When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March 2020, many workforces responded with similar strategies. Companies that were able to switch to a remote work experience began allowing employees to work from home in order to ensure safety and wellbeing. Remote work has become increasingly popular, even before the pandemic, and is likely to continue long after social distancing restrictions have been lifted. Remote work, as well as the tools we use to be successful while working from home, are also becoming increasingly important components of the modern global workforce.
In today’s ever-evolving professional landscape, providing teams with engaging and sustainable tools and resources to support continuous Learning & Development (L&D) and interaction among employees is crucial to keeping your remote organization on the right path – to sustained performance and success.
Remote Teams: The Modern Workforce
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the number of remote workers in the U.S. and around the world, remote work is hardly a new phenomenon. A recent study indicates that during a 2017-2018 survey period, roughly 2.5% of workers worked from home full-time and approximately 8% of employees worked from home at least one day a week.
Unsurprisingly, the number of remote workers has skyrocketed in the last year due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing precautions, with one Stanford economist predicting that the percentage of working days spent at home in the U.S. workforce has increased up to a staggering 42%.
While remote work has not been an option for large swaths of the population — such as for those essential employees who work in healthcare, retail, transportation and amongst other industries — for those who are able to work remotely, evidence suggests that remote work is here to stay. Employers and employees have reported increased job satisfaction and greater productivity as a result of the flexibility and self-reliance required with remote work. One recent survey revealed that 47% of corporations intend to allow their employees to work from home full-time in the future, while 80% of companies plan to allow their employees to work remotely at least part-time. Because remote work has proven to be favorable among employees and is a cost-effective alternative, many companies have expressed interest in allowing their employees to make partial or fully remote work an ongoing initiative.
Which Tools Can Help Facilitate Remote Work?
In order to retain top talent in an increasingly remote workforce, the tools and resources you choose to implement are paramount to building motivated and empowered employees that meet and exceed goals. Working remotely requires the use of a variety of tools to keep employees engaged and productive. Some tools that companies have adopted to maximize employee production include the following.
1. Web Conferencing
When working from home, one of the most common drawbacks employees express is loneliness and a sense of disconnect from their co-workers and the organization as a whole. Web conferencing tools help connect employees with one another for meetings, brainstorming sessions, or team-building activities. Regardless of the independence level of each employee, some face-to-face time is an essential component to keeping teams motivated, engaged, and successful.
Platforms like Zoom, BigBlueButton, and Google Meet are ideal for allowing employees to spend time virtual team building and conducting meetings. These tools continue to advance in order to heighten the experience and make brainstorming and collaborating even more interactive. For example, BigBlueButton allows you to display slides and a whiteboard, as well as host breakout rooms for group activities. This makes it easy to gain all the benefits of an in-person meeting, like brainstorming and collaboration, without actually having to meet in person.
2. Learning Management Systems
The Learning Management System (LMS) can have a wide variety of applications that go beyond simply hosting online courses. An LMS can be used to revolutionize the L&D experience, with the ability to track and monitor progress with insightful learning data, deliver custom and curated courses, and provide streamlined and organized initiatives in a single solution.
Because an LMS can either be closed-source or open-source (i.e., used directly out of the box with proprietary software and service, or freely available and modifiable software with integration capabilities to third-party solutions and additional plugins), an LMS can be used beyond initial training and onboarding to provide a branded virtual hub where employees can access courses and resources, host discussions and share company updates or announcements.
3. Virtual Team-Building Activities
As touched on above, team building is an essential and sometimes overlooked initiative that can be used to encourage remote engagement and connection among employees. Contrary to what is the case for many teams, remote workers that are separated by geographic distance can still feel connected with their co-workers, bosses, and the larger company culture. Virtual team-building activities help establish bonds between employees and across departments while building upon a unified direction and company mission through fun and engaging activities.
These activities may include scheduled meetings or team hangouts using web conferencing to establish, evaluate, or collaborate on larger goals and learning needs as a whole or they could be as exciting as gamified learning to encourage interaction among teams. Gamified learning uses fun, healthy competition to promote learning for the purposes of professional development. Anything that connects remote workers and helps them feel like they’re an integral part of a team is a great way to turn a group of remote workers into a cohesive remote workforce.
4. Cloud-Based Service
When you work with a broad workforce that is spread out over a vast distance, cloud-based service is a must. A cloud-based service refers to a software provider that hosts your platform to ensure smooth operations and continued development of the product on a secure and reliable cloud network. Not only does cloud-based service offer remote workers the ability to access services — such as learning management systems — from anywhere, but it also provides remote workers with the tools and storage they need to transfer files, documents, and more with minimal hassle. Additionally, many cloud-based services can be integrated together, allowing your LMS to connect with your organization’s other important systems for a more streamlined experience.
Effective cloud-based service must include high-quality support that allows remote employees to get the technical assistance they need while working from home. A cloud-based service is critical for streamlining remote operations and allowing remote workers to maximize their productivity and efficiency.
Building a Powerful Learning Ecosystem For Successful Remote Work
With the increasing viability of remote work for businesses globally, it’s imperative your organization continues to incorporate engaging and interactive initiatives that support the success of distant teams for the longer term. With a dynamic and effective learning ecosystem in place, you can build a culture of learning within your organization that empowers learners to reach and exceed business goals.