Working Remotely for Small Firms?

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums TECHNOLOGY Working Remotely for Small Firms?

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    Wayne Baldwin

    Does anybody know of any design firms that are able to successfully run with employees working remotely, say at their homes? Could you proovide any information you might have? The firm I am working for is looking to lose the office space we have (10 people) and have one hub location for 3-4 people, while others work from home and may switch off working at the hub. Issues such as repathing xrefs, using Landfx’s licenses, and cloud bugs, are all part of the discussion. I am hoping to find a firm that has successfully worked out a situation like this, so the more information the better. Mahalo from Hawaii!

    Zach Watson

    There is only one of those things I can comment on.  In regards to re-linking XREFs, you don’t have to re-link them if you set up the file system with relative paths.  Here is a link to how to setup a relative path system.


    The best option for you is to use a vpn (virtual private network) that workers will log in to.  The vpn will allow remote users to access a networked storage device as if they were in the office, xrefs and file management practices don’t have to change, AutoCAD lock files are respected by machines on the vpn, and landf/x license management will work seamlessly.  I deployed a small scale vpn at an office I worked at so that the principals could log in and do work from home or on the road.

    If you want a seamless office network for remote and “hub” workers, the VPN is far and away your best option.  Cloud sync/storage utilities like Dropbox do not support the AutoCAD lock files, and you can quickly find yourself in file management and xref hell.  The one caveat for the VPN solution is that everyone will need a speedy internet connection, especially for uploading files back to the hub.


    Our main office is in Atlanta and all of the satelite offices are connect to the network T1 or T2 lines or whatever the number is up too nowdays. However, we do have several individuals all over the country that work remotely who are not directly connected to the network. They all connect through via the VPN as Brendan mentioned below. We also have people who, although mostly are in the office, will work remotely because they are traveling etc. The only complaint I have ever heard is that sometimes working via the VPN can be a bit slow. There is always a work-around though. Depending on your work flow you might just copy the file you need to your home workstation to work on the project and then at the end of the day upload back to the network. The only problem with this if there are other Xrefing your plans they wont see updates until you save it all back to the main server.

    Good luck with your transition.

    Wayne Baldwin

    Thank you all for responding, this is a huge help because I can’t find a Google search on this topic as related to our profession! From what I gather, communication is #1 in being successful, but the technology is a close 2nd. Keep em comin’! 


    I have been working solely from home for an office 4.5 hours from me for going on 2 years now. I worked in the office for about a year, but have been up in the high rockies since 2010.

    We share files via ftp that I setup on our network a little over a year ago. Before that we used a vpn but it was slow, glitchy, and unreliable. Now we either just email files back and forth or upload/download them via the ftp and work with the files on our hard drives natively. Every month or so we are sure to back up files and be sure that everything is uploaded to the server at the office.

    I have standalone licenses on my laptop for adobe suite, sketchup, and autocad. We’ve done every type of project you could imagine in the past two years with no problems. For comments and markups we typically use acrobat to ‘redline’ pdf’s or simply markup manually and scan.

    We often do conference calls via goto meeting with clients and use desktop sharing to discuss plans via phone live.

    As far as I can tell it has been a huge step in a positive direction for the small office I work for. Everyone is happy, able to set their own schedule for the most part. I ski or ride my bike almost everyday and always meet deadlines.

    The down side is that it can be hard to get away from the office when its in your living room! I often slack a little during the day and make up time in the evenings. I prefer it this way, but sometimes a few hours in the evening can turn into me sitting on my laptop until midnight, albeit in the comfort of my living room. The other down side is that any design you do at home can feel like youre operating in a vacuum, meaning its hard to bounce ideas off others via phone, but not impossible by any means.

    I’ve adapted my work/design process to accomodate working from home and it has worked great!

    Wilma Stordahl

    I agree with Brendan. A vpn is the best way to go, but the speed of the connection can become unweilding. Because of this, my experience has been that remote staff tend to save the files in which they are working to their desktops. This can create other problems if someone in the office is accessing the file at the same time.

    Bob Luther

    As silly as it sounds I have had consultants who we work with that reclines are done with photographs. We will plot the consultants work, redline it, pin it to the wall and take digital photos rather than scanning ( because of scanning costs and also scanner access) then email or Dropbox a bunch of photos and a note to explain the changes, then a phone call to clarify, we are in the process of going to a more virtual setup, but change is slow.

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