At a time when all of us need the support of our friends and families to cope with the impacts of COVID-19, we also find ourselves isolated. Fortunately, thanks to 2020 technology, digital portals offer new and creative ways to keep connected to our families, friends, and coworkers so none of us feel alone.

In part one of our “Business as Unusual” series about how one company, Sol, is adapting, we shared tools and methods for being productive as we push toward continued company and industry growth. For part two, we’d like to shift gears and share ways we are engaging our community and connecting with each other, preserving what makes Sol so special.

Game Night – Kate Brandus – Director, SREC Asset Management

In late March, I had a game night with my cousins using the “Houseparty” app. This was my first time doing a virtual game night, but it ended up being ton of fun! Prior to the COVID crisis, Sol Systems would host game nights every month or so, and they were always a great time and good for team building. So I decided to bring the game I played with my cousins to my coworkers and host our first virtual game night. 

The game night ended up being a lot of fun and provided me with an opportunity to bond with colleagues after work that I normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity to.

Intranet Channels – Ann Sweitzer – Human Resources Director

When we transitioned to a remote work environment in early March due to COVID-19, one question that we wanted to address was, “How do we maintain our culture and employee morale in a remote environment?” What makes Sol a special place is our people and we wanted to ensure that everyone felt connected and engaged even though we were no longer together in the office. We got creative and implemented various virtual sessions including coffee meetings, morning mindfulness, evening happy hours, yoga, lunch time roundtables, book clubs, etc., to keep the team engaged.

It was important for us to be inclusive of all so we also used the platform Microsoft Teams to foster communication in a remote setting and created channels Working While Parenting, Mental Health & Wellbeing, and other groups. Channels are built around a topic where you can hold meetings, having conversations and share resources. We also created the Sol Hub in SharePoint as a landing page for company events, project wins, special life events, COVID-19 related news and general team resources.  

We’re continuing to think of ideas on how we can foster our Sol culture in a remote workforce. During this challenging time with unprecedented change and uncertainty, it is more important than ever that our team feels supported, engaged and connected.

Sourdough Roundtable – Sandhya Mahadevan – Business Development Senior Associate

The thing I miss the most about being in the office is being around people I care about and catching up on their lives. We have an extremely caring and social culture at the office, and something everyone can connect to is food. Before COVID, coworkers often brought in treats to share with the office, whether they be home-made or from travel. Now in isolation, an extra focus on cooking has become a welcome distraction, and our team has naturally been chatting more about our culinary creations even if we can’t physically share food with one another.

As someone who is extremely new to bread-baking, I had questions and knew a few people who were seasoned bakers. I collected questions in advance and sent them to my “panelists” in preparation for a Q&A session about sourdough that we held over video chat. People really enjoyed it, and at the very least, I learned some new tips for my sourdough technique. I may try to host another roundtable in the next month, potentially on coffee. Similar to sourdough, I’m no expert on coffee, but I’m curious, and I need something to obsess over besides washing my hands.  

Charity’s most critical team building tool

Morning Coffee Chats – Charity Sack – Senior Director, Marketing & Communications

Sol’s coffee culture runs deep. At any given hour in Sol’s history, two or more people are sure to be connecting on business, family, or just fun matters over a cup of joe. In fact, the coffee connection is so important to our bonds that it’s incorporated into onboarding for new team members. Whether they enjoy java or prefer another beverage, a full line-up of coffee chats is scheduled to kick off their Sol careers with a full cup.

Fast forward to 2020 stay at home. From day one of the company starting to work 100% remotely, we formalized and reinforced our coffee culture to maintain our community connections even when telecommuting. 

We booked team coffee chats, at first daily, and then 2-3 times a week via Teams video. We have actually connected even more often and more broadly through our virtual coffee chats. We tackle any concerns if they come up, plan out the day, meet our teammates children, dogs, and cats, and get virtual home tours.

Turns out the Sol coffee culture is a cornerstone of our resilience toolbox as we work together to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on our business and in our communities. 

Mike and his kids take part in our recent video

Business Book Club – Mike Gibson – Chief Technology Officer

 Self-improvement and professional development are very important to the members of the Sol Systems team. I myself am a fan of the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats” – the more we can develop our individual talents and understanding of their application to our business, the better we’ll perform and the more good we can do as an organization. To help in “raising the tide,” we started a Business Book Club at Sol. The club is open to all members of the Sol Systems team, regardless of position or title. Each month, the club sponsors a discussion of a business or management book and its application to our work at Sol.

Thanks to the fantastic suite of Office 365 products from Microsoft, the club hasn’t skipped a beat during the shift to remote work – meetings have moved from the conference room to Microsoft Teams, and participation has remained steady. With these tools, we’re able to collaborate as if nothing has changed, and continue to maintain a level of personal interaction that we otherwise might have lost.

ABOUT SOL SYSTEMS

Sol Systems is a leading national solar energy firm with an established reputation for integrity and reliability across its development, infrastructure and environmental commodity businesses.To date, Sol has developed and/or financed over 850 MW of solar projects valued at more than $1 billion for Fortune 100 companies, municipalities, counties, utilities, universities and schools. The company also actively shapes and trades in environmental commodity and electricity markets throughout the United States. The company was founded in 2008, is based in Washington D.C, and is led by its founder. Sol Systems works with its team, partners, and clients to create a more sustainable future we can all believe in. For more information: www.solsystems.com

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