Article: How learning at work is changing in a remote working world

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How learning at work is changing in a remote working world

With a self-driven culture of learning taking on a preeminent role in a digital work culture, here’s what companies need to focus on.
How learning at work is changing in a remote working world


While learning needs spiked during the pandemic, the focus was mostly on learning that could be enabled in a remote working world – which was primarily digital based learning. It brought into sharp focus the viability of traditional models of learning for a hybrid future.

As companies set to navigate an unpredictable time, they need to be mindful of how ‘tech intensity’ plays a vital role in business relevance as well as transformation. According to Satya Nadella, Tech intensity comes down to three things:

First, how you adopt the latest technology and integrate it into your own organization. For any organization to succeed in a world of unprecedented constraints, they will need to empower their employees, engage their customers in new ways & transform their products and services with new business models. In addition they need to optimize operations to keep customers and employees safe and secure. 

Second, how you create capability within your employees. Creating a culture that embraces learning is critical to this. 

Finally, trust. Without trust none of the above are possible.

The reality is that the last eight months have accelerated the need for organizations to build employee capability. Organizations whose employees have the skills to harness the power of technology to deliver new solutions will not only weather the current crisis but also be better prepared to navigate future events. 

It is estimated that 800 million people will need to learn new skills by 2030 due to the digital transformation taking place.  In fact, it’s estimated that there will be over 149 million new tech jobs created in the next five years in fields like, cyber security, data science and machine learning. A learning culture where learning is at its core will be what keeps you connected, elastic and resilient—and able to ride the change that seems to be happening every day.

“Microsoft’s own culture transformation journey is rooted in moving away from a “know it all” to a place where you have insatiable curiosity that you want to continue to learn so that you can go on to drive innovation. At the heart of our mission is the concept of a growth mindset,” said Heesun Kang, Chief Learning Officer – APAC, Microsoft

While there’s an increased investment in digital modes of learning, there’s a need to be mindful of increased fatigue. Heesun noted that, by leveraging platforms by Microsoft Teams – which, in turn, enable learners to engage in smaller groups, companies can make learning more meaningful and personal to individual learners – an experience that can’t be replicated in larger formats like MOOCs. 

Here’s what companies can focus on:

1. Focus on learning in the flow of work

With digital learning taking on a primary role in the workplace, curating courses for new team members can be enabled in the flow of work. With Microsoft Teams , team members can not only curate courses that will be useful for work, they can also engage in conversations and get back to work when needed. It is especially useful for managers, who can easily assign learning modules and track progress on a single platform.

With micro-learning modules on Microsoft Teams, employees can also perform their work effectively and quickly. Crowdsourcing ideas for learning, adding credits and getting certified can be easily accomplished on the platform.

Here’s some examples for Apps for Learning that can be integrated into Teams such that users don’t have to leave their Teams Apps to learn and grow. A range of apps are enabling leaners to create a vibrant and collaborative learning. Flipgrid – enables students to record and share videos, Mind Meister helps create mind maps to collaborate in real time and Quizlet – which helps to search, share and study quizlets sets within Teams. 

2. The need create opportunities for observation

With a new hire or a new manager, the missing link for learning in a remote working world  is the opportunity to observe. Whether working remotely or on-site, employees need more opportunities for observing how their managers and peers interact with the client, how they navigate difficult workplace scenarios and how to move forward during a project paralysis. L&D teams need to support managers with resources that they can leverage to not just identify moments or opportunities to observe, but also create moments of learning and reflection.

“There’s a need to mimic a face to face learning environment, and technologies like Teams can replicate the intimate learning experience virtually, which is where the value lies in learning,” Heesun said.

3. Building continuous feedback loops

Continuous feedback is an essential component of learning. In a remote working world, there’s a need to structure regular check-ins with the relevant stakeholders who can share feedback essential to one’s growth. 

From assessments, 360 feedback and regular touch points with managers, companies need to invest in building continuous feedback loops – in a way that compliments employees working on site and remotely. While there are a number of new mechanisms that are now available to capture and study feedback even during work and study, companies must enable employees with tools to seek continual feedback. 

“Today learners need to know what to prioritize, they need to be intentional and be realistic about new skills – and that means more practice with peers and multiple environments,” Delphine Gunther, Learning Business Program Manager, APAC, Microsoft said.  

4. From individual contribution to collaboration

Collaboration on work related tasks is one of the top ways to engage in continuous learning online. Working together on projects not only helps build teamwork and peer to peer knowledge exchange, it can help contributors understand strength areas and development needs. It can further help employees collaborate on a day-to-day basis.

Delphine noted that “to convert learning to real skills, the company leveraged Teams to work out specific customer scenarios as a group virtually. Apart from enabling small break out rooms to drive concentrated learning, there’s a need to enable a mindful, focused learning experience that maybe different from how they’re used to learning before.”

“Planning the roadmap for learning is already shifting from an annual exercise to a six month or a three month activity, because of the pace change,” Heesun said. As the future of work moves to a hybrid future – with a combination of remote and on-site workplace, HR teams need to replicate strategies and successful processes to ensure that their businesses thrive.

Listen to the conversations on how to reimagine work here.

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Topics: Talent Management, Learning & Development, #ReimagineWork

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