Remote Collaboration in Architecture: Can Architects Work From Home?

Just like firms and organizations in other industries, architectural firms in the AEC industry have had to adjust ever since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been an increasing rise in technological advancements for architects to meet the increasing demands of applications and software to enable architects to work from home. Nonetheless, the question of whether architects can work remotely still lingers. And with this article, you will ascertain the prospects of remote collaboration in architecture.

Job Description of an Architect

Architects design and plan buildings, and the tasks they perform can help us rightly determine whether architects can work remotely or not. Rather than taking architecture as a whole and giving a Yes or No, we shall look at the responsibilities of architects to enable us to determine which of their tasks can be done from home or anywhere, and whether they can work fully remotely or not.

The role of architects spans every stage of the design and construction process, from conceptualization to project completion. Below is a list of 10 tasks architects undertake. We’re drawing this job description from the six broad phases of practice by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) in the United States.

Creating Conceptual Designs

Architects work closely with clients to understand their needs, preferences, and project goals. They develop initial design concepts, considering factors such as aesthetics, functionality, sustainability, and regulatory requirements.

Conducting Site Analysis and Planning

Architects assess the site where a building or structure will be constructed. They analyze factors such as topography, climate, zoning regulations, and environmental impact to inform the design and ensure it aligns with the site conditions.

Applying Building Codes and Regulations

Architects are responsible for understanding and applying building codes, zoning regulations, and other legal requirements. They ensure that the design complies with safety, accessibility, and structural standards.

Creating Technical Drawings and Documentation

Architects create detailed drawings, plans, and specifications that communicate the design intent to builders, contractors, and other stakeholders. These documents include architectural floor plans, elevations, sections, and construction details.

An architectural design under review in zipBoard

Project Management

Architects often serve as project managers, overseeing the implementation of the design. They coordinate with engineers, contractors, and subcontractors to ensure that the construction process aligns with the design intent and meets quality standards and deadlines.

different-tasks-in-zipBoard-for-the-pre-construction-planning-phase-1500x683 - task dashboard - architects can work remotely
Task dashboard in zipBoard (Kanban view)

Collaboration and Coordination

Architects collaborate with various professionals, including engineers, interior designers, landscape architects, and urban planners. They coordinate the integration of different systems, such as electrical, plumbing, and HVAC, to create a cohesive design.

Client Communication

Architects play a crucial role in client communication. They present design proposals, provide updates on the project’s progress, and address any concerns or feedback from clients. Effective communication is vital to ensure client satisfaction and project success.

Incite clients and other project stakeholders to communicate and collaborate on design reviews in zipBoard

Material Selection and Specifications

Architects research and select appropriate materials, finishes, and fixtures for the project. They consider factors such as aesthetics, durability, sustainability, and budget, ensuring that the chosen materials align with the design vision.

Design Reviews and Iterations

Architects conduct design reviews to assess the feasibility, quality, functionality, and aesthetics of the design. They incorporate feedback from clients, consultants, and other stakeholders and iteratively refine the design to achieve the desired outcome.

Architects can work from home - AEC document review in zipBoard
AEC document review in zipBoard

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Construction Administration

During the construction phase, architects visit the site to monitor progress, address any design-related issues or changes, and ensure that the construction aligns with the design specifications. They may also provide clarification or additional information to contractors as needed.

Note: There are different types of architects and they work in different capacities. Some architects may work as solopreneurs, freelancers, or part- and full-time employees. Either of these may be remotely or in person – depending on what the architect wants, as well as the opportunities available to them.

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Can Architects Work from Home?

Pre-pandemic, we would invite clients to our office ‘design lab’ and host in-person sessions to develop design.” However, in an attempt to adapt to the changes that arose with the pandemic, “We employed a digital platform where both our clients and the full team could log into our virtual reality sessions at any time, interact with our spaces, and leave us notes for when we logged back in.

