How to maximise virtual peer learning for remote employee development
COVID-19 has forced companies to adapt. Transforming in-house workers into remote employees has become a necessity. It’s estimated that 27% of teams will continue remotely after the pandemic, and, in five years, the number of remote workers will double to over 35 million in the US.
Remote work has considerable advantages, like reduced travel and decreased rent prices for offices. But, many employees are finding it challenging to collaborate effectively.
Peer learning is a form of collaboration that allows employees to teach and learn from each other, with the potential to increase remote work productivity. Unfortunately, many remote team leaders are not implementing an effective remote peer learning strategy. This article, we will explore the best methods to maximise virtual peer learning and increase employee development.
What is peer learning?
Peer learning in the virtual workplace is the process of one skilled employee sharing information via video or conference calling software with another less-knowledgeable employee.
Let's say you're an executive dissatisfied with a team management software like Bitriz24. Another more technologically experienced manager can advise and recommend Bitrix24 alternatives.
Is peer learning important?
The transfer of knowledge should never be hierarchical. All employees, regardless of seniority, have previous experiences that are valuable assets to your company.
Peer learning doesn't have to be limited to teams or departments. Your customer service team has extensive knowledge about customer needs, which could benefit your sales team.
What are the advantages of virtual peer learning?
The pandemic has caused businesses to make cuts. Training remote employees and ensuring their development has taken a back seat. Luckily, with peer learning, the knowledge is already within your company. You just have to find out who possesses valuable intel, with whom this should be shared, and how it can further your goals.
A disadvantage of remote work is the lack of socialising. When virtual team leaders think about how to create a communication plan for their employees, they often acquire the best video conferencing applications and software. But, encouraging social interaction is rarely a priority.
Peer learning can encourage the social exchanges we’re all missing out on. Setting time aside for this within an employee schedule is crucial.
- It supports employee development – virtual onboarding can be overwhelming for new staff. Peer learning can fortify company values and objectives.
- It prevents recurring errors – mistakes can be detrimental to a company's productivity and success. Encouraging accountability and allowing employees to learn from mistakes and teach others how to avoid them is vital.
- It increases cultural knowledge – businesses interact with clients globally and hire employees from different backgrounds. Supporting employees to share information about their own cultures can strengthen your international customer relations.
- It improves soft and hard skills – employees who teach colleagues will strengthen their leadership, people management, and empathy skills. Taught employees will increase their listening and communication skills.
- Foster senior and junior relationships – senior employees have substantial industry knowledge. Scheduling peer learning sessions with junior employees can bridge the skills gap and allow strong professional relationships to develop.
How to promote virtual peer learning with good management methods
Make a plan
Before you start, you need to develop a well-thought-out plan. Ask yourself questions like:
- What skills do employees have that I’m not aware of? – start by re-evaluating CVs, looking through skills and achievements.
- What will the structure of my program look like? – one-to-one sessions or groups? Will there be weekly or monthly catch-ups? This will depend on your company, culture, and objectives.
- What tools should I acquire? – this is mainly tech-focused and will be discussed next.
Promote a collaborative environment
Before you throw your employees into the deep end, you need to develop a collaborative environment.
Employees that don't know each other are unlikely to feel comfortable teaching each other. So, you mustn't skip out on team-building. Organise virtual team bonding activities to improve employee communication, like:
- Virtual escape rooms – to encourage teamwork
- Show and tell – to allow employees to develop stronger bonds
- Charades – to promote creativity and quick-thinking
You should also promote virtual networking opportunities. Create internal company profile pages. These can include employment history, qualifications, skills, and interests.
Employees can thereby look out for potential upskilling opportunities and find new topics of conversation for networking.
Get some help
Peer learning can quickly transform from a valuable collaborative development opportunity into a waste of time. Appoint someone to keep track of meetings, progress, and keep conversations on track.
Feedback is essential in every part of business. Let's say your company has just acquired a new speech analytics software. Allowing your employees to give their honest opinion will ensure that this software benefits your company. The same goes for peer learning.
You must implement an easy-to-use feedback system that allows employees the option to be anonymous. This will enable you to optimise your system.
How to promote virtual peer learning with technology
Choosing the right technology is crucial in a remote environment. You should consider the following options:
Having a message board in your communication software is critical. Peer learning shouldn't just occur during scheduled meetings. It should be continuous. Quick messaging allows employees to ask questions and receive immediate responses from a knowledgeable co-worker.
If an employee comes across a helpful resource they know someone else would benefit from, they can easily send it across.
Asynchronous video messages
Not all employees have time to attend every live peer learning session, especially the more senior experienced ones. Video messages let employees pre-record helpful information that can be viewed at any time, one of the key benefits of private cloud platforms.
A senior staff member could record a video about the best personal productivity tools they’ve used and which ones they would recommend for specific tasks. This can be stored on the company's private cloud and accessed whenever and wherever.
Gamification is the new trend in business. It involves rewarding employees with points and badges for every meeting or course they attend and informative video they view. You can also reward question-asking and answering.
To sum up
With remote employment on the rise, managers and executives need to bring the office's benefits to the online space. Socialising is often scarce in remote teams. This can harm peer learning. Company leaders must develop a strategy that encourages collaboration and promotes the efficient transfer of knowledge. Businesses that provide their employees with the environment and tools to do so will have a significant advantage over those that don’t.