It seems pretty certain that flexible or hybrid working will be a permanent change in many workplaces, and for employees and companies alike, this is a resoundingly positive and welcome shift. Employees spend less time and money commuting and can work comfortably in their own environment, while businesses are able to downsize offices and reduce their overheads drastically in addition to seeing a boost in productivity and the overall morale of their employees.
Of course, with such a dramatic change to the way businesses are now operating, there are kinks to be ironed out such as keeping teams aligned and focussed, ensuring the company culture remains healthy, and making sure staff are motivated and proactive with regards to their learning and development.
“Developing talent feels to many like an almost impossible task due in large part to the common misconception that formal and informal learning are best done when people are in the same room,” says Harvard Business Review, “but just because you did most of your learning in physical classrooms doesn’t mean that it was the only (or best) way for you to learn.”
HR and L&D managers are working hard to overcome the new challenges they’re being faced with as more and more employees work from home. Retaining staff, ensuring a healthy work environment, onboarding new talent remotely, and making sure staff are producing results whilst working from home are all that little bit trickier when the majority of staff aren’t in the office.
Inspiring team members to keep up to date with their L&D is also more of a hurdle than it once was, but that’s not to say it isn’t achievable. “It turns out that great learning is about great design — design that considers how human brains actually encode and embed information,” explains Harvard Business Review. “In fact, well-designed virtual learning has been shown to be as effective as in-person learning, and often more so.”
So, we know that our brains respond well to well-designed virtual learning, but when employees aren’t physically in the workplace, are they as good at taking the time to do the valuable L&D they need to excel in their roles? And if not, why not?
Keeping staff engaged and motivated about their development is vital
Instilling the value of learning into every employee within your organisation is crucial – once they know how seriously you take their development, they too will take it more seriously and it should become a big part of their daily routine whether they’re working in the office, at home, or from a sunny beach somewhere.
Here are some tips to ensure your team remain inspired about learning whilst working remotely:
Keep it social
Think about the last time you discovered something interesting and new. Did you keep the information to yourself? Or did you tell someone? Probably the latter, which is why a learning community is so important when it comes to keeping things exciting. Allow your staff to share what they’ve learned, recommend material to their peers, engage with the content and with each other and create their own culture of learning.
Keep it interesting and relevant
Our brains have to work a whole lot harder to consume and retain boring or irrelevant content. By giving your employees access to content subjects that they want to learn about, they will have a far higher chance of remembering what they learn, benefiting from it, and being able to their put that newly acquired information into practice.
Make it personal
Everyone consumes information differently. Some learners prefer to read, whilst others retain information much better if they listen to a podcast or watch a video. Allowing team members to choose how they learn and to create a learning environment with preferences that suit them puts them in the driving seat of their learning journey.
Let employees take control
Of course, you probably have some materials that staff are required to learn, but they don’t have to be limited to the mandatory. By allowing employees to influence what they want their development journey to look like, they’ll feel empowered and excited to achieve their learning goals.
Allow staff to share what they’ve learnt
Why not do a weekly or monthly ‘show and tell’ of newly acquired information or skills? We all like to show off our talents, especially ones we’ve recently worked hard to master, and giving your team the chance to talk about what they’ve been working on could boost their confidence and let other members of the company know that they can go to Katie for coding questions, or Pete for SEO advice.
Whether your staff work remotely, in the office, or do a little of both, their L&D journey should remain consistent. Using the tips above, reiterating the importance of learning, and discussing goals and objectives with staff should help to keep them focussed and on track. And of course, implementing a platform like thirst which your team will want to come back to time and time again will go a long way in keeping every single employee’s learning and development fresh and exciting.