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Q&A: Building Resiliency During COVID-19

Featured by New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility

We are all learning new ways to adapt and be flexible around the challenges of COVID-19. We were able to sit down virtually with Eric Soederberg, President and CEO of Sunrise Labs, a product development firm, to gain insight into the solutions Sunrise has implemented to continue to meet client and employee needs during these unprecedented times. We hope that you may be able to use some of the tools, approaches, and insights Eric shares to help strengthen the resiliency of your own organization.

Can you paint a broad picture of the challenges COVID-19 has presented for Sunrise Labs and your response?

I felt it was important to take early action – ahead of any government guidance – and asked everyone that could work from home to do so, over a month ago. Thanks, in part, to the many tools Sunrise has invested in through the years for communication and collaboration, we are able to work quite efficiently from remote locations. 

Many of our clients have been deemed essential businesses given the important work they do in providing lifesaving medical devices. We’re proud we’ve been able to continue progress on their important programs with negligible if any impact to date.  Our team is now 90%+ working remotely and continuing to collaborate with clients. This has also afforded the few team members that do need to be in our facility for access to equipment, etc. the ability to stay fairly isolated with so few of them in our facility. 

Are there certain tools or project management efforts you might be able to share that could be helpful to other NHBSR members?

Each department holds frequent video conference calls with their teams, using Google Meet (Hangout Meet), which solved the need for face-to-face interaction. We are now using Slack, a tool we routinely use for team communication with clients, as another way for Sunrise team members to keep in touch. We’ve set up two new channels in Slack. The first is ‘The Water-Cooler, which is where employees can post anything non-business related, like images of their ‘coworker pets’ or what they did over the weekend with the kids. It’s important for us to still feel connected to each other. The second channel is for business-related topics. Then, I send out a “Sunrise Update” twice a week on how the company is doing and thanking people for their amazing efforts.  I meet with my leadership team 3 mornings a week via Meet to check in on how their teams are doing. We still hold our regular monthly company meetings, now instead of having 5% of the company on Meet, we have 100% on Meet.

Medical device development is a highly regulated industry, and project documentation continues to be a key component of our quality management system. We have been using a robust set of cloud-based project management tools for years, including Huddle and JIRA.  This made moving to remote work much easier than it otherwise might have been.  

How is Sunrise Labs addressing the Health and well-being of employees during this difficult time?

We are also responding to the unique health and well-being challenges that Covid-19 presents.  Many of our families are struggling with the stay-at-home situation.  This is not unique to Sunrise.  Kids are home from school and back from college, daycare facilities are either shut down or not deemed safe, grandparents that may have helped with child care have to stay isolated, spouses and older children are furloughed or lost their jobs, and the list goes on.  Sunrise is being very flexible on when work can be done and on providing leave options where necessary that preserve benefits and provide a paycheck, though not always full-pay.  To help deal with the stress we offered a conference and a webinar that presented tools, practices, and tips to maintain our mental health throughout this crisis and beyond.

Some of our regular health/wellness initiatives have also continued, although the onsite yoga has moved to Meet, and chair massages have been on hold. We have kept our after-hours meditation group going virtually as well as our bi-weekly ‘lunch & learn’ nutrition class.  The Green Team’s first newsletter went out recently to educate and encourage people to continue composting and instructions on how to build a simple ‘keyhole’ garden.

From a marketing standpoint, all the events that we were planning on have either gone virtual or were postponed to September. September is going to be a very busy month!  Instead of speaking engagements, we’ve been doing podcasts and webinars to share thought leadership with our audience.

Thank you, Eric, for taking the time to talk about some of Sunrise Lab’s efforts and initiatives. We are looking forward to getting to the other end of this and are so appreciative of how members like you are so willing to share their experiences and knowledge!

New Hampshire Businesses for Social Responsibility (NHBSR) convenes, inspires, and supports businesses and their community stakeholders to build a more sustainable and prosperous state for all.

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