As more and more companies embrace remote work, remote staff development has become an essential consideration. The shift to remote work has created a unique set of challenges for organizations to develop employee learning and development programs that enable their remote workers to excel. This article will explore why remote staff development matters, the strategies organizations can use to make it happen, some of the best practices for remote staff development, and examples of remote staff development programs.
Why Remote Staff Development Matters
Improved Employee Retention
The first reason why remote staff development matters is that it can help to improve employee retention. When companies invest in the growth and development of their remote staff, it shows that they are valued, and their employer is invested in their growth. Research has shown that employees become more committed to their employers when they know their employer is invested in their growth and development. The same holds for remote workers. When companies offer remote workers continuous opportunities for growth, remote workers tend to stay loyal to the company and increase productivity, which can significantly reduce employee turnover.
Employee turnover can be costly for companies, not only in terms of time and expense to replace an employee, but also the impact it can have on morale and productivity. Investing in staff development can help create a sense of engagement and purpose amongst remote workers, which is key to improving overall employee satisfaction and retention.
Increased Competency Development
Another reason why remote staff development matters is that it can lead to increased competency development. Competency, in this case, refers to specific knowledge and skills required to perform a particular job or task. By providing remote staff with robust learning and development opportunities, companies can help ensure that their remote employees have adequate training and knowledge to handle their roles effectively.
Developing an employee’s competence also positively impacts their confidence, which leads to increased performance and improved quality of work. The result is improved productivity levels across the board, and a more proactively engaged workforce—all of which can strengthen a company’s competitive advantage in the market.
Improved Job Performance
Remote staff development matters because it can lead to improved job performance. When companies provide remote workers with opportunities to learn and upskill, such workers can better perform on the job. This directly impacts their productivity levels and the overall quality of work they produce.
Providing different development opportunities to remote staff can also inspire innovation and creativity in the workplace. With more skills and knowledge, remote workers can bring new ideas and ways of doing things to the company which can improve overall outputs and make a positive impact on the business performance.
Keeping up with Technology
The digital age has ushered in a rapid pace of change, and it can be difficult for companies to keep up with new technologies. Regular learning and development opportunities can help employees stay up-to-date and abreast of new software, devices, and platforms, which can help keep the business competitive in the ever-changing marketplace.
Participating in remote staff development programs can also offer the company fresh insights on trends, ideas, and innovations in the industry that remote workers may have been exposed to, but which the company wasn’t aware of. Therefore, the effective use of technology by remote staff, can help companies tap into new ideas, emerging trends, and other potential business opportunities
Remote staff development can lead to increased diversity in the workplace. Since remote workers can be hired from anywhere in the world, companies can gain a wider range of experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives, which can contribute to better decision-making and problem-solving.
Remote workers can add value thanks to diverse language skills and cultural knowledge, which can improve global collaboration and knowledge sharing. Additionally, such opportunities offer insights into different ways of doing things, encouraging creative problem-solving, and more globalized business strategies.
Strategies for Making Remote Staff Development Happen
Here are five strategies companies can use to make remote staff development happen:
Create a Culture of Learning
Companies need to foster a culture of learning that encourages employees to seek out and participate in remote staff development opportunities. This can be achieved by establishing open communication channels between team leaders and their remote workers, providing leadership support, offering incentives to employees to participate in remote staff development programs, and creating an environment that encourages continuous learning and development.
A culture of learning ensures that remote workers know that there is a commitment from the company to improving their knowledge, skills, and the opportunities that are available for career growth. This fosters a mindset of constant personal and career development, which is essential for employees to stay engaged, productive, and valuable to the company.
Offer Individualized Development Plans
To ensure their remote employees reach their full potential and maximize their performance on the job, companies should offer individual development plans. These plans should be customized to meet the specific needs of each employee, factoring in individual learning styles, current skill level, job role and responsibilities, and future aspirations.
By providing individualized development plans, remote workers can remove potential obstacles to their personal and professional development; this way, they will know that their development is taken seriously, within the context of the company needs. Also, they are more likely to see a path for growth opportunities based on their specific skills and knowledge gaps, paving the way for more consistent and targeted future development.
Use the Right Delivery Methods
Remote staff development programs can take a variety of forms, including online courses, e-learning modules, and live webinars. To ensure a program’s success, companies should choose a delivery method that best suits their employees’ needs, schedules, and learning styles, providing employees with options that meet various needs or requirements.
For example, for remote employees who prefer self-paced learning, asynchronous courses can be utilized while others may prefer live, face-to-face sessions or regular discussions with other remote workers. Therefore, utilizing the appropriate mode of delivery to accommodate varying learning methods and working around different schedules can positively impact employees’ engagement with development opportunities.
Use Technology to Support Learning
Technology can play a vital role in supporting remote staff development programs. Online learning platforms, collaboration tools, and video conferencing software can all help employees learn and connect with one another, no matter where they are located, facilitating the sharing of knowledge and peer-to-peer learning.
One advantage of remote staff development is that technology provides numerous avenues for how employees access information, from virtual conferences, webcasts, e-learning platforms to podcasts, and many others. The sophistication of technology makes access to remote staff development opportunities manageable and efficient.
