Remote workers are very much becoming the norm in business globally. With the need to be ‘on’ 24 hours a day and the fact that cloud computing offers great possibilities, there’s never been a better time to embrace remote working. But how can you keep your remote workers happy, engaged and growing? Here are five steps that you can implement now.
Set out a clear direction
From the point at which someone accepts a role, you have the opportunity to immerse them in your culture, which is vital if they are working remotely. With a structured onboarding process your new starters can be guided to their first day with a learning path that’s tailored to their needs. In practice this means tweaking the content for remote workers or offering virtual as well as physical get togethers for example.
We’ve all heard about the ‘learning organisation’ but what does that really mean? To us it means that the organisation puts learning high on the agenda so it’s visible rather than hidden away in your dusty old LMS. Not just where traditional learning, such as formal training courses, is concerned but that the organisation lives and breathes learning at every point. Have you just finished a big project? Capture the lessons learned and share them with the team and the wider organisation. Has someone made a breakthrough with a large prospect? Interview them for 10 minutes and find out what they did and why it worked, then share it with the organisation.
Remote workers can easily feel detached from what is happening in your offices, so bringing learning to them in this way keeps the engagement up and helps them to feel valued and that they are making progress. Remote workers should also be encouraged to share their knowledge as much as possible. This helps them to become better known and will be of great value to other colleagues who work in that way.
Tie learning into business objectives
This applies to learning whether you have remote workers or not. Aligning your learning output with business objectives is imperative if you want the organisation to succeed. Every course that gets created should have a clear path back to a certain objective for the organisation. After all, if the organisation doesn’t succeed then everyone is out of a job.
Tying learning into business objectives not only makes sense from a business point of view, but it also means those objectives are more visible to the organisation and especially to remote workers. Depending upon how their line managers communicate with them, business objectives can easily get lost in the noise. Ultimately each person should be able to answer two questions. Firstly, ‘what am I doing here?’ and secondly, ‘how am I helping the organisation to succeed?’ People like to feel that their work is valuable and they are making a positive impact. The vast majority of disengaged people are like that because they have no sense of purpose nor understand why or how their contribution matters.
Tie learning into personal objectives
Whether you hold yearly personal reviews with objective setting or you monitor these more regularly, learning should feature heavily. You can set learning objectives to meet specific needs or use these more generally to promote learning as an everyday activity. Additionally you can also set people the objective of sharing their knowledge with others. Your learning ecosystem should allow people to make short videos or write blogs talking about their experiences. With the example we used earlier, one breakthrough moment for a salesperson could be shared and acted upon by others very quickly. This would have an immediate impact on the bottom line. Taking learning moments from people on the front line is impactful, makes that person feel valued and helps your remote workers to feel not so remote.
Use a blended approach
One of the main ways to keep remote workers feeling part of the organisation is to take a blended approach to delivering learning. We would always advise using blended learning wherever possible for all your people, but especially if you have people working remotely. Blended learning doesn’t have to be just a mix of online and face to face, it could be self-paced and virtual learning. For example if people have taken a self-paced eLearning course, then a virtual workshop session can be held to reinforce learning and allow people to ask questions and even try out their new skills. If you can get people together physically in the same room, then this will be more impactful and of value. We like the ‘learning then workshop’ approach as it allows people to practice with each other rather than in front of a client for the first time.
Monitor and ask for feedback
Monitoring learning through your LMS, LXP or whatever platform you use, is important to understand whether learning is having an impact. Additionally, looking at outputs is a valuable but more difficult to achieve method. If you’ve trained salespeople, then an upturn in revenue is an indication that behaviours have changed. With soft skills it’s harder to track of course.
Feedback is critical for all learning activities, but especially where remote workers are concerned. You don’t have the luxury of seeing them every day and being able to observe them put the learning into practice, so maintaining an open dialogue is important if you are to understand what works and what doesn’t.
With remote workers set to become more prevalent over the next few years, companies need to think now about how to engage and develop them in order to keep them and get the most out of them. Implementing our five steps is a great start on your journey.
Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss how we can help you to put learning in place for remote workers.
About Lawford Knight
Lawford Knight is a training company with expertise in eLearning, classroom and blended learning. We understand how to design, develop and deliver training programmes that achieve real behavioural change. If you’re ready to work with a company that really understands how training works, please get in contact to discuss your next training requirement.