Project Management

Virtual ‘Big Room’ Keeps a Project Running

Carl Tully

At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020, hospitals were among the organizations most immediately and deeply affected. Because of the immediate action and focus on critical issues—such as upgrading ventilation, building temporary structures and expanding emergency departments—many healthcare organizations were forced to pause construction projects and redirect resources to Covid-related efforts. In a survey of healthcare leaders conducted by Health Facilities Management, 76 percent of respondents reported having delayed one or more construction projects due to the pandemic, while 29 percent reported canceling at least one project altogether.

In our work on Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) hospital expansion project, the pandemic forced the design team, led by NBBJ, to shift from an in-person integrated project delivery model that relied heavily on collocation to a fully virtual work model in a matter of days. Shortly thereafter, the project was put on hold due to the understandable need to focus on urgent patient volumes and other issues. Through strong communication and the use of digital tools and organizational methods, the entire team was able to collaborate in real time, keeping the project on track despite massive disruption. The team’s ability to pivot also allowed the project to restart quickly and efficiently once it…

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Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.

- Robert Frost