With much discussion on whether to have employees fully return to offices, incorporate a hybrid model, or allow remote work to continue, the prevailing concern is whether productivity is continuous, smooth, and without major interruption. For companies that are deciding that hybrid and remote will best suit the overall company needs, including safeguarding employee health, then a means for collaboration is necessary. Do companies see employee training to improve collaboration and productivity as essential?
While employee training has had increased attention in recent years, the pandemic has shown that a clear-cut and targeted plan is critical, especially in terms of improving communication and collaboration among members of a team. Leadership should understand the fundamentals of teamwork and allot time for learning and development that advances the function of these teams. The increased need for using digital tools effectively and help teams evolve calls for continuous professional and learning opportunities, including daily learning through use of advanced technologies.
Leadership should consider the following suggestions when planning professional learning:
- Integrate learning in the workflow. For example, when the product developing team introduces a new product have employees incorporate the new product in whatever tasks are applicable. As they learn to use the product, they are developing key skills such as critical thinking and creativity and communicating feedback and thoughts to sharpen collaboration.
- Welcome continuous improvement. Regular opportunities for team members (Sales, Marketing, Product Development, etc.) to provide feedback on their practice relevant to their departments or projects is important. It helps each member understand what they need to do differently and where to focus attention. Constructive feedback leads to greater competence and stronger confidence with their professional skills and ability to move forward.
- Make learning accessible. Employees can feel overwhelmed when, in addition to project tasks and miscellaneous work responsibilities, they are required to do training. Learning should be available so that they can be taken when convenient, within a reasonable time frame. When the learning is also in “bite-size” chunks, employees can learn, process, and apply the new skills.
- Build simulation experiences in training content. To support employees’ understanding and quick application of key skills, learning courses should include simulation activities with self-checks. These self-checks help each employee receive feedback that will help them reflect on the skills being taught and how they understand them. The next, natural step is feedback from colleagues.
For companies that are starting this journey of incorporating quality training for improved collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity, starting with software that many are familiar with but not necessarily adept at using is a good first step. A popular digital tool that was implemented by many companies especially in this last year was Microsoft Teams.
The Microsoft software itself is generally user-friendly with several apps that can augment employee workflow. Microsoft Teams has been a popular tool that enables employees to collaborate via videoconferencing, shared documents, and chat features. As indicated by its name, employees can also form teams for focused collaboration (ex. Sales, Marketing, Production, etc.). But there is a learning curve involved in optimizing the use of Teams tools. By looking ahead at how Teams can better help employees align projects and work with the company mission and goals, leadership should plan training that will help employees learn and practice without requiring huge chunks of time (see suggestions above).
Boxlight-EOS, an award-winning organization with years of experience developing high-quality professional development experiences, has designed Microsoft Teams for Collaboration training courses for learners of all skill levels with the goal of supporting company team cohesiveness. EOS has also created several online training courses that teach the essential features and functions of using Teams, including video demonstrations, skills practice, and short skills checks. Courses created are CDP Certified and meet the rigorous qualitative standards for qualification. For more on Boxlight-EOS Microsoft Teams Training, click here.
By changing how company leadership views learning and development, and how to best implement training so that afterward employees feel confident versus drained, the overall company culture can be improved, and the skills and talents of each member strengthened. This is critically important as companies strategize learning opportunities for hybrid or remote working environments. With the right support systems and training courses, post-pandemic professional learning can move beyond the traditional and further into optimizing the use of digital tools to further company goals.
To learn about Boxlight-EOS offerings, including a K-12 Training catalog, please go to boxlight.com/pd.