Provide In-Person Opportunities
While remote work has become the norm for many companies, in-person training and developmental opportunities can still be of immense value. By offering in-person workshops or conferences, companies can provide remote workers with the chance to connect face-to-face, network, and learn in a collaborative environment; the human-to-human interaction played out in such situations can lead to new levels of growth and development.
In-person opportunities provide remote workers with the chance to have real-time conversations that help build networks and stronger relationships with colleagues. Such opportunities can also help establish a stronger company culture while improving the remote employees’ sense of inclusion and belonging.
Best Practices for Remote Staff Development
With the above strategies in mind, here are some best practices that companies can use to make their remote staff development programs a success.
Encourage collaboration and interaction among remote employees
One of the major concerns of remote work is that employees can become isolated from one another. To counter this problem, organizations must ensure that remote workers have an opportunity to come together regularly. The use of virtual whiteboards, chat groups, gamified learning, social networks, and other collaboration tools can all facilitate this process.
Providing different virtual spaces where remote workers can brainstorm and share ideas can tremendously boost their engagement and connection with work. This presents opportunities to learn from coworkers in other locations who have different skill sets, backgrounds, and experiences.
Ensure accessibility and flexibility in scheduling
Remote workers may be spread across various time zones, which can lead to scheduling challenges. It is essential to consider these challenges and provide schedules that work for everyone, whether they’re located in different parts of the world, country or state. Providing flexible schedules and access to learning materials can help ease employee work-life balance and maximize their time for developmental programs.
The flexibility in scheduling and access subsequently increases the retention rates of remote workers because they can balance learning and development needs with their other work responsibilities. Such compromises lead to positive outcomes for remote workers because they get more control over their professional and non-professional lives, which can make them more content and fulfilled.
Keep the content relevant and up-to-date
To ensure that remote staff development programs remain effective, it’s essential to keep content relevant and up-to-date regularly. As technology advances quickly, it’s essential to evaluate what new skills, programs, and knowledge are necessary for remote workers to acquire to stay up-to-date in the given industry. Employers can take advantage of modules delivered by suppliers who are experts in the industry or by providing digital content on an ongoing basis that can help develop employees’ ability to put new knowledge and skills to use.
: Relevant and up-to-date content will increase employee engagement, reduce skill gaps, and make them more effective within their roles. By keeping up with new and relevant development trends, employers can remain competitive while retaining highly productive remote workers in the long term.
Provide access to a hub or portal with all learning materials
It’s crucial to make sure all learning and development material is put into a single, easy-to-access hub or platform. By doing this, remote employees can access materials from any location, which can help ensure they can participate in their own time and derive maximum benefit from their development.
Centralized digital libraries for access to the latest development materials, case studies, podcasts, and whitepapers are crucial in supporting remote worker development growth. As this central access point is continually updated with new development resources, remote workers can continue to learn and contribute value to their work wherever they are in the world.
Measure the effectiveness of remote staff development programs
Measurement is essential in any developmental program. Metrics and analytics, feedback/recall surveys for the development efforts, and ROI calculations can help companies track how remote staff development programs are impacting the organization’s performance, employee engagement, and productivity. This data can be useful in making decisions that drive improvements to future programs.
Measurement and analytics can also help identify potential skill gaps or market trends that are not currently being addressed—in turn, making it possible to develop new developmental programs in response. By monitoring such trends, employers can help shape their remote staff development programs to maximize their impact on employees and the overall company strategy.
Examples of Remote Staff Development Programs
Hubspot Academy provides a range of free online courses covering various inbound Marketing, sales and customer service. This program was established in 2012 and includes upskilling and certification tracks for remote workers’ development.
Their online program offers video production values that make learning interactive, and quizzes that evaluate learner progress. Users can choose to engage with different programs that are specific to their role and interests.
General Assembly delivers engaging online courses, workshops, and boot camps for individuals interested in digital skills or different fields. Their curriculums are designed to be flexible and provide comprehensive results in a short time. The General Assembly upskilling courses include forward-thinking topics such as data analysis, web development, and UX design.
General Assembly adds an element of social to their program by giving learners access to their online community, which offers opportunities for group activities, mentorship, and alumni networks.
LinkedIn Learning offers online software training and creative courses, including mentorship and skill development plans tailor-made for each learner. LinkedIn Learning already has 16,000+ courses, ranging from web and UI/UX design, programming and development, to business and marketing, and creative topics.
With over 700 expert instructors, LinkedIn Learning offers organizations thousands of courses that range in delivery method, length, and level, ensuring employees find a learning mode that suits them.
Remote staff development matters because it can lead to improved employee retention, better job performance, competency development, keeping up with technology trends, and promoting diversity. The strategies to make remote staff development happen involve creating a culture of learning, offering individualized development plans, using the right delivery methods, providing ample in-person opportunities, and utilizing technology to support learning. Companies that provide remote staff development programs can benefit from a diverse, skilled workforce, which can result in many benefits for the business’s success in the long term.
Every remote staff development program must be measured continually to track measurable outcomes and remain effective. A positive impact can be achieved by implementing appropriate delivery methods, keeping content relevant and up-to-date, encouraging collaboration, and providing easy access to learning materials. Such programs fall under the goal of creating a culture where remote staff feel supported and valued in their role, and the company is committed to their development.