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AEC Collaboration: How it Works in Hybrid Environments

October 11, 2022
HP Teradici

HP Teradici is the inventor of the PCoIP remote display protocol and develops the Engineering Emmy-Award-winning HP Anyware (formerly Teradici CAS) to deliver the best virtual and remote desktop experience in the world.


The AEC industry has historically been a collaborative arena. Designing buildings, analyzing structures, and liaising with different project partners all require collaboration, either in real time or otherwise. Businesses have improved their fluency of working online and are now adopting hybrid work environments. And collaboration remains a hot topic. 

Hybrid workforces can be spread across the world, but they still require the same user experience and collaboration abilities as if they were in a physical workspace together. With employees working from the office, at home, at client’s offices, on-site, and more likely, a combination of all, team members no longer have the option to stop by each other's desks for a quick look at a walkthrough and to share feedback. 

How can architects, designers, and general contractors work together while they’re apart and still be as creative and deliver the same level of quality? 

In our first post of our three-part blog series on AEC hybrid working models, we defined the security needs for AEC teams. In this second part, we look at how collaboration works in the AEC industry and what the future of collaboration will be in hybrid environments. 

Types of AEC collaboration

To complete a building project, an architect might collaborate with multiple parties, including electrical and mechanical engineers, interior designers, clients, and contractors. Some of these teams may be in different locations from the architect, others may be in different time zones. 

What the architect in our example, and most AEC professionals, need is a combination of both asynchronous and real-time collaboration to fulfil projects. 

  1. Asynchronous collaboration 

With asynchronous collaboration, project members across time zones can use applications such as Revit that offers a sync-to-central model feature. Asynchronous collaborative environments allow AEC teams to work together no matter where individuals are located. 

  1. Real-time collaboration 

AEC teams want the ability to co-edit during the collaboration process when working on Revit or AutoCAD. While not all architects want people watching them as they work, real-time collaboration is an important aspect of completing projects with other team members. It allows for creativity and real-time problem-solving. You can see real-time collaboration in action in this AEC designers and engineers webinar. 

Teams and managers need to strike a balance between working individually and working together so professionals don’t feel like they’re being watched all the time and micro-managed but are still able to brainstorm and be creative. 

There is no perfect collaborative method in the AEC industry. It is more likely that teams will use a combination of asynchronous and real-time collaboration to complete their projects.  

Collaboration challenges in hybrid work

During the webinar entitled Navigating remote work challenges and opportunities in the AEC industry, a panel of subject matter experts discussed the particular challenges AEC professionals overcome in hybrid workspaces. 

Architects and designers require flexible access to high compute power that mirrors the experience of working on physical workstations. Whether it’s working on Building Information Modelling (BIM) authoring tools, using AutoCAD or Revit, AEC use cases require powerful workstations, either physical or on the cloud, that can offer graphics-intensive 3D visualization applications. 

Additionally, files in the AEC space tend to be very large. Digital twins, LiDAR scans, digital blueprints, and digital BIM can take up terabytes of data. Uploading these files to a shared drive for someone else to download can take a considerable amount of time. And one doesn’t get the real-time collaboration benefits of being in the same space. 

There are also considerable security risks to collaborating online. Personal devices aren’t managed by the company and when AEC professionals access unmanaged networks, they can open the company’s data to cyberattacks. 

In the remote work challenges webinar, Jaymes Davis, Vice President of Composable Architecture Delivery & Strategy at Tehama pinpointed the need to centralize data and files. “Where DaaS and cloud-based desktops really start making sense is because I don’t have to deal with the physical endpoint. Instead, it’s in the cloud, and it has the ability for both desktops to see the same piece of data at a relatively moderate speed instead of being at the bandwidth that’s all the way out at the endpoint or the last mile-marker.” This helps AEC professionals access the same data no matter where they are and what endpoint they have.  

However, where the data is centralized needs to be considered, explained Ronen Vengosh, VP of Construction and Engineering at Egnyte. “If you’re centralizing the data in your previous office where folks are not present, you’re essentially subjecting everybody to latencies and big issues around collaboration.” Cloud centralization can mitigate these latency problems and help improve user experience and productivity. 

As an added measure, AEC professionals should use a broker that gives them secure access to centralized data, files and graphics so they don't need heavy endpoints. Instead of carrying heavy devices with them, something lightweight like a Chromebook can access the cloud that hosts the data and is easy to take on-site or to clients’ offices. 

Read more about the changing technology of AEC in our whitepaper. 

The future of AEC collaboration technology

HP Anyware secured access to digital workspaces, formerly Teradici CAS, now includes some of the collaboration features of ZCentral Remote Boost, with more to be released and updated throughout 2022. Collaboration in Anyware allows users to invite others to a session with a code so invitees can view the session in real time. More collaborative features, including mouse and keyboard takeover, will be available in future Anyware releases. 

Alongside collaboration, HP Anyware offers a variety of productivity options for AEC professionals. Remoting-in to endpoint devices using HP Anyware gives users a similar experience to sitting at an office workstation, improving productivity. Anyware also supports peripherals used by AEC designers including 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse, multiple 4K monitors, and Wacom pens and tablets. 

Anyware’s build-to-lossless capability seamlessly replicates the visuals from the host workstation to the client side for graphics-intensive applications like AutoCAD, Revit, BIM 360, ArcGIS, and MicroStation. After interaction is complete, the image displayed on the client endpoint becomes static and a perfect recreation of the image on the host system. 

HP Anyware includes three components.  

  • Deployed in the host system, the PCoIP Agent offers a great deal of flexibility with the ability to run on Windows, Mac, or Linux operating systems and physical workstations, data center servers or public cloud instances.  
  • PCoIP clients can be installed on any type of device – PCs, Macs, laptops, tablets – as well as on Zero Clients and Thin Clients.  
  • Anyware Manager configures, manages and monitors the brokering of remote workstations.

With HP Anyware, AEC teams can access powerful workstations and have a seamless user experience rivalling being in the office, no matter where they are located, as long as they have access to a network connection. Work where you work best when you use HP Anyware. 

In our final post of the series, we outline the benefits of digital workspaces for hybrid AEC teams 

To learn more about how AEC professionals can leverage HP Anyware in a hybrid environment, watch our latest webinar on how to Drive the Agility and Productivity of your Architecture Business in the Age of Hybrid Work. 

HP Teradici

HP Teradici is the inventor of the PCoIP remote display protocol and develops the Engineering Emmy-Award-winning HP Anyware (formerly Teradici CAS) to deliver the best virtual and remote desktop experience in the world.