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Adapting to the New Normal of Remote Work:
How to Upgrade Employee Skills
Through Remote Learning
There was a time that employees were just a means to getting the customer served. But today, this perspective has been turned on its head. Businessman Ari Weinzweig said, “If you don’t create a great, rewarding place for people to work, they won’t do great work.”
Respected thought leader on engaging employees, Sybil F. Stershic, added her perspective, “The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.”
Adding even more weight to the argument, British business magnate Sir Richard Branson said, “Put your staff first, your customers second, and your shareholders third.”
One important way that companies show their regard for their employees is providing them relevant training to handle their job responsibilities. In recent years, employee training has become critically important in workplaces. In fact, a new LinkedIn survey found that 94% of employees would stay in a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. Global advocate for excellence in performance management and business results, industrial engineer Gregory Balestrero said, “Employees cannot become more productive in every sense of the word unless they are provided with continuous on-the-job training.”
When the world was attacked by COVID-19 at the beginning of 2020, it resulted in a global economic shutdown from March onwards. In the second quarter of the year, both large corporations and fresh startups faced a dismal situation where employees were compelled to work from home and where businesses across the globe reduced operations. Remote working became the rallying cry of a global economy collapsing under a deadly virus that respected neither power nor wealth.
Remote working is not a new concept. As far back as 1985, mainstream media spoke about “the growing telecommuting movement.” In 1989, internationally acclaimed management guru, Peter Drucker, said, “commuting to office work is obsolete.”
Some years ago, companies did experiment with extensive remote work but found employees were taking advantage of not being restricted by an office environment. One employer said, “Every weekend became a three-day holiday. I found that people work so much better when they’re all in the same physical space.”
However, the pandemic in 2020 led to remote work becoming not just a pervasive reality, but an absolute necessity as Covid-19 forced businesses to change their modus operandi. What started as a mandatory requirement in many companies has turned remote working into an indefinite arrangement to curb the spread of the virus. With over 40 million people engaging in remote work, companies are learning how to optimize performance and well-being of employees. Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, says that 25-30% of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.
A recent survey of global HR decision-makers by the World Economic Forum, found that over 44% of the participants considered new technology that enables remote work, co-working space and teleconferencing, as the principal drivers of change.
Even though a lecture room environment is not viable with Covid-related restrictions on gatherings, the reality of the pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for a well-defined, remote strategic employee training plan. Moreover, business leaders have realized that training is an ongoing process, and are turning to trainers and leaders in the virtual experience like Hesk Digital.
Maximizing the opportunity to train employees
As employees are stuck within the confines of their homes, glued to their computer screens, they are eager to upgrade their skills. Studies show an 8,135% increase in visits to webpages with topics on remote learning, virtual instructor-led training (VILT), and leading through adversity and change. Also, remote work during the pandemic shows an 88% increase in traffic to articles on the advantages of eLearning.
Organizations will benefit by maximizing employee downtime, reassuring them of their value to the organization and by providing training to cope with the situation. Moreover, remote training is significantly more cost-effective and scalable than traditional face-to-face training for sales and soft skills. Added to this, employees during the pandemic show increasing interest in skills complementary to work skills, such as mindfulness, yoga and other soft skills.
Increasing Productivity and Focus
The proper training will empower employees, which will in turn help companies mitigate the negative effects of the lack of proximity of collaborating in an office environment. This is also a great opportunity to help employees develop new skill sets they might otherwise not discover.
Using Learning Technology to Avoid Webinar Burnout
Many businesses favor webinars and online PowerPoints for training employees at scale. However, app-based learning technologies and mobile training tools can help maximize engagement among remote workers.
With remote learning for workforce training likely to be around even when in-person training resumes, integrating newer technologies around existing tools to help improve learning and save costs, will be key for companies wanting to future-proof their workforce.
Reinforcing company culture through ongoing training
Even though all or most of your employees are not in an office environment, you still need to deliberately create and continuously reinforce a strong company culture that promote your values. Training and development programs for remotely working employees based on company values will keep the company culture uppermost in their minds as they steer the new normal.
Building future-forward solutions
Even though the pandemic has brought on immediate training needs for your employees, avoid categorizing them as “one-and-done solutions.” Rather, they should not only help you manage the current crisis, but also lead you to deliver learning strategies for employees to assimilate into the “new normal.” It is a time to take a fresh look at how you steer your business in the new normal, forging new partnerships and building lasting solutions.
As American business theorist, Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer, said, “The three qualities of a workplace that would develop people, would be information sharing, investing in the training of the workforce, and giving employees the ability to use their training and information to make decisions.”
About the Author
Craig Lebrau is the CMO of Media Insider, a Wyoming-based PR company that aims to disrupt the way companies communicate their brand in the digital era. If you have any questions, please reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.