Remote work is quickly becoming a regular occurrence in the United States. According to data from Global Workplace Analytics, “50% of the U.S. workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework and approximately 20-25% of the workforce teleworks at some frequency.” Also, 80% to 90% of the U.S. workforce says they would like to work remotely at least part time.
When managers, direct reports, and colleagues work side-by-side, it’s easy to create a supportive work environment. However, with a workforce that’s dispersed across the city, state, or globe, it can be more difficult. If your organization has remote workers—or plans to expand the option to work remotely—make sure you support workers with eLearning that increases their knowledge but also provides support in these other ways:
- Commitment: The long-term value of onboarding new hires is a hot topic today. Employees who feel connected—early on—to a new organization are more likely to stay with that employer for a longer period. If you have a remote workforce, eLearning is a way to deliver onboarding across the miles. An eLearning onboarding experience helps establish a commitment between the organization and your new employee by providing information about organizational culture, performance expectations, and sources of support that will make it easier for a new hire to adjust.
- Career development: Regardless of where they are located, employees want opportunities to develop in their careers. Providing eLearning courses about topics that help employees increase skills and further their careers helps establish a positive, development-focused environment—regardless of the employee’s location.
- Collaboration: Thanks to technology, eLearning enables ways for learners and remote teams to collaborate. Within your design, be sure that eLearning courses offer opportunities for participants to share their thoughts, questions and ideas with each other before, during and after the course. Check out this article for ideas regarding how to use quizzes, surveys and other forms of pre-work to engage learners and create a sense of collaboration.
- Connection: Remote workers deal with long conference calls, web meetings, and often the feeling that they’re on the outside looking in. An eLearning course provides a way for the learner to connect with the content—and the company—in a way that’s meaningful, and on their terms.
- Camaraderie: Even if your workforce is dispersed, you can build a sense of camaraderie with eLearning courses. Employees who “meet” thanks to eLearning content, or those who complete an online learning program together, can expand their professional network regardless of location. Design with camaraderie in mind; make sure to include chances for participants to partner and network with each other via online chats, discussion groups, or other community-building mechanisms available.
These five Cs—commitment, career development, collaboration, connection, and camaraderie—are all standard byproducts of expert eLearning design; now it’s time to put them to strategic use and meet the needs of your remote learners. As the world of work evolves and remote work options become more and more common, eLearning designers have an exciting opportunity to ensure that organizations are able to create a supportive work environment, regardless of the employee’s location.
Liz Sheffield is a freelance writer with a background in training and development. She specializes in writing about everything related to the human side of business. You can contact her via LinkedIn or Twitter.