Remote Workers Need New Learning and Development Options

A tight labor market and rapid technology advances are contributing to widening workplace skills gaps. An astonishing 87 percent of companies worldwide say they currently have skills gaps or expect to have them within a few years, according to new research from McKinsey & Company.

Employee Education and Remote Learning

Such gaps make employee education and talent development programs more critical than ever. However, last year’s mass transition to remote work has stymied many workplace learning efforts. Distancing requirements effectively halted in-person programs last year, and remote learning efforts were inconsistent at best. Nearly half of U.S. workers report they did not take part in any remote training programs in 2020, according to a survey by the Clutch market research firm.

Even though pandemic restrictions are being lifted, companies must make developing an effective remote learning program a top priority. Many are transitioning to a hybrid workplace model that will allow employees to split time between home and the office. As such, they also need a hybrid training strategy that helps employee acquire new skills from either location.

Keep Education Programs Interesting

A remote education program is only effective if the subject matter is relevant and engaging. A Harvard Business survey finds that nearly half of employees are dissatisfied with their employer’s learning and development programs, often due to subject matter that is either too generic or lacks context. Another complaint is that webinars, videos and other presentation methods are often too long and monotonous.

Effective programs should be built around well-defined subject matter that addresses real-world scenarios rather than hypothetical situations. Because all of us have different learning styles, programs should offer a variety of presentation methods including webinars, video tutorials, instructor-led demonstrations and interactive activities.

Gamification is another great way to make training fun and interesting. For example, you can make security awareness training a game by allowing employees to compete against each other for points and small rewards as they learn how to spot the telltale signs of a cyberattack.

Incorporate Peer-to-Peer Learning

Peer-to-peer training is another effective approach. Employees who need help with new applications, processes or technologies will typically ask a coworker or colleague for help before wading through videos, training manuals or technical documents. A P2P program simply creates a formal structure for the practice.

Setting up a P2P course can require little more than an Internet connection. Coworkers can simply establish a restricted group page on the social media platform of their choice to demonstrate a new app, technique or process. Many free sandboxing programs can be used to set up test environments where employees can experiment with applications without fear of introducing malware or viruses into the network.

Employee engagement software helps organizations solicit and track feedback from their employees, but it can also be a valuable remote learning tool. These solutions can be used to deliver remote learning programs, career advancement opportunities and management training.

Build Education Programs on a UC Foundation

A solid unified communications (UC) platform facilitates remote learning by providing the robust communication and collaboration tools. UC allows employers and employees interact with each other through voice, video, instant messaging and desktop sharing.

UC solutions also enable easy integration with learning management system (LMS) software that creates a central, integrated space for storing, delivering and tracking training content. An LMS can house files, documents, videos, links and more, giving employees the choice of the learning materials they prefer. The ready availability of these materials mean employees can begin and complete training courses at their own pace.

Over the next decade, continued rapid advances in technology will require ongoing skills development. Workplace learning and professional development programs will be critical for keeping employees engaged and satisfied with their work and for helping companies attract and retain top talent.