The traditional workplace has changed and more teams are working from home. There are advantages to collaborating remotely, such as better work-life balance, independent thinking, and lower overhead.
But working remotely isn’t without its challenges.
Some employers have found their team members aren’t getting enough learning opportunities now that they aren’t in the office. Without face-to-face contact, employees can miss out on important training and skills development.
With a little creativity, you can still challenge and motivate your employees even when your team works from home. There are many ways to encourage a learner’s mindset and support your remote employees as they embrace opportunities for growth.
Upskill your employees with online courses
When your team upskills, it can benefit your business in many ways. Not only do you end up with a well-trained, more agile workforce, but plenty of evidence suggests that the chance to upskill is an important part of a positive employee experience.
If you want to encourage a learner’s mindset and motivate your team to upskill, consider offering quality online courses.
The courses you offer should be relevant to your niche. For example, finance, marketing, or business courses may give your employees the skills they need to get a promotion. If you work in a creative industry, they may enjoy studying graphic design or web design.
Employees who are interested in improving their language skills may benefit from help in this area. You can invest in online courses for languages commonly spoken in your area or in areas where you do business. Having a multilingual team is a benefit in any industry.
There may be other courses that are relevant to your company, too. For example, your team may need specific occupational health and safety training or refresher courses in their area of expertise.
Online courses can be short or long-term. Some colleges even offer degrees with remote study options. Regardless of which courses you choose, giving your people opportunities to learn and grow is always worth the investment.
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Create a culture of learning
Think about the culture of your remote workplace. Is it an environment that celebrates growth?
The culture of a company starts at the top. This means management should lead by example. If leaders are taking opportunities to learn new skills, employees might be encouraged to do the same. Are you taking time out to research industry trends and bring that knowledge back to your team?
Consider whether you’re making it easy for your team to upskill. Does your company celebrate innovation and ideas?
You can even create internal company resources for your remote team. For example, create guides, make training videos, and develop questionnaires that help your team learn.
Take this a step further and set learning challenges for employees to meet, as individuals or as a team.
Remember, when your team is motivated to learn, it’ll be good for your business. A knowledgeable staff will be happier, more efficient, and less likely to make mistakes.
Curate a list of free online resources
Remote employees have the internet at their fingertips. While it’s important to invest in resources, there are also plenty of quality online learning opportunities that won’t cost you or your employees a dime.
Why not take advantage of the digital world and curate a list of free educational resources for your team?
As your employees take advantage of these resources, further encourage a learner’s mindset by pointing them toward free user-generated study materials on a platform like StuDocu to help them stay up-to-date and understand topics better.
Have an open door
You may think it’s easier to do things yourself, but your team members can help reduce your workload with the right training.
If you want to promote learning, ensure your team feels comfortable asking questions.
But how can you be a mentor in a virtual workplace? You’ll need to make use of communication tools. There are a whole slew of options, depending on your needs.
For example, you could set up a Slack channel dedicated entirely to asking questions and getting advice from teammates and leadership. You can advertise virtual office hours during which you’re available for anyone to pop into a Zoom room and chat.
If open office hours aren’t your cup of tea, use a scheduling app like Calendly so team members can book dedicated video conference time with you.
The bottom line: employees should know who they can go to if they have questions. You can create a contact sheet for new team members so they understand who they can ask and when.
Working and learning online is a good option for many people, but too much screen time can cause fatigue. When your team feels worn out, it affects their ability to learn. It can also have an impact on their workplace productivity.
The health and wellbeing of your team members is vital. You can support them by encouraging downtime. Try skipping the Friday meeting, giving them a wellness day each month, or planning an extra-long lunch break. You could even encourage them to work outdoors.
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When your team isn’t up against a deadline, give them opportunities for downtime by encouraging them to read and learn new skills offline during the workday.
Reading has many benefits we sometimes forget about in our digital-focused world. Reading regularly improves vocabulary. Books are a good distraction from the screen and can help recharge your team.
Book summary apps let your employees get an idea of what a book will be about before they make a purchase. There are different apps to choose from, including Blinkist and ShortForm.
For a small effort, you can help your employees rediscover the joy of reading. Whether it’s a juicy novel, a riveting autobiography, or an academic textbook, it doesn’t matter. Any reading is beneficial.
Another option is to give employees access to health and fitness memberships or travel discounts. These resources will help your team enjoy their downtime and come back ready to work and learn.
If you want to encourage a learner’s mindset for your remote team, consider giving them an incentive. Rewarding your employees may give them the motivation they need to show extra initiative.
When it comes to recognition, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they received more praise for their efforts.
Just because your workplace is virtual doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate achievements. For example, have an employee of the month program. One of the criteria could be to learn something new or to complete a project. Recipients of this award could get a certificate, gifts, or a monetary bonus.
