The New Normal: Connecting with The Remote Workforce
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While 60% of surveyed L&D professionals expected to implement a virtual training strategy before COVID-19, remote work has drastically enhanced the speed of implementation for most organizations. Excitingly, this experience is recontextualizing learning and knowledge-sharing in unparalleled ways.
Both within our organization and organizations we partner with, the amount of sharing, listening, mentoring, and — above all — helping has been unmatched. Whether out of necessity or preference, remote working has become the great unifier, affording leaders and employees for many organizations to “sit in the same seat,” and it is profoundly driving a culture of empathy.
In 2019, 72% of CEOs said that the state of empathy needs to evolve and 58% of CEOs struggled with consistently exhibiting empathy in the workplace. Now, 93% recognize they should be doing more to address employees’ needs and 73% of employees say that empathy can be learned (the largest percentage to that response ever!). Furthermore, a recent State of Workplace Empathy Study revealed that over 90% of CEOs recognize empathy as the key to success.
This perspective-shifting has opened the possibility for transparent dialogue between employees and leaders in new ways, revealing issues and opportunities that may otherwise have remained hidden.
Organizations that harness this change could not only empower employees to advocate for their development needs, but also reap lasting benefits. HBR reports that empathic workplaces tend to enjoy stronger collaboration, less stress, and greater morale, and their employees bounce back more quickly from difficult moments.
In an office setting, teams often share quick learnings and exchange advice in passing. While this can increase knowledge and enhance productivity for a focused group, organizations historically have struggled to leverage tacit knowledge for the benefit of the larger group. And with the “new normal” of distributed teams, there is a further risk of siloed information and scattered knowledge.
Excitingly, virtual remote work has the power to significantly enhance the sense of global cooperation among teams, increase the visibility of information across organizations, and accelerate the pace of idea transformation. The differentiating factor is that leaders need to cultivate a culture of learning and knowledge-sharing and improve the flow of information.
There has been a 400% increase in the use of collaboration software since the beginning of the pandemic (TrustRadius); compared to 2019, when only 13% of remote workers used collaboration software (staples workplace survey).
Consider bringing your collective knowledge into one searchable platform so that employees have everything they need to do their job well and are recognized and rewarded for participating. LinkedInLearning's 2020 survey revealed that learners would spend more time learning if it was recognized by their manager (44% of GenZ, 36% of millennials).
Having a central tool for teams, both enhances the accessibility of information and reduces the time employees spend searching for it.
Organizations are transferring years of in-person training programs to virtual training. According to the 2020 State of the Industry survey, 81% of learning leaders plan to adopt new training techniques, 70% say their blend of training delivery methods will change, 73% plan to develop more custom content, and 52% of learning leaders anticipate eLearning delivery as their top area of spending for L&D technology.
Shifting classroom-based training to virtual is more than simply replicating classroom training online. The key to successfully transitioning to a virtual training program requires teams to recontextualize their content to meet learners’ needs. You should include different modalities, videos, interactions, ways to display learning content, job-aids, infographics, and quizzes. Don’t forget to consider converting training into numerous short, microlearning courses to improve engagement and retention.
Most importantly, talk to your employees, learn what their needs are and what tools would enable them to do their jobs better. L&D teams have the unique opportunity to leverage the best of what we are learning in this virtual world to fuel growth as we move forward.