or in-office environments. Be sure that any work you do is scientifically sound.  Employ enhanced cleaning procedures for work sites, work equipment and personal protective equipment. Eliminate all nonessential activities. Monitor and comply with worksite COVID-19 policies.

Monitor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and conditions in your particular area. Follow CDC guidelines for limiting infection.

Author Bio: Jerry Bauers, PE, Vice President, Chicago, and Steven A. Lipson, CIH, CSP, Vice President – Occupational Health, Safety & Environmental Services, Brandon, Fla., NV5