With all that’s going on, it’s tempting for companies to put off learning and development (L&D) until after things “go back to normal.” But no one knows when that will be. And businesses are bracing for months, if not years, of changes to come as the economy and society heal from the impact of COVID-19.
Now isn’t the time for L&D to hunker down and wait out the storm. It’s time to invest in employee development so that they can emerge stronger and help drive business growth during these unpredictable times.
Remote workplace learning will be in higher demand post COVID-19
Working remotely isn’t as huge a swing from normal as it may seem; it was how many people were already working pre-COVID-19. Before everyone had to shelter-in-place, up to 74% of managers already had employees working a significant portion of their time remotely.
And it’s predicted that many will continue working offsite after office doors reopen. Some companies will cut costs by shrinking workspaces, and employees are discovering they prefer working from home. Early signs include Nationwide’s announcement that it will change over to a hybrid model where some people permanently work remotely. Other companies show they may not be far behind, such as when the CEO at Mondelez said the crisis demonstrated the company does not need all of its global offices.
Based on pre-pandemic workforce trends and current indications, remote is a normal day at work. This is why if you don’t have a remote learning and development strategy in place, you may not be providing your entire workforce with the support they need to navigate current challenges and the disruption that lies ahead.
However, a remote strategy takes more than simply adding a few on-demand courses and sending out links to content. An effective strategy must be designed to overcome the unique learning challenges of remote teams.
Common learning and development challenges of remote teams
Working from different locations and often in isolation, remote and hybrid teams may face these L&D challenges:
- Gaps in remote work skills. Lack of skills in relation to leading and working with remote teams. This includes: effectively communicating in a virtual environment, video meeting etiquette, and utilizing collaboration tools.
- Isolated learning. Team members are seeking information and learning independently. There’s no guideline for what tools, resources, or advice to seek. And no consistent process for applying what they learn.
- Unequal L&D opportunities. Remote team members may not be able to attend all in-person trainings and if the company doesn’t have the right virtual training technology, remote team members may receive lower-quality experiences than their onsite counterparts.
- Unbalanced learning environment. Utilizing the right technology and best practices to deliver content so that everyone can benefit from the learning, no matter what their learning style or familiarity with remote work.
Knowing what challenges to overcome can improve the impact of your offerings because you’ll be able to ensure offsite team members engage with the training, absorb the content, and are practicing their learnings.
While technology plays an important role in a remote L&D program’s success, an equally significant portion rests in the people within the core team and those leading each remote team.
You’ll find details about that and tips on what to avoid in the upcoming second part of our remote L&D strategy series: 7 Considerations When Building Learning Opportunities for Remote Teams.
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