Based on the job description of architects, you may have identified some architecture tasks that can be done remotely (like remote design reviews and iterations), and for others (like site analysis and planning), you’re just wondering how the remote collaboration in architecture, together with engineering and construction will unfold if not in person. Before we dig into which architectural tasks can be done from home, I’d like to establish that prior to the pandemic, some architectural firms were already working remotely. Some of these firms were even built with remote work in mind. So this is to say that, yes – architects can work from home or anywhere they want – provided they have the tools to facilitate that.

Typical examples of architectural firms that were working remotely before the outbreak of the pandemic, according to Sorry, I Was on Mute, include J Kretschmer Architect (hired first remote work in 2005),  Margulies Perruzzi Architects, Saam Architecture. Saam Architecture was founded in 2014 on the ability to work remotely.

See? Architects working remotely isn’t something that just started. It goes way back. And it has improved over time – especially with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced architecture firms to transition to work from home and also led to the surge of technological advancements to aid architects in performing their tasks away from the office.

Moving away from the past, a 2022 research by students from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, revealed an “endorsement” of the prospect of remote working for architects. The results revealed that,

A substantial majority of respondents felt tasks could be performed remotely across all six phases of practice, namely Practice Management tasks (71% average ‘yes’ response), Project Management tasks (81% average ‘yes’ response), Pre-Design tasks (73% average ‘yes’ response), Schematic Design tasks (77% average ‘yes’ response), Construction Documents tasks (79% average ‘yes’ response), and Construction Administration tasks (67% average ‘yes’ response).

Looking at the past and the present, we can conclude that the future of architecture is – in part – remote. It is indeed valid to say that architects can work remotely or work from home – at least using a hybrid work model, since most tasks can be done from home and a majority of architects in different work levels have given the nod for remote work in architecture.

Take a look at the table below to see a breakdown of which tasks can be performed remotely or otherwise.

From the table above, you can see that architects can perform all but one of their tasks remotely – with the aid of the appropriate tools and software (which we will discuss in the next section).

It is only construction administration that cannot be done virtually – but it is sometimes possible – with the aid of technology, again. With construction administration, architects usually have to be onsite to coordinate the project together with the contractors and subcontractors. They have to be there in person to monitor progress and address any design-related issues or changes, as well as ensure that the construction aligns with the design specifications.

However, with the help of drones, architects, and even contractors, can perform virtual site visits. Drones provide a remote and aerial perspective of the construction site, allowing architects and project stakeholders to virtually view the site in real time or through recorded footage. With the help of drones, architects can remotely control the drone’s movements and camera angles, enabling them to navigate and inspect the site from different viewpoints.

Essential Tools To Aid Architects Working from Home

Let’s look at specific examples of tools and software that enable architects to collaborate effectively with engineers, contractors, and other project stakeholders while working from home or anywhere. These tools can also help increase productivity even if you’re working in the office.

CAD software

Architects use CAD software to create 2D and 3D drawings and models of buildings and structures.

Examples: AutoCAD, Revit, SketchUp, and ArchiCAD.

Design review and approval software

Design review and approval software help architects collaborate with clients, consultants, and other stakeholders to review and approve designs.

Examples: zipBoard, PlanGrid, Bluebeam.

can architects work remotely - design feedback and approval tool
Design feedback and approval tool - zipBoard

3D modeling software

3D modeling software enables architects to create realistic 3D models of buildings and structures.

Examples: Blender, Maya, and 3ds Max.

Rendering software

Architects use rendering software to develop realistic images and animations of buildings and structures.

Examples: V-Ray, Corona, and Maxwell.

GIS software

Architects can use GIS software to collect, store, and analyze spatial data.

Examples: ArcGIS, QGIS, and MapInfo.

Surveying software

Surveying software allows architects to collect data about the physical features of the Earth.

Examples: AutoCAD Civil 3D, Bentley MicroStation, and Trimble SketchUp.

