The working world has shifted more than ever before. What was once a fringe idea, working remotely, has become the standard in many industries, and while some aspects of working life may go back to the way they were, many other changes are here to stay. But that doesn’t mean that the professional development, employee growth, and self-improvement of your team can fall by the wayside.
With the right professional development plan and mindset, you can set all your employees up for success, whether they’re in an office, remote, or somewhere in between.
New opportunities for employee growth in the virtual space
From an employer standpoint, one of the most positive impacts of the shift to largely remote professional development has been the potential to reduce the costs associated with bringing your entire team to one central location for trainings and meetings. Now, you can host virtual trainings that promote employee growth without having to pay the overhead that comes along with hosting them in a physical location.
Even though some smaller businesses did face increased initial costs when switching to remote work, there have been, largely, extended cost savings from the transition. According to a recent study by Christopher Huber of ReadyTech, companies can save between $9,550 and $15,870 by moving just a single course from a traditional classroom to a virtual platform.
And, with the improved ease of virtual trainings, your staff can take advantage of more opportunities for self-improvement.
Keep communication open
Having direct and easy access to reliable communication tools are a key to success with team, whether in-person or virtual. And this is doubly true when hosting a professional development event.
If you’ve already transitioned to a fully remote or hybrid workforce, then many of your day-to-day tools can work great in a professional development setting as well. Allowing for side conversations through instant messaging platforms not only allows your employees to get answers to their questions, it also helps boost morale and brings them closer as a team. Many video conference platforms allow for group notes to be posted as well, which can be a very effective way to gather instant feedback. Plus, there is your trusty email client for any information that needs to stick around longer than others.
That connection shouldn’t stop at the end of the event though. Follow up email and instant messages asking for thoughts, reviews, and ideas for future sessions are a great way to cement learnings from an event, while also getting people excited for the next one.
The importance of shareable files
One of the biggest concerns with remote professional development is the lack of in-person collaboration. Not having everyone in the same space can make it harder for team members to share ideas, give each other feedback, and learn from each other when working together on a project. However, with a little extra effort, you can prevent physical distance from hindering successful collaboration and employee growth.
Before kicking off any event, project, or assignment, make sure that all necessary materials are in a single place that everyone can access. Placing your documents and files on a cloud server is a great way to enable your team members download, share, or work together directly in one place. Hosting a shared document is a great way for you to gather a group’s thoughts on a project.
After a project ends, these files can be combined, packaged, or simply shared out to participants, or your team at large. However you use them, hosting everything on a cloud platform means you can share things at any stage with just a few clicks.
Everything becomes hands on
If you’re doing a software or process training, the advantages of hosting your event virtually multiply even more.
Thanks to screen sharing software, you can walk your participants through a process first-hand, as they are testing it out on their computer or device. Now you won’t have to worry if they will run into an issue later, they can personally take the steps you outline, and instantly ask questions or raise concerns.
Also, when they’re in the virtual space, all of your professional development trainings have a shelf life past the event itself. By recording your sessions, it’s easy for employees who were unable to join to watch them after the fact.
Virtual professional development as a cultural touchpoint
While you won’t be renting out a ballroom and hanging up banners, you still have the opportunity to bring some company brand and culture to your virtual events.
Before your presenters build their slides, make sure you have a list of colors, fonts, and styles that they should use. That way your entire even can have a cohesive and polished look. Kicking off your day with virtual mindset or icebreaker activities can raise the excitement of your participants, and get them ready to start the day. And then keeping your lines of communication open can work to keep that tempo up.
Get started on your professional development plan
When you’re ready to make your next professional development plan, remember that with the right tools, they can be even more effective ever before! Virtual events give you access, ease of sharing, and cost savings that you won’t find otherwise. So go start planning!