With more organisations operating in remote and distributed environments, teams are at risk of feeling disengaged and disconnected. Learning and development (L&D) is a great way to foster employee engagement amongst your people because it can be used to build community and to get people actively involved in their personal and professional growth.
Many companies will find that L&D cultures and frameworks were built for a physical office environment but remote teams stand to benefit just as much from the engagement learning and development can bring. So, how do you shift learning and development into a remote function so that you can still reap the benefits?
Assuming you’ve already taken the crucial steps to build a learning culture, here are some ways you can foster L&D in remote and distributed teams:
Set a good example
Whether a founder, the CEO, head of L&D or People, you are an influencer. Not the influencer we’ve come to see on social media but an influencer of habits and standards. Showing can be more impactful than telling when it comes to building a learning culture in your company.
When workplace leaders prioritise their own learning and personal development at work they are setting a standard that their people can feel comfortable emulating in their own workdays. Their demonstration communicates permission and encouragement.
Of course, when working remotely, people won’t ‘see’ you learn the way they might in a physical space so when setting the example you need to be sharing learnings and making recommendations over communication channels like Slack. The CEO of Learnerbly, Rajeeb Dey MBE makes a point of sharing his 360 feedback with the entire team as well as where he would like to improve and develop over the coming months.
Build learning hours into the workweek and offer Learning Leave
L&D should be done during work hours because it directly relates to the skills and knowledge an individual can use to better their work and the work of the organisation. Home offices have meant that overworking is easier than ever and pushing learning into personal time more and more likely. To combat this and to make learning in working hours a reality, you should introduce learning hours that people schedule into their calendar the same they would a meeting.
Having Learning leave which does not get deducted from annual leave is important because it is not a day off, it is a day where someone is working to become better. This is best used when a learning opportunity will take longer than an hour or two such as with a full day workshop. Omnipresent encourages team members to focus on their learning and gives employees learning leave opportunities.
By introducing these, you’re taking another step to make learning a default and you’re communicating the importance of engaging in L&D. Learning hours can also make for great virtual co-working. It can be done with a co-worker who is reading the same book or because you simply want to have someone on screen with you idly chatting while engaging in a resource of your choosing.
Encourage mentorships within your organisation
Your colleagues have knowledge and experiences that you don’t and we can all stand to learn from each other, even if it’s how to make latte art. Mentorships within organisations can get people engaged with L&D and it can foster relationships and camaraderie between team members who have never met in person.
Introduce a discussion thread on Slack or your communication channel of choice where mentors and mentees can connect. Offer to be a mentor or ask to be a mentee to set the example and gather momentum.
Provide Personal Learning Budgets (PLBs)
Autonomy is the key to a thriving learning culture. Providing personal learning budgets is the truest form of autonomy you can give when it comes to learning and development. They allow freedom of choice and focus and they enable people to become self-managed learners.
For remote teams to work, there has to be trust between them. That extends to trusting your people to know what they want to learn and how they want to learn so that they benefit and grow from it. Telling them what to engage with and keeping strict control over what funds they can use prevents autonomy and growth.
When people have that freedom of choice and focus, they’re more likely to participate. With all of the offerings available for remote teams and remote learning through Learnerbly, where users are empowered with PLBs and curated resources, it’s easy to set budgets for each individual and to get them engaging with L&D.
Establish a community
Many of the points that precede this one have elements that work towards establishing a learning community, especially when a tool like Learnerbly is brought on board. The Learnerbly Slack integration makes learning transparent and the ability to recommend resources and leave reviews in the app helps spark learning across the team.
Having an L&D community will strengthen your teams by giving them something to engage with together. Within the Learnerbly team, there have been instances where various members have requested the same book, course or other resources. Due to our virtual community of learners, trends become apparent and often a request will fuel a flurry of the same or similar requests by others and can lead to book clubs and discussion.
L&D for the remote world doesn’t need to be complicated. Many of the practices one would instil in a physical learning and development environment transfer or adapt well to a virtual one. With the benefits and engagement that L&D can bring, there’s no reason not to foster L&D into your remote team.
This post is brought to you by Learnerbly.