Remote training | How to create an effective learning culture in a virtual workplace

How to create an effective learning culture in a virtual workplace

On a recent Actus webinar covering the topic of Learning & Development, we were struck by 79% of attendees claiming that they did not have an effective learning culture.

This is clearly a concern in the current climate; where many of us have had to swiftly adapt to a new way of working. Many have also taken on new responsibilities without any formal training that might have taken place pre-COVID. For example, managers (some of which never had management training in the first place) are now expected to understand how to navigate managing employees remotely. If we are to get the best out of our employees (including our managers), we need to be able to invest in their learning and development even during these turbulent times. In our view, this investment involves taking steps to create an effective learning culture remotely. Therefore, we will explore 7 tips you can use to create (or redefine) an effective remote learning culture.

1. Recognise Learning as an Organisational Core Value

Learning should not be an afterthought, a 'tick-box' activity or reward. The first step to creating a learning culture is to stress its importance organisation-wide. This means recognising learning as an organisational core value and making sure it is visible; for example within your performance management software. It might not be the easiest task to propose a new organisational value, so a strong business case may need to be presented to key stakeholders and influencers. The CIPD has a great piece of research that looks in detail at the evidence of the many benefits of having an effective learning culture. Certainly, this includes growth, profitability, transformation and productivity at an organisational level. In addition, employees have greater job satisfaction, and organisational commitment. Clearly, these are all highly important areas, especially within the realms of virtual working!

2. Identify Learning Ambassadors

Naturally, once you have established learning as a key part of your organisational culture in writing, you will need visual examples of people embodying best practices. This is not straight-forward, especially when we aren't all sharing the same physical space. Start by gathering key influencers, whether that be departmental heads or team leaders, and communicate to them the importance of creating an open culture of learning. Once onboard, they can start to demonstrate best practices to their teams. Perhaps by sharing their own learning goals and asking teams to submit their own for feedback. This is not meant to be seen as added work or viewed as a 'checking-up with' exercise (download our infographic on building trust in a virtual workplace here). It is more about inspiring our teams to take ownership of their own learning needs whilst ensuring they feel supported.

Furthermore, it is crucial that key stakeholders stress the importance of setting time aside each week to focus on learning. This could be as simple as suggesting employees go for a walk and listen to a podcast, and this also has a positive impact on wellbeing (download our resources on supporting employee wellbeing here). Having this time for learning scheduled in will help employees recognise its importance. It is also far more likely to take place if it is initiated from the top. Learning will vary from role to role and it's important that we understand this. For developers, for instance, learning may simply be actively learning coding and problem solving and they could resent a formal 'tick-box' approach (listen to our podcast on how to help people to learn remotely here). Certainly, knowing and understanding the needs and demands of different roles should influence the learning styles you recommend.

3. Set up a Mentoring Programme

On our most recent Learning & Development webinar, we found that the lowest readily available type of learning was mentoring (32%). Even then, some of the attendees only had mentoring in pockets which were not formally standardised. We were asked how could you set-up a mentoring programme despite remove working challenges?

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