If an employee has an achievement, share it with other members of the team through a short recognition video. If it’s a big milestone like a university degree or leadership training, you can send them a gift. It could be a virtual gift voucher or a personalized card and gift in the mail.
There are other ways that you can reward your employees as well. For example, you can split your remote team into small groups and set a KPI (key performance indicator) challenge. Monitor progress each quarter on a tally board. At the end of the quarter, host a virtual awards party.
When your team members are recognized for their successes, they’ll feel valued and supported. It will also create a positive team environment and improve retention rates.
Give your employees more responsibilities
A mistake some managers make is to micromanage remote teams. If you want to promote learning, you’ll have to trust your employees to take on new tasks.
With a “can-do” attitude and the right training and tools, your team members could be given extra responsibilities.
For example, a virtual assistant could learn to input sales data into your accounting system. Or a social media manager might be given the opportunity to take photographs.
If you’re prepared to give your employees more responsibilities, there may be a learning curve. Remember to be patient and offer support as they practice their new skills. They may need extra supervision until they gain the confidence to work independently.
Your team members might be more motivated to learn if they know there’s potential for a long-term future with your company. When you promote from within, existing team members will be motivated to go above and beyond.
Retaining current employees and making them part of the company’s long-term vision is beneficial for both you and your team.
Invite your team to coaching sessions
If you want to motivate and train your remote team members, consider hosting online coaching sessions. These sessions can be one-on-one or in small groups and on any topic.
For example, the coach could give the team strategies to improve their processes or run a crash course to prepare them for new challenges. The coach might even give your team “homework” and ask them to report back with their progress.
In addition to personalized coaching sessions, offer virtual tutorials. You may have a new program you want your team to master or a customer service tool to make communication more consistent.
You can then use your team’s regular video conferencing software for the coaching sessions. Tutorials could be live or prerecorded. House your tutorials in a video library that HR and leadership can use to onboard new employees, or that existing employees can access on demand.
Your coaching team could be made up of existing senior employees or you could outsource to an educational organization specializing in guided coaching.
Set up learning groups
Your team members will have different levels of experience and skill.
Consider putting your teams into small groups, pairing new employees with those who have more experience. Before you create groups, think about how personality types, skill sets, and experience will work together.
Once you’ve created groups, tasks can be assigned to each member of the team so that ideas can be shared. When you allocate tasks, everyone will do their part and the workload will be spread more evenly.
When your team members collaborate, they create natural opportunities for learning. They will gain knowledge from each other and may even discover more efficient ways of doing things. Collaboration can save time and improve the overall quality of work.
The learning groups can meet virtually at regular intervals to discuss their progress.
A one-on-one mentoring program is a variation on this that works well for many remote companies. During onboarding, employees are allocated a senior member of the team to act as their mentor. If they have questions or need advice, they can contact their mentor directly.
Schedule group training sessions
Some people learn better when they have others to study with. Encourage a learner’s mindset by scheduling online group training sessions.
If you want your team to learn something new or build on existing skills, why not schedule a time when they can do it together?
A virtual classroom can be an interactive space where your team watches presentations and answers questions. Their trainers may assign worksheets and other homework. At the end of the program, your team might even gain additional qualifications.
Many annual certifications, like first aid and workplace safety, can be completed online. These are ideal for remote group training.
Short online training sessions to expand your business are another great troup training option. For example, you can give group training in new processes or customer service methods. Or you can train them to create more captivating content.
When you schedule online group training sessions, your team members will be accountable to one another. They’ll be more likely to participate when their peers are in attendance. And if they want to discuss any concepts, they’ll have other people to talk to.
Allocate dedicated learning time
The workweek is busy. Asking your remote team to take on more in the same amount of time can be counterproductive. They’ll feel overwhelmed by the extra workload, and their day-to-day duties might suffer.
If you want your team to study and upskill for the benefit of your business, you’ll need to give them time to do it.
For short training sessions, your team members will only need temporary periods of time to complete their learning. But if you want your employees to study longer courses or degrees, consider allocating learning time.
For example, if they’re studying part-time, they may ask for a day off each week to help them maintain their grades.
If your employees are studying in their own time, try to be supportive. Two options worth considering are flexible work arrangements and time off for exams.Remember, if you want to encourage a learner’s mindset, you should be prepared to support your team’s long-term goals.
Sharpen your learning resources with video
Without face-to-face contact, motivating your team to learn can be a challenge. But there are many strategies you can use to encourage a learner’s mindset in a remote work environment.
Whether you’re creating your own internal trainings or recognizing employees who display a learner’s mindset, use video to sharpen all of your learning resources.
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Bethany, Digital Marketer
Bethany is a former HR Officer who later found her specialty in digital marketing. With a keen interest in content optimization and market behavior, she’s become a walking database for industry news.