“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this oft-quoted proverb holds true in modern work scenarios as well. Anyone who has worked with external consultants conducting one-off training workshops and intensive sessions know that the knowledge shared typically begins and ends with those present.
Far too often, dust winds up settling on even the liveliest learning and development experience, and desires to make big internal changes give way to the inertia of the status quo. It’s unfortunate that such a significant investment in terms of time and money is often allocated toward a short-term impact.
These isolated experiences that lack sustained attention to an organization’s culture can lead to a general avoidance of learning and development (L&D) programs. Rather than approaching these efforts strategically, some companies have sidelined training or left it up to those in charge of individual teams, creating a disparate and siloed experience. And as many remote leaders are discovering, those who haven’t prioritized L&D are facing some very real and avoidable problems.
Internal L&D: The Gift That Keeps on Giving
If a company has internal champions with experience in training, L&D stands to offer impressive dividends well beyond its associated costs. Traditional co-located organizations have been investing in L&D for decades for several reasons, including:
- as a springboard for increasing innovation within and across teams,
- as a means for attracting top talent,
- as a perk for current employees,
- as a way to strengthen leadership pipelines, and
- as a contributing factor in reducing employee turnover.
You don’t have to be a CFO to understand that combining these benefits adds up to a noteworthy ROI. (Achieving even two or three would not only save money and headaches, but also serve to build a healthier company culture and potentially much more diverse team.)
Recognizing the value of internal L&D for organizational growth is an essential first step, but it’s also important to recognize how remote-focused L&D is specifically required for fully remote or hybrid remote teams. If you have business objectives built upon employing remote teams, then you need to have an L&D strategy that directly incorporates the needs of those remote individuals.
What Are the L&D Challenges Unique to Remote and Hybrid Teams?
Gaps in Remote Skills– Lack of a common language for remote work and an aligned understanding of the remote-specific skills needed at each career stage. Protip: we have some resources that can help here, including the Remote Work Dictionary and our Remote Work Competency Model.
Isolated Learning– Workers and managers are seeking information and learning independently. Everyone is experimenting with different best practices and different tools, resources, advice, but there is not a consistent process for choosing and applying what they learn.
Decentralized L&D Ownership– Within remote or hybrid teams, learning and development responsibilities are often shared among multiple departments or provided as an add-on to human resources or people operations.
Lack of Transparency– Communication barriers lead to low awareness, visibility, and access to development and advancement opportunities.
How Can Your Remote or Hybrid Organization Get Started with L&D Planning?
First, identify the owner of your organization’s remote learning and development. Depending upon the scale and setup of your organization, this could be a specific L&D lead rolled into the HR / People Ops department or at the team manager level. No matter where this resides, an owner of remote L&D needs to be identified to establish clear goals and objectives from the beginning.
Second, assess which of the remote L&D challenges above need to be addressed within your team. If your challenges are specifically the result of a remote or hybrid business model, consider partnering with an expert in remote learning and development. Companies such as Workplaceless dedicate resources and research to stay tuned into the trends and best practices of remote work. This can often be the most efficient and important grounding for L&D within remote organizations.
Next up, create your learning and development plan. Tying training goals to business objectives will ensure that you’re placing the right emphasis on relevant skills and abilities that will move your company forward.
It’s important to acknowledge skill differences, as well as deficits. Not all remote employees possess similar levels of experience in working from a distance. You can help them to stretch their limits by exploring ways to expand upon knowledge bases and expertise. Specific skills and competencies can be further honed via online programs such as the Workplaceless Remote Work Certification, through which participants can earn Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Professional Development Credits.
Last, but perhaps most importantly, you’ll want to determine how training can continue. Investing in training for your remote teams from day one is important, but what about day two, month two, year two and beyond. Your remote employees will want to continue to be challenged and grow. A successful long-term remote L&D strategy will be a critical component of that growth.
For remote firms looking to enhance their internal L&D efforts (this is where the “feed him for a lifetime” part comes in), Workplaceless offers the first ever virtual train-the-trainer program created specifically for remote companies. Trainplaceless is an ideal option for HR professionals and managers who will serve as facilitators or in a L&D capacity within distributed and remote-first organizations. It’s an excellent option for growing companies looking to design onboarding experiences from a distance, as well as those seeking ways to promote from within.
Get in touch today to schedule a consult and discuss your team’s needs. Or access the recording of the recent webinar Optimal Learning & Development Strategies for Remote & Hybrid Teams.
Investing in ongoing L&D for your remote team makes sense from so many perspectives. Will you satisfy your team’s hunger for knowledge for a day—or a lifetime?
Kristi DePaul contributed to this post.