Remote sensing software

Remote sensing software enables architects to collect data about the Earth’s surface from a distance.

Examples: Landsat, Sentinel-2, and MODIS.

Online databases

Online databases are a great resource for architects to find information about building codes, regulations, and other resources.

Examples: International Building Code, the National Electrical Code, and the Uniform Plumbing Code.

Legal research software

Architects can use legal research software can to find information about legal issues related to architecture. 

Examples: Westlaw, LexisNexis, and Bloomberg Law.

Project management software

Architects can use project management software to track the progress of projects and to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.

Examples: Microsoft Project, Primavera P6, zipBoard,, and Asana.

Turn on audio👆

Client communication tools

Communication tools enable architects to stay in touch with clients, colleagues, and other stakeholders.

Examples: Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack.

Collaboration tools:

Collaboration tools enable architects to share files, documents, and ideas. They help architects collaborate on projects and get feedback in real-time.

Examples: BIM platforms, zipBoard, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Box.

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Remote monitoring tools

These tools allow architects to monitor the progress of construction projects from a remote location. They can be used to view live video feeds of the construction site, check the status of equipment and materials, and receive alerts about any problems.

Examples: Procore, SnagIt, and Drones.

Streamline your Design Reviews and Collaboration with zipBoard

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zipBoard is a cloud-based design feedback and collaboration platform that facilitates efficient design reviews and collaboration among architects, engineers, and other project stakeholders regardless of their physical location. zipBoard offers a wide range of benefits due to its features tailored to meet the needs of AEC teams working remotely:


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zipBoard seamlessly integrates (via APIs) with document management software and architectural design software. Due to this, architects can easily share their designs, allowing team members to review and provide feedback directly on the design files without leaving their design software or document management platform. This eliminates the need for time-consuming and often cumbersome file-sharing processes, enabling architects to collaborate in real time and iterate on designs swiftly.

zipBoard also has integrations for communication tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack, as well as project management tools like Wrike.

Click to watch video👆

Visual feedback and approval tools

zipBoard has an intuitive interface with visual design feedback features like screenshot and annotate, screen recording, checkmarks, etc. These tools allow clients, contractors, and other project stakeholders collaborating with architects to annotate designs, leave comments, and highlight specific areas for further discussion. This allows for clear feedback and ensures everyone is on the same page.

can architects work from home
Annotation tools in zipBoard (on the left panel of the page)


zipBoard allows architects to collaborate with multiple stakeholders in one platform. All you need to do as an architect is create a project in zipBoard, integrate it with your design tool, and invite all your design review stakeholders using share links. All stakeholders will receive email notifications and they can begin reviewing the project from wherever they are. zipBoard enhances asynchronous reviews and helps improve stakeholder collaboration among AEC teams.

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Version control

zipBoard’s version control feature enables architects to track changes made to the designs, making it easier to manage revisions and maintain an organized workflow.

Task management capabilities

With zipBoard, architects can create tasks and assign them to team members, ensuring that every stakeholder is aware of their tasks and due dates.

can architects work from home
List view of tasks in zipBoard

Project management

zipBoard allows architects to organize their design reviews in phases. The web-based platform helps them create project timelines, set milestones, and monitor progress. These enables architects stay organized, improve turnarounds, and keep projects on track, regardless of geographical location.

Want to see how this works? Try zipBoard for free.

7 Benefits of Remote Work for Architects and Architecture Firms

Access to a wider range of opportunities

Working from home gives architects the opportunity to access opportunities that they would have otherwise not got access to if they were working in-office, from a single location. Remote work allows architects to access clients from different parts of their cities, and even across different counties and regions worldwide. This also benefits architects in emerging markets as they are able to access global opportunities.

Increased turnarounds

When architects work from home, they save time on commuting and work with minimal distractions. Additionally, as a result of the software they use, they are able to streamline their processes. These help increase productivity, thereby leading to faster completion of projects and turnarounds.

