Reducing your overhead costs and seeking talent from around the globe are advantages to having remote workers. Unfortunately, there are a few challenges you must work a bit harder to overcome, such as how to encourage a spirit of continuous learning with your work-at-home employees.
Most successful entrepreneurs understand highly skilled, well-trained staff can make the difference in how successful their brand is. Figuring out how to train a diverse set of workers across multiple locations isn’t quite as cut and dried.
How Do You Support Remote Employees?
A recent survey showed around 35% of Americans were offered full-time remote work since the pandemic began. Even though restrictions are fewer, most people got a taste of working from home and wanted to continue.
During a time when laborers are few and open positions ample, companies are looking for ways to keep their top employees happy. If you’re one of those business owners, or considering the option for your staff, ongoing learning doesn’t have to stop you from making the transition to a hybrid or fully remote work crew.
Here are the best ways to support ongoing learning with your remote employees.
1. Create an Encouraging Company Culture
Do your department heads and managers cheer your employees on? If someone wants to take a day off to attend a local workshop that in some way enhances their skills, what does the immediate point of contact say?
Unless you’re working on a time crunch or huge project, leaders should strive to give the person the time to enhance their skills.
2. Offer Digital Learning
Do most of your employees need to learn something new? For example, if your office implements a new software, you might need to train everyone en masse. Fortunately, online learning can be an excellent way to train them all with minimal effort.
Online e-learning courses are superior to in-person workshops for remote teams. You can set the lessons up once and let your staff complete them as makes sense for their schedule. You can share PowerPoint presentations, online simulations and upload quizzes.
3. Ask Them to Read
Ask your staff to read books you think will motivate, inspire or train them to be better team members. For example, you might read a book on productivity with a ton of tips for your remote crew. Set aside some hours in their work day to read the book a little at a time.
You could alternatively ask them to attend short meetings where you summarize what you’ve read in each chapter. Dispersing the information second-hand loses some of the power of the book, though, so it’s best if you can get them to read it themselves.
4. Set Up a Social Media Group
How connected do your employees feel to one another? Peers should learn from each other if the environment is conducive to sharing. You can set up a private group on social media, create a board on a site such as Mango, or have a backend chat room on your website.
Ideally, your workers will use the space to get to know each other and spend some of their free time. If they have a problem they can’t solve, as long as the details don’t fall under non-disclosure agreements, they should ask for help from their pool of co-workers. Someone may know of a tool to help them get through a challenging assignment.
Although there seems to be less conflict between remote workers, personalities can still clash at times. Make sure a manager always moderates whatever groups you set up. Insults, personal or racial slurs and threats should never be tolerated.
5. Host Live Events
Since remote work has increased dramatically since early 2020, many brands find sharing company news and capsulizing important data can be delivered via a live event. Meeting options, such as Zoom, Google Meet and others allow everyone to see a face behind the name.
You can keep your employees connected and in the know simply by having a monthly or quarterly meeting with everyone on the team present. If you have a large workforce, you may need to split the teams into smaller groups to remain effective. Set things up in the way that makes the most sense for your brand’s needs.
6. Share Learning Resources
In the course of remote work, employees typically seek tools to help them become more efficient and better at their jobs. Ask them to share any particularly helpful things they come across. You can set up a place where they can submit ideas and an administrator must approve.
Try to keep the resources on professional things. An app that lets workers listen to music and tune out the world while working might be helpful, but a dance video on how to perform the latest hip hop moves isn’t unless your team is working on a project involving hip hop.
7. Set Up Mentors
In a traditional work environment, new employees are typically matched with someone more experienced. They learn the ropes from their co-workers and knowledge that can’t always be learned from a book.
Remote workers also benefit from a buddy they can turn to when they aren’t sure about company policy or where to find details in the employee handbook. A mentor can also save management a lot of time because you won’t answer basic questions.
Train your mentors to share the inside tips they’ve learned to make their jobs better. Offer them perks and bonuses for helping their co-workers.
Ask How You Can Help
Talk to your employees regularly about how you can best help them achieve their goals as remote workers. Hold at least a quarterly meeting with each one to see where they might be struggling and point them to resources. You can also praise their strengths while giving them additional training to shore up any weaknesses. A company with an ongoing learning goal will fix small things over time so nothing becomes a big problem that impacts the person’s work.
Eleanor is editor of Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.