How to develop remote workers’ skills
Article revised on 1 June 2020
Employee development is always win-win, but you still need to be able to continue that development despite the physical distancing measures imposed due to COVID-19. Here are some simple tips for making it a reality!
1. Stick with their continuing education plan
If your employees are already following a personalized continuing education plan, you have a leg up compared to other companies. But note that the context is much different than before: A large majority of workers are now working remotely from home.
Nevertheless, it is still possible to continue their established training plan. Encourage every employee to sign up for webinars or remote learning courses. Don’t forget that your colleagues need to be able to state their expectations related to their personal development.
2. Promote co-development and coaching initiatives
Under the auspices of enabling employees to converse with one another despite their physical separation, invite them to share their skills. Several videoconferencing tools offer alternating or simultaneous screen sharing. An expert that has mastered some particular software could offer training to a co-worker on its advanced functionalities.
Conversely, the latter could return the favour by explaining to the former the ABCs of project management, for example. Obviously the involvement of a manager in creating such a program is recommended.
3. Establish a mentoring system
A mentoring system enables you to become familiar with and better understand the dynamic between various departments of a company. Moreover, it avoids a silo mentality and contributes to establishing a collaborative, synergistic mindset.
A mentoring system is relevant in several ways. It allows you to support established employees and to guide employees who’ve taken on new responsibilities. In addition, it is highly useful in cases of on-boarding and integration of a new employee. The role of the mentor is to guide new recruits as they take their first steps within the organization, despite our current situation in the midst of a pandemic.
A more seasoned employee can thereby pass on their expertise through technological tools. They can remain available at all times to those who are charged with handling those responsibilities. And no doubt they will likely be quite happy to be able to pass on the torch one day!
4. Facilitate membership in professional associations
Many trustworthy professional associations, organizations, and groups are offering continuing education sessions during the lockdown—many are even available free of charge. Employees simply need to have the relevance of these programs approved by a manager and then enroll, if appropriate.
Often an established calendar of events is made available to visitors on these organizations’ websites. Virtual conferences are also available. Sometimes teleworkers need to be a member of the professional organization in question in order to participate.
To encourage your employees to sign up for (or renew) a membership in these professional associations, don’t hesitate to reimburse any costs in part or in whole. However, you should invite these remote workers to discuss the membership with their immediate supervisor in order to have the expense authorized.
5. Organize virtual mini-conferences internally
While more demanding in terms of resources—time-wise as well as financial—virtual mini-conferences for workers and teleworkers can have a highly positive impact on your activities.
Take advantage of the opportunity to develop training sessions on topical themes—such as data privacy, for example—and also to mobilize the troops. A virtual quiz game or friendly competition between two groups is a great opportunity to show your defiance of the current pandemic!
Within the same department, it might also be interesting to hold lunch-and-learn sessions focusing on the projects of each employee. Time spent during meetings doesn’t always allow investigation of the details of every project. These less-formal meetings are good opportunities to discuss matters in a more relaxed, voluntary context.
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