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How to improve remote workforce development

Remote working is here to stay, let's embrace it. Some tips on how to conduct workforce development remotely.

16th October 2023

How to improve remote workforce development
Providing opportunities for learning and growth is crucial for team members. However, facilitating these can be a daunting task, particularly when dealing with a partially or fully remote workforce. 

Although remote working has been fairly widely known for decades improvements in technology (in particular cloud services such as Zoom, Teams, Slack, Salesforce, Hubspot etc) and the COVID-19 pandemic have made remote working widespread. Organisations must now consider online training to engage a remote workforce. 

But where do you start?

Embrace a culture of remote working
Culture can make or break businesses.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

For decades we've accepted this and so many organisations strive to create a healthy onsite culture. In 2024 we must now consider how we extend this into the digital space. And ideally that culture is consistent across in-person work and remote working.

Consider the tools and services you're using. Do they integrate nicely together? Do they make a team member's job easier, or (as an example of a common complaint) are they making the job easier for your IT function? Are these tools available on the devices your staff have - for example does your video conferencing solution have a nice mobile app?

While organisation culture is imprinted on team members from day one, each touch point they have with an organisation helps to reinforce this. Consider this with the tools you're using for your work.

Build in networking time
The "water cooler moment" is a powerful way for teams to communicate in an informal settings. Yeah conversation might spill over into the football match at the weekend or what's happening on the latest HBO must watch but amongst the chatter is impactful and important communication about personal lives and work.

So what does that look like online?

There's no silver bullet for providing good remote networking but some suggestions you can try in your organisation include:

  • Dedicated social spaces in Slack/Teams/other communication tool. Make a channel(s) with the sole intent of off topic conversation, let people talk about TV shows or ask for recipe ideas.
  • Create regular socials. Set weekly or monthly blocks of time that happen on a regular basis for drop in networking. It could be every second Friday at 10am or last Monday of the month at 4pm but set the time in the diary and encourage staff to participant (without making it mandatory).
  • Internal newsletter. In the office you probably have a notice board or at least could stick a poster up. When the team is remote we can use the tools we use already to communicate externally to communicate internally. An internal newsletter (you can use something like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor) can make it really easy to share news across your team and get stats on deliverability, open rates and click through rates.
  • Memes, gifs and graphics. Again applying techniques used externally for marketing we can use good graphic design, memes and gifs to get messages across a team. Check out tools like Imgflip or Canva to create content quickly and easily.

Everyone gets involved
We've read worrying trends of remote work only being for some employees. Both up and down a management triangle, for example VP and above must be in the office full time or remote work is not allowed for juniors.

This can't happen.

In regards to remote working all employees must be treated equally. That sort of imbalance will decimate all the good work we've done to create a culture that embraces remote working.

Everyone should be offered the same opportunity to work in an environment that makes them most productive. Yes there's a two way street and staff should accept there will still be a requirement for in person working either through occasional office days or company offsites.

Moving your training online
We're hardly impartial but give us a minute. While implementing a remote workforce development strategy may be hard work it will benefit your company in the long term. 

Virtual training provides flexibility and ensures all employees (regardless of location and mobility) are able to participate. It allows us to engage all staff to ensure they are learning new information as necessary. How can we do that? Well lets think of the tools at our disposal:

  • People or learning management: as an organisation have we invested in an HR platform? This will allow some degree of tracking progress/attainment. We can also use learning management platforms to plot out our development strategy and track progress of teams through our materials and workshops
  • Content for the web. Create material with a web first approach. If we're recording video lets think about how we distribute it. If we want to do a slide deck make sure its readable on a browser. Don't just shove 'content' in to a Word document or Powerpoint deck.
  • Remote communication. Using tools such as Teams, Zoom, Slack, Tuple, Whereby etc we can bring people together for collaborative learning
  • Team activities. This is where Experiential Learning Tools has a role to play. We have a range of activities (which are mapped to a range of outcomes) that are perfectly suited to remote learning and development. 

Remote work is becoming more common, it is being demanded by the workforce. It removes the time and monetary cost of communting and gives flexibility to families and those with additional needs. Remote working is here to stay, let's embrace it.

Michael Hayes @experientialLT

Head of Product at Experiential Learning Tools

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