Three critical topics for AE firms in 2024

Three topics architectural engineering firms should focus on in 2024 include technological disruption and workforce dynamics.

By Morrissey Goodale December 18, 2023
Courtesy: Brett Sayles, CFE Media and Technology

As AE firms set their sights on 2024, the industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, presenting both unprecedented challenges and exciting opportunities. From technological advancements to shifting client expectations, a myriad of factors will shape the business landscape next year.

To prepare for what’s to come, here are three important topics and a whole bunch of questions for you and your leadership team to ponder:

Topic #1: Embracing technological disruption

One of the first topics to grapple with is how to embrace and harness technological disruption. In an era marked by astonishingly swift advancements in AI, augmented reality, and generative design, AE firms must evaluate how these technologies can enhance processes and deliverables.

The right questions to ask:

How can we integrate emerging technologies into our workflows to improve efficiency and creativity?

How will your firm integrate technology to build competitive advantages, improve efficiency, foster innovation, and meet client expectations? How will you leverage technology to attract and retain top talent?

What investments in technology are necessary to stay competitive in our evolving target markets?

How will your firm invest in data analytics for informed decision-making, customer relationship management (CRM) systems for personalized engagement, and cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive information? What about cloud computing solutions that can enhance flexibility and scalability as well as AI and machine learning applications that can automate processes and offer predictive insights? Will you invest in digital marketing technologies and e-commerce platforms to reach and engage clients?

How can we ensure that our team is equipped with the skills needed to leverage these technologies effectively?

What will your firm’s strategy be for employee development in this arena? That will take exploring ongoing training programs that cover the specific technologies relevant to your firm and its clients and ensuring that employees stay updated on the firm’s latest tools and methodologies. Should you collaborate with educational institutions, industry certifications, or online learning platforms? What about mentorship programs and knowledge-sharing initiatives to facilitate the transfer of skills within the team? And how about recognizing and rewarding employees for acquiring and applying new technological skills to keep them engaged in their own development?

Topic #2: Talent acquisition and development

Despite the meteoric rise of technology, the AE industry will continue to rely heavily on skilled professionals. Talent acquisition and development will remain critical strategic considerations in 2024.

The right questions to ask:

How can we attract and retain top-tier talent in a competitive market?

What is your firm’s current reputation as an employer, and how can you enhance its appeal to top talent? What are the expectations and priorities of prospective employees, and how can you align your workplace culture and benefits accordingly? What about talent development strategies? How will your firm provide ongoing learning and growth opportunities to keep your team engaged and continuously improving? And what are your rivals offering in terms of compensation, benefits, and work environment? Are you ahead, keeping pace, or falling behind?

What training and development programs can we implement to nurture the skills and expertise of our existing team?

What specific skills are currently lacking or need enhancement within your firm? What professional goals do your employees have, and how can you tailor development initiatives to align with their aspirations? How can you ensure that your firm’s training programs remain adaptive and aligned with the latest technological advancements?

In what ways can we promote diversity and inclusion within our firm to foster a more dynamic and innovative workplace?

How is your firm currently perceived in terms of diversity and inclusion, and what steps can you take to enhance your firm’s efforts? What are the unique needs and expectations of your firm’s employees concerning diversity and inclusion, and how can you tailor your initiatives accordingly? What barriers exist within your organization that may hinder diversity and inclusion, and how can you proactively address and overcome them?

Topic #3: Adapting to remote work dynamics

COVID seems so 2020. Yet while I know of several firms that have near-perfect in-office attendance, I know at least 10 times more that have a hybrid workplace. The pandemic has reshaped the way we work, with remote collaboration becoming the new norm, and that’s not going to change in 2024.

The right questions to ask:

What measures can we put in place to foster effective collaboration among remote teams?

What other tools and platforms can be implemented to facilitate seamless communication and project collaboration among remote team members? How can you establish clear communication protocols and channels to ensure that remote teams stay well-connected and informed? What strategies can be employed to build and maintain a strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie among remote team members? How can you adapt your project management processes to suit the unique challenges of remote work and ensure productivity? What measures can be taken to address potential feelings of isolation or burnout among remote team members and enhance their overall work experience?

How can we maintain a strong company culture and employee engagement in a virtual setting?

What aspects of your firm’s culture are most important to preserve in a virtual environment, and how can you reinforce these values remotely? How can you effectively communicate your company’s mission, vision, and objectives to remote employees and ensure alignment with the organizational culture? What virtual team-building activities and events can be implemented to foster a sense of unity and collaboration among remote team members?

How can we develop our less-experienced staff in a remote work environment?

How can you ensure that less-experienced staff have easy access to training materials, mentorship programs, and educational opportunities in a remote setting? What virtual mentorship initiatives can be implemented to provide guidance and support? How can you facilitate virtual collaboration and knowledge-sharing to enhance learning through shared experiences? What virtual feedback processes can be established to provide regular and constructive input? How can you design and implement remote-friendly training programs that cater to the unique needs and learning styles of less-experienced staff?

Morrissey Goodale is a CFE Media and Technology content partner.

Original content can be found at Morrissey Goodale.