This time last year, telework was a luxury only afforded to a privileged few. Now, though, if your business is to survive and staff is to keep their jobs, then Remote Workforce is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity.
But the speed with which companies nationwide have had to transition from partial or no telecommuting to fully online operations has meant that some former business priorities may have fallen by the wayside.
And, for a lot of companies, the first casualty is probably going to be training and development. On the surface, of course, that might seem perfectly reasonable. After all, job one is to keep the company afloat.
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That does not mean, however, that it’s time to take training and development off the priority list. In fact, to prepare for this brave new world of remote work, you’re almost certainly going to need a greater focus on training and development, not a lesser one.
Your employees, after all, are adjusting to a new way of working, a new means and standard of performing. And they’re going to need some support if they’re going to perform optimally, whether as temporary telecommuters or as permanent digital nomads.
Make It Count
The most important thing that you’re going to need to do to cultivate a successful learning culture in your remote team is to figure out what your team actually needs. This is tough, as is apparent by the simple fact that an estimated $97 billion (yes, that’s “billion” with “b”) each year is wasted on ineffective training.
Studies also show that employees worldwide report that only about 25% of the training they receive has been tangibly effective or useful in their job functions or overall professional development.
That’s not only a shame, it’s a significant business threat because it means that businesses are pouring precious funds into training and seeing little, if any, return on their investment.
But it’s not only a drain on the company’s financial resources. It’s also a drain on employees’ time. If training and development do not tangibly contribute to the teams’ acquisition of relevant skills, then you’re not only wasting time, but you’re also wasting money and productivity. .
The threat of insufficient or ineffective training is particularly strong in the newly-remote global business environment. The economic fallout of the pandemic necessitates that businesses be lean, efficient, and thriftier than ever before.
So that means that, yes, training and development must be central to your remote business model. But only when the training is relevant, meaningful, and effective.
Call in the Big Guns
Business leaders and decision-makers aren’t wasting billions of dollars each year on ineffective training just for the fun of it. Despite their best intentions, they’re choosing the wrong content, curricula, or platforms simply because they don’t know any better.
That’s not a personal failure. It is simply a reflection of the fact that developing professional training programs is, itself, a highly specialized skill. For that reason, recruiting a chief learning officer (CLO) for your teams may well be one of the most cost-effective, performance-optimizing decisions you could ever make for your company.
CLOs combine vast industry experience with advanced training in professional education and development. They’re going to know how to develop individual and team development protocols to bring out the best in your individual staff members and to move your company seamlessly toward its most ambitious short-term and long-range goals.
Innovate and Customize
Whether you’re working with a CLO or flying solo, though, customization is the key to ensuring that your company’s training and development strategies are relevant and effective. The good news is, it’s never been easier to create content tailored precisely to your teams’ unique and evolving needs.
And the remote environment is actually ideal for this because these training courses can be created and completed online and on-demand. Best of all, you don’t have to have a degree in software development to build your custom courses with ease and efficiency, thanks to the intuitive user interface and array of modifiable templates included with these tools.
Another exciting benefit of the remote working environment is that you don’t have to shut your team out of the process of building your training and development strategy. Instead, you can use online collaboration tools to brainstorm ideas not only for the goals and vision that your team should be working toward but also for the path you’ll need to take to get there, both collectively and individually.
That means figuring out what is known and what must be learned, what skills and abilities are present within the team, and what must be acquired by the team, in order to bring the team’s vision of success to fruition. This is how you go from wasting money on training and development to making money through training and development!
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Training and development have always been something of a mixed blessing when it comes to business operations. On the one hand, they are prized central vehicles for success. On the other, they rarely live up to their promises in the real world of work. However, as business leaders and decision-makers work to adjust to our changed post-pandemic reality, training and development will play an increasingly vital role. To be successful, though, it is more important than ever that these strategies be strategic, relevant, and meaningful.