three Challenges That Can Accompany Distant Work
This is not an easy way to travel
Remote working challenges are more common today than ever before. The more companies turn to partially or completely distant workers, the more often three obstacles arise: creating space for informal and relationship-building communication, providing equal access to valuable learning opportunities, and defining and building an intentional corporate culture.
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Familiar to companies around the world, from digital native startups to digital brand transitions, they can undermine even the most demanding learning culture efforts if not handled effectively.
Lack of informal communication opportunities
The technology removes much of the stigma associated with formal remote meetings, as video-enabled conference calls and web chats make it relatively easy for team members to collaborate. Replicating fleeting ad hoc conversations can be more difficult, however. Unfortunately, if you fail to do so, you can rule out important opportunities for relationship building and knowledge sharing. “Most companies have no problem recreating their weekly formal meetings for a digital workforce,” said Kiara Graham, learning strategy advisor at D2L. “But informal interaction – the kind of connection you can make when teammates can pop into a coworker’s cubicle for a quick chat – requires intent and planning to keep the relationships going.”
“One of the biggest challenges in adding remote employees to your team is thinking creatively about how to make sure those away from headquarters are as connected and engaged with corporate social engagement events feel. Always ask the question, “How do we translate this experience and offer it to those who are not physically here?” Chantal Thorn, Director of Learning and Leadership Development, D2L
Unequal access to learning
The same limits for building informal relationships apply to learning and development. While 55% of employees consider career growth and opportunities to be more important than salary, 47% of remote workers are not happy with their employer’s learning and development opportunities.
“Just-in-time learning with peer-to-peer feedback shouldn’t be a privilege for employees who happen to be on-site,” said Graham. “If you want to take advantage of the productivity and loyalty gains that come with a remote workforce, you need to give them equal access to development opportunities.”
“You cannot build a learning culture if learning is only supported and available for a few companies. It may not be possible for all of your dispersed learning opportunities to be equally available to your dispersed employees. However, if you do so step by step, you can offer them absolutely fair. And when you do that, you are not only truly promoting a culture of learning, but you are also creating a culture of equity and engagement. “Chantal Thorn, Director of Learning and Leadership Development, D2L
The scattered development of a corporate culture
Formalizing and building an intentional corporate culture can be a challenge, even if your team members rub shoulders all day. When relationships are digital, it’s even more important that this doesn’t happen by accident – as there’s a good risk that it won’t happen at all.
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“When your business is all or part of the way, you need to make every effort to find ways to document and share your values,” said Graham. “It’s not just going to happen as organically as it can when you’re in the same building every day. How you learn and how you communicate has to be very deliberate if you want this to affect your team. “
“Corporate culture is not a set of values that were torn out of the air at a leadership retreat. It is a product of people at all levels of your company that brought them to your company and that makes them stay. The process of identifying and sharing your corporate culture begins with your entire workforce on-site and off-site. “Kiara Graham, Learning Strategy Advisor, D2L
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