The data about moving work out of the office and using remote learning instead is an ongoing debate. Recently, long-time supporter of working from home, IBM, decided to bring its workers back onsite. The thought process was employees would be more productive.
Disadvantages of remote learning
Many companies feel the same way as IBM and state several reasons using remote learning just doesn’t work. Some of the disadvantages include:
- Lack of community
When you work remotely, companies say there is a lack of culture. Basically, since you are not in an office setting there is no way to connect on a personal level. And also that collaboration goes down without face to face meetings. Also, employees are less likely to speak up when they have concerns because it’s harder to ask a simple question.
- Decrease in communication
Another reason to stay in the office is communication suffers when working virtually. Running a remote team, tasks are rolled out and instructions given, but how do employees voice concerns along the way? Does remote learning really solve this? What are the methods for solving problems when they arise?
- Low retention rates
Since managers fear lack of company culture as a reason for staying in-office, they also worry about keeping valued employees. As much as employees want the flexibility of working from home, there is a sense that these employees don’t feel connected to the company itself. And as a result, these employees would easily leave for another workplace option even if offered the option of remote learning.
- Productivity decreases
You’ve heard that expression, “out of sight, out of mind?” Well companies fear running a remote team means just that. Basically employees will be assigned tasks and they won’t be completed. Or they hire a contractor only to find the work wasn’t done satisfactorily. And with employees not giving a 100 percent, company productivity will decrease.
- Security concerns
Another issue is security. If you are running a remote team chances are they are using a personal Wifi network from home or are working in a local coffee house using a public domain. But how secure is this? Will sensitive company information be compromised? How will remote learning enforce this needed security?
- Training is harder
The importance of continual learning across all industries is vital. Not only do employees need to learn new skills to do their jobs properly, but companies need to stay competitive. And the best way to be an industry leader is to be up-to-date on the latest trends and technology. Companies fear running a remote team of employees training won’t work. Basically it will be too much of a challenge for remote learning to work. And employees won’t express concern for what training they are lacking.
- Subpar technology and equipment
When you are in an office setting the workplace is naturally designed for getting the job done. But when you work virtually, this may not be the case. Employees can’t walk across the hall and ask IT for technical support. Or if a new employee starts, how do they get the necessary equipment to get up and running? Will a company have to provide more resources than they would to employees in the office? And how will remote learning work when everyone is working virtually?
Solutions for remote learning that work
For all the reasons given why working virtually won’t work, remote learning can solve for each of these. Here are some easy solutions companies can put in place.
1. Strengthens culture
While several companies say culture will suffer from going virtual, the opposite is actually true. Businesses can strengthen company culture using remote learning. Start listing company goals and objectives based on employee feedback. Then using a learning management system start building training programs around each of these objectives. For example, if employees note an overall issue with diversity, create a diversity training program that improves employee engagement, productivity, and retention. By teaching employees to be more culturally responsible, the company unity will become stronger.
2. Increases communication
Many businesses think a brick and mortar office is more conducive to communication. In actuality, when employees are remote, communication is forced to increase. Since you can’t knock on a door for a quick question or get together for a lunchtime meeting, communication becomes more top of mind. A good place to start is looking at what your communication needs are. Then there are several tools for remote work that help solve these needs from conference calls to instant messenger apps to project management systems. Using remote learning, offer training on these key tools to instantly boost your communication.
3. Keeps valued employees
By going remote, businesses worry employees will leave for other jobs due to the disconnect. When actually the opposite is true. According to the 2018 Global Talent Trends study, it was found that 51 percent of employees wished their company offered more flexible work options. So many employees leave their jobs based on lack of flexible options like remote capabilities.
And to combat any feelings of disconnect, remote learning can be used to solve this. Courses can be interactive to include features like group chats, video conferencing and social sharing to help connect employees even when everyone is working virtually. Plus, you can also offer training in fun connecting apps like online office games, virtual coffee tastings or even dress up conference calls. So keeping valued employees isn’t an issue, but really an advantage to going remote.
4. Creates surge in productivity
As IBM stated, a lack of productivity was a strong driver for bringing their workforce back into the office. However productivity can actually increase from working remotely. Think about the less distractions virtual teams have. There isn’t that two-hour commute, the hour spent going out for lunch or the break room chats. Remote teams can focus on the job at hand more than their office counterparts.
And for companies still worried productivity will suffer, remote learning can combat this. Courses can be designed to give employees the skills needed to work virtually. For example, topics like organizing your workflow, project management and collaborating with your team members. These training programs along with expectations set from managers will drive productivity up.
5. More secure networks
Security is a concern whether you work onsite or off. However, it’s not hard to build in some protection when working remotely. There are a few digital security tools a company can use. Have employees use personal hotspots and home networks as much as possible. You can also add a layer of encryption by using VPN companies like RSA. And for providing a company laptop to remote employees, IT teams can make remote updates and install anti-virus software. Finally, if employees do work from a coffee shop for example, adding a screen privacy filter either externally or as an internal function will keep prying eyes off the screen.
The final step in security is remote learning. By teaching employees the value of changing passwords often, how to encrypt sensitive emails and how to set up a secure workspace will help keep the company safe. These are great onboarding training sessions for new employees and also when new security measures are rolled out, it’s important to have implementation training in place.
6. Training is easier
Companies who say training is harder when working remotely may not have the proper learning program in place. If your business is relying on an Intranet for learning courses, this can be cumbersome to access when out of the office. However, by setting up a learning management system, all files, lessons and pertinent information can be stored on the cloud. That way, it can be easily accessed whether on a mobile device, laptop or desktop computer.
Learning management systems have several functions built in like assigning training tracks for groups of employees, checking to see which courses have been completed and how quickly the training can be completed. This system of remote learning allows employees to take the necessary training in a convenient and systematic way. It also cuts down on emails back and forth and confusion as to which file version to access. And with things like a library of training templates, it’s easy for companies to get up and running quickly.
7. Office set up is streamlined
Employers worry that by working remotely, employees may be relying on outdated equipment or not have the necessary tools to do their jobs to the fullest. Depending on the size of your company, your strategy may be different. But ultimately, by providing direction as to what your employees need to get up and running, working in-house is no different than working from home.
For example, you can either bring employees into the office if you have a brick and mortar building to issue equipment like laptops and cell phones or provide a list of what’s needed. If you don’t have a physical office, you can provide a stipend so that employees can purchase what is needed. If you are a startup, you can give employees a list of free resources and apps that can help make their home offices run smoother. Whatever your strategy is, making sure your remote employees have the necessary tools in place can be accomplished with some advanced planning.