Helping Schools and Business Go Remote While Figuring Out How to Best Support Our Employees Too

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  • May 4, 2020

Over the past few months during the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of schools and businesses across the country have made the transition to operating remotely for the foreseeable future. As a result, more engineering design professionals, instructors, and students are turning to online learning tools for essential training and course materials.

For our team at SolidProfessor, an online learning platform for CAD, CAM, and BIM software, this posed a unique opportunity to support our members and meet an urgent need. When the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders began, we put all hands-on deck to find ways to give back and help businesses and schools make the transition to operating remotely. We hosted webinars, accelerated our onboarding process, and dedicated team members across all departments to lending a hand and helping.

But ironically, while we were helping schools and businesses figure out how to go remote, we had to figure out how to make the same transition on our own.

One of the most urgent challenges was finding a way to provide access to all of the software that our team uses to develop video-based courses for SOLIDWORKS, AutoCAD, Mastercam, and Inventor, among several others. Running these programs requires more powerful machines and software licenses that our team did not have access to at home.

So, we had the idea to use a remote desktop control tool that allows our team to log into their office computers from anywhere. We enabled it for our content development team (the design engineers who make our video tutorials) and they were up and running in a day or two.

That was a quick issue to solve but adapting to fully remote work has been more of an ongoing challenge to overcome. SolidProfessor has had a long-standing policy offering the ability to work-from-home once a week, but on any given day, our small office located on sunny San Diego’s waterfront was always full of innovative conversations and collaboration.

We pride ourselves on our company culture — but how do you translate that to a remote work environment?

Our team has been hard at work trying to figure out just that.

Thankfully, as a team of engineering design enthusiasts, innovative solutions to problems is one of our strong suits. Here are some of the ways our team has stayed connected during COVID-19: 

  • Early on in our transition to remote work, we started a #remote_but_connectedmessaging channel on Slack for the whole company. Most days it’s full of morning greetings, pet pictures, and questions about what to 3D print at home next. 
  • We put together a “My Quarantine Life” questionnaire for everyone to fill out. The questions centered around how each member of our team is personally adjusting to social distancing, and their tips for staying productive and motivated at home. We featured each team member’s answers in our #remote_but_connected channel! 
  • Our People Operations team shared a series of communication tips throughout the month of May with everyone that were focused on effective online communication. They’ve also conducted surveys to collect everyone’s opinions and ideas on our remote work situation. 
  • We’ve also made sure to set aside time for fun and team building, not just work, when it comes to remote collaboration. So far, this has included a “Remote and Active” fitness challenge, weekly video conference happy hours where we play games together as a company, and even a virtual cooking class!

“It’s interesting,” said Tony Glocker, CEO and co-founder of SolidProfessor, “I really enjoyed seeing everyone’s faces and the spontaneous conversations when we were all in the office. But since the team has been remote, it seems that I’ve gotten to know everyone even better than before.”

We’re always looking for new ways to support our members and our own team during these uncertain times. The ultimate hope is that our members can feel more at ease for as long as distance learning and working from home are part of the new normal, and we are actively working each day to achieve that.

Businesses and schools in the engineering, manufacturing, and architecture industry can learn more about SolidProfessor’s online training platform by getting in touch with us. Design professionals looking to improve their own skills can also sign up for a personal membership in just a few clicks on our website. At SolidProfessor, we are here to help you design with confidence.

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