Reduced errors and costly risks

Working remotely means making use of software and reducing the use of traditional and manual processes. This helps improve quality and reduce errors and costly risks. For instance, during design reviews, cloud-based design approval tools will enable multiple stakeholders to collaborate asynchronously without losing track of the most recent design, unlike using traditional means to review these documents.

Improved work-life balance

Working from home or anywhere allows architects to have more time for personal projects and also spend time with their families and loved ones. With remote work, architects are able to take good breaks, since their commute time is no longer going to be hours.

Lower fixed costs

Remote firms will be able to save money on business operation costs such as large office spaces and even renting full-time staff, especially now that some architects work part-time in different parts of the world. This money can then be channeled into other equally important aspects of the business.

Increased flexibility

Remote work enables architects to set their own schedules and work at their own pace. It enables them to work at hours of the day that they are most productive – and they can also get time to attend to emergencies that arise during ‘work hours’ because they can always adjust their schedule and make things work.

Reduced commute time and cost

Architects who work from home are able to save time and money on transportation. These resources can be used for other aspects of their personal or professional lives – which is great!

5 Challenges Faced by Architects and Firms when Working Remotely

Remote work in architecture is good, allowing for parallel workflows and increased flexibility for architects. This helps curb some of the challenges faced by architects working in-office who employ traditional sequential workflows. For instance, losing track of the most recent version of the document being worked on, lack of clarity, and delayed approvals, among others. However, remote work also has its own challenges, and architects and architectural firms employing a remote/hybrid work model are likely going to face some of these challenges:

Implementing the appropriate computer systems

Architects need different sets of applications and software to enable them to work effectively from home. However, acquiring the appropriate tools and setting up a workflow of integrated computer systems can be challenging. This challenge encompasses configuring high-performance hardware, coordinating software licenses, establishing secure access to project files, selecting collaboration tools, setting up communication channels, and offering troubleshooting assistance.

Security risks

Architects deal with sensitive client data and valuable intellectual property. Maintaining data security and protecting intellectual property become more critical when working remotely. Ensuring secure file sharing, implementing appropriate access controls, and safeguarding confidential information can be challenging when team members are not physically present in a centralized office environment.

Technical limitations

Architectural design involves the use of specialized software and hardware, such as computer-aided design (CAD) software and high-performance workstations. Remote work may pose challenges in accessing and effectively utilizing these resources, especially if the required software licenses or hardware are not readily available to all team members.

Project Site Visits

Understanding the context and site conditions is crucial for architects. Remote work may limit the ability to visit project sites regularly, impacting the accuracy of design decisions and potentially leading to unforeseen challenges during construction.

Collaboration and Communication

Architecture is a collaboration-heavy field that requires close interaction among team members. Remote work may sometimes hinder face-to-face communication, impeding the exchange of ideas and real-time feedback. Architectural firms may face challenges in maintaining effective communication channels and finding suitable virtual collaboration tools.

Final Thoughts

Can architects work remotely?

The future of work is remote and distributed. Embrace remote work and remote collaboration in architecture.

I would say indeed architects can work from home and anywhere if they have the appropriate tools and software to facilitate working remotely. However, it’s always good to go back to the data – to look at what architects and firms working remotely are actually saying. And that’s what we sought to do with the article. Not every architect may be able to work from home. Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that remote work is here to stay and various industries – including the AEC industry – are putting in measures to adapt. Some architectural tasks are easier done remotely and others done in person – but it doesn’t mean they can’t be done remotely. The future of work is remote and distributed. Embrace remote work and remote collaboration in architecture.

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Author’s bio:

Dorcas is a Content Marketing Specialist at zipBoard. She began her content marketing journey alongside her BA in Political Science and Spanish degree at the University of Ghana. If she is not tapping away at her keyboard or spending time on Twitter and LinkedIn, she spends her day reading articles, newsletters and books.

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