Businesses are changing how they operate due to the Coronavirus. Some companies may have initially offered telecommuting as a two- or three-day option, but now are telling employees to work from home indefinitely to prevent the virus from spreading.
While remote work offers benefits such as increased employee productivity, flexibility, and cost savings, it also creates different kinds of issues for a distributed workforce. Employees may be wondering how to do their jobs, while managers may be concerned with how to remotely manage their teams and keep employees trained with the skills to perform their jobs.
Learning and Development (L&D) organizations can play a major role in helping employees make the transition to working from home. L&D organizations recognize that business trends involving digital transformation, remote working, and the future of work will have a significant impact on how they develop and deliver training. Many L&D organizations are using digital adoption platforms and adapting their training approach to educate remote employees and ensure successful skill development.
New and Innovative Training Solutions
Business leaders realize that training is an ongoing process. Trainers understand that classroom options are no longer viable because of gathering restrictions in place due to the Coronavirus. Experienced trainers know that employeesforget 90 percent of what they have learned within one week of attending a corporate training class. Another interesting fact L&D instructors have discovered is that 70% percent of employees prefer to learn while they are working. And some 94 percent of employees feel they don’t have the time to learn at their company because they’re overwhelmed by so many apps. Employees spend 30 percent of a typical workday looking for information that helps get their work done.
With these types of challenges, L&D must develop new and creative training approaches. Digital Adoption Solutions, a new category of enterprise software, enable Learning, Training, and Support organizations to support innovative and responsive training. Digital Adoption Platforms (“DAP”) provide a contextual and personalized learning approach, with continuous training on a 24/7 basis. Your employees can learn by doing through an interactive learning based on a 70-20-10 model where 70 percent of the training is Learning by Doing (inside the applications), 20 percent peer interaction (through virtual communications), and 10 percent formal education.
Businesses are turning to digital adoption solutions for many reasons, bolstered by 65 percent of companies reporting their software has not been adequately used. Your employees can stay current with technology through digital adoption and increase how efficiently they use enterprise software. Companies that dive into remote work without a proper game plan could find themselves at a severe disadvantage.
Here are a few strategies I’ve learned managing and training remote teams that can provide some insights on how to function in this new reality:
1. Get organized.
Having a clearly defined structure can help manage your employees and teams. Managing people across the globe without knowing what everyone’s working on and having many projects on your hands can easily turn work into chaos. It’s important to create procedures and implement project management systems, set rules, and share them with everyone on the team. When managing specific projects, set clear deadlines and make sure everyone knows the next steps on the project. Use collaboration and sharing options that come with project management tools. This will help you efficiently keep your employees on track, review their performance, set clear objectives, and increase team productivity.
2. Connect with employees using collaboration tools.
Using collaboration tools is essential to help employees flourish and achieve success as a remote workforce. Whether it’s creating multiple channels on Slack to editing content on Google documents in real time, collaboration tools help to support employee workflow and allow team members to communicate effectively and efficiently. Most collaboration platforms also enable teams to express themselves and connect with each other on a personal level, promoting team cohesion and increasing productivity. Applying Digital Adoption Platforms also can make employees more productive by helping them adopt software faster with in-application guidance and customized walk-throughs, giving them a more practical and deeper approach to performing their job with the necessary software. With the power of collaboration and digital tools, you can foster a vibrant company culture with dedicated employees.
3. Provide a consistent learning environment and digital employee experience across Web, desktop, and mobile applications.
Employees in a typical enterprise may have to learn to use and navigate across 300 to 400 applications, such as applicant tracking systems, end-user collaboration systems, human capital management systems, learning management systems, customer relationship management systems, enterprise resource planning systems, procurement and supply chain management systems, support tools, and content management systems.
Each of these systems has a different user interface requiring employees to mentally make the switch and remember how to address the same need (e.g., create a record, access application documentation, and search for help) differently in each of these systems. This causes employee frustration and degrades the employee experience.
Learning and Development organizations can provide employees with a consistent familiar learning environment and digital work experience within and across all these applications and the multiple devices they can be accessed through. This is achieved as the in-app learning experience provided by Digital Adoption Solutions is consistent. This is especially meaningful in remote work scenarios as employees may be on their desktop working in their home office, then transition to working on their laptop as they move to the couch and then to their mobile phone while they sit at the dinner table as they navigate different physical environments and devices that the luxury of working from home provides.
Leverage Learning in the Flow of Work
Research shared in a keynote by Josh Bersin in the LinkedIn Talent Connect, on February 14, 2019, highlighted new learning technology market segments. Digital adoption and workflow learning tools were highlighted as offering the benefits of learning experience, program delivery, and microlearning.
DAPs provide in-app guidance such as interactive walkthroughs that guide users step-by-step across various fields, tool tips on what various fields mean, and data entry validation rules to help them enter the correct data. Employees no longer need to remember where to click different fields in each application and across different applications to do similar tasks.
DAPs also enable remote new employee onboarding by providing mini task lists for users to accomplish in-app tasks and track their progress. Further, employees logging into the application for the first time can be shown guided pop-ups that give them virtual application product tours and prompt them to complete high-value actions such as completing their profile, changing their password, etc.
DAPs can help L&D professionals put a spotlight on new application changes through using beacons that focus users on what is new and smart pop-ups that broadcast informational messages. DAPs also can save L&D and Support teams time by providing a layer of self-help atop and across applications. Users simply type their questions and get relevant answers that are contextual to what they asked, where they are in the application, their role, their application instance, and their in-app click behavior. This reduces the volume of “how to” support tickets by 40 to 60 percent.
Foster a Strong Company Culture—One that Embraces Continuous Learning
While studies show that working from home increases employee productivity, many employees find themselves taking fewer breaks and working longer hours with full-time remote work. Checking in on employees and making sure they’re taking care of themselves is essential to avoid employee burnout. Showing you care about them is essential to managing positive employee morale. Fostering a culture of positivity and transparency helps employees feel connected. Encourage employees to be involved in many aspects of the business and share with them the company’s vision and objectives. Set clear expectations and specifics as they relate to virtual working. This can happen by getting to know each other, working toward the same goals, respecting each other’s time, and valuing everyone’s skills and talents.
It’s important for training to be interwoven into your culture. Your employees should participate in training on a regular basis. L&D organizations should develop a creative training approach that considers the unique needs of your remote employees. Supporting your employees through ongoing training helps employees feel confident and committed to your company.
No matter how much you train your employees, they will always have learning needs and questions that will arise in their flow of work, that you cannot anticipate. DAPs track all user search queries, including the ones to which users did not find a response in Self Help within applications. These then are routed to L&D and Training managers to build new content around.
As the events relating to the Coronavirus continue to unfold, companies must continue to re-strategize their approach to these new realities. Companies that are prepared for a remote work reality can continue to conduct many aspects of their business and keep employees committed and happy.
Vipul Gupta is the head of Marketing at Whatfix, a Digital Adoption Solution (DAP) that disrupts Application Training, Learning, and Support content by providing contextual, interactive, real-time, and autonomous user guidance—driving additional adoption and productivity gains. Whatfix has a proven record of increasing employee productivity by 35 percent, reducing training time and costs by 60 percent, reducing employee case tickets by 50 percent, and increasing application data accuracy by 20 percent. The company is based in San Jose, San Francisco, Bangalore, London and Melbourne.