Remote employees face many unique online learning challenges. They can experience Zoom fatigue, have limited opportunities for peer collaboration, and generally dislike more formal training methods.
To promote learning and development in your remote organization, you need to focus on the needs and preferences of today’s remote workers. Here’s how you can encourage and facilitate learning and development on a globally dispersed team:
Before you can design and deliver training, you need to know your employees’ preferred learning styles and learning goals. An easy way to get the necessary information is to send pulse surveys to relevant employees.
You can use pulse surveys to learn how, when, and where your employees prefer to learn and what they need to improve. You can schedule surveys based on employee milestones and segment survey submissions based on department, location, manager, tenure, and more to get relevant insights for your learning and development strategy.
Thirty-seven percent of remote workers don’t feel connected to their colleagues. While hosting regular team-building activities can help remote employees feel more connected to their worldwide peers, collaborative training sessions can accomplish the same while also helping them upskill.
Collaborative learning not only encourages socialization but can improve team performance. Eighty-three percent of learning and development professionals believe that when teams learn collaboratively online, they perform better.
Collaborative learning can look like this:
Tip: Avoid overusing virtual instructor-led teaching, which can cause Zoom fatigue. Instead, use collaborative meetings for small group discussions, where learners have more opportunities to participate and connect with their peers instead of simply observing a lesson. Learn more about how to combat meeting fatigue while working remotely .
If you want to encourage employees to pursue their individual learning goals, provide them with a stipend for additional training, career development, or educational resources related to their professional interests.
Some companies provide a monthly stipend of anywhere from $30–$100, while others offer an annual stipend. Monthly stipends work well for employees who want to spend their allowance on an ongoing subscription or recurring classes, while annual stipends work better for more significant investments.
Companies with a remote workforce benefit from this learning and development initiative because it allows their globally dispersed workers to increase their learning opportunities in a personalized way, regardless of their location.
When remote work picked up during the pandemic, companies worldwide learned the importance of accessibility. Nowadays, many knowledge workers can do their job anywhere and aren’t confined to a specific location. Shouldn’t training be the same?
If you want to encourage employees to grow their skills and knowledge, make accessing courses and training models easy. Create virtual learning material online and offline so learners aren’t restricted by internet access. Your learning program should also be mobile-friendly (or mobile-first) so users can access employee training on their phone, computer, or tablet.
Tip: Connect each learner with a support team member from your learning and development team, so if they have trouble accessing a course or need to troubleshoot a technical issue, they have someone to turn to. This way, there are fewer barriers to them completing their training.
Making employee training accessible also requires creating shorter courses. Getting employees to make time for learning is the number one challenge for talent development. Breaking up longer training sessions into microlearning courses will enable remote learners to complete their training more efficiently.
Microlearning courses are short bursts of training focused on a specific subject. They should be as straightforward as possible while retaining the vital course material. These courses are typically between three to 10 minutes long.
As we mentioned above, collaborative learning has a time and place. But on a remote team, it’s not always possible to gather team members to collaborate, especially if they operate in different time zones. Design courses to be self-led and asynchronous so remote workers can complete their work independently.
You can also combine synchronous and asynchronous learning methods. For example, you could host a kick-off video call at the beginning of a course to incorporate social learning and networking elements into their learning experience. Then, have the learners complete the remainder of the course asynchronously. At the end of the course, you could bring the group back together for peer review.
Sixty-two percent of Gen Z employees prefer using mobile apps for workplace training, followed by online learning tools (48%), videos (39%), and social media (34%). At the bottom of the poll were books (1%), lectures (10%), and video conferencing (16%).
If you want to engage this quickly-growing segment of the workforce, use a mix of their preferred workplace training methods, such as:
Interactive tools: Incorporate polls, quizzes, and click-to-reveal interactions throughout your course material to encourage employee engagement.
Information sharing: Use a mix of high-quality videos, podcasts, and writing to communicate course material.
Gamification: Gamification involves using game-like elements in a learning environment. Think leaderboards, scores, role-playing simulations, timed challenges, and badges.
AMAs: Instead of a typical webinar or lecture, host an AMA (ask me anything) training session with executives, team leaders, or experts in the industry. Collect questions from employees beforehand and open the floor using a chat function so attendees can interact with the panelists.
Keeping learning and development top of mind for remote employees is one of the simplest ways to increase engagement. When new training opportunities or courses are released, announce them in a company-wide Slack message or team meeting, and focus on the incentives and outcomes the training provides. If a training course is especially helpful for a specific department or role, send a direct message to those who’d benefit from it.
If you’re working on a globally dispersed team, all of your employees should have equal access to the available rewards. If an employee has their eye on a reward but then finds out it’s not available in their country, it creates a negative employee experience and can deter them from continuing their learning journey.
For example, a gift card should be customized to the employee’s location or digital for online use. Double-check that you can ship the items to every employee’s country if you offer branded company products and swag as a reward.
Start by creating an online catalog that includes all available rewards for learning and development accomplishments. Make your catalog available to all employees and announce when you’ve added a new reward (on Slack or via email) to incentivize employees.
Rewards and incentives can include:
The reward an employee receives for completing their virtual training program makes more of an impact when the employee can select it themselves. Even if they choose a monetary reward, allowing them to select their desired reward is a better experience than assigning a reward to them.
A message from leadership can go a long way in promoting training and development in your remote team. Once a quarter, have a leader share a recent training accomplishment or key takeaway from a course on the learning platform forum, on Slack, or in a meeting. Leadership buy-in and public support will cement the idea that learning development is a crucial company value for all employees.
The number one driver of great work culture is having opportunities to learn and grow. The good news is that more companies are adopting a healthier culture of learning, with 64% of L&D professionals saying their company’s learning culture has grown in the past year.
To develop a culture of learning within your team, start with the basics. Your company website and employee handbook should mention your commitment to continuous learning and explain how you empower employees to develop their skills and knowledge. On social media, share when employees attend industry conferences and events so potential hires see that you’re actively investing in your employees’ growth.
Remember, learning and development are constant conversations, not annual tasks. Managers should have regular one-to-one meetings with their direct reports to discuss their learning goals, training progress, and career progression.
Allow your L&D team members to learn and develop, too. Schedule regular meetings to brainstorm new ideas, review feedback and data and collaborate to keep improving your team’s initiatives.
Employees are motivated to learn because they want to stay up-to-date in their field and get closer to their career goals. When you empower employees with skill-building opportunities, you can increase the retention of your top talent. In fact, 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development.
During employee onboarding and meetings with managers, employees should be taught how the courses they’re offered can help them progress in their careers. Customize an employee’s learning path to their role, department, or interests, and help them identify which courses can lead to a promotion, title change, or lateral move.
To promote continuous learning, create a digital library for your team members. This library should include all available training, resources, ebooks, and subscriptions to self-led learning platforms like Masterclass or Skillshare. Employees should be able to access the library throughout their life cycle to refresh their knowledge or learn something new.
Your virtual library could live in your learning management system (LMS) or an app like Notion. No matter where you host the library, ensure it’s easily accessible to everyone in the company.
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