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Remote work: 4 ways leaders can foster continuous learning

Want to nurture your team's strength and ensure professional development while people are working remotely? Consider these tips to grow a culture of learning

COVID-19 has changed the business landscape - perhaps irrevocably. Many businesses are continuing variations of the work-from-home model even as some social distancing restriction lift. While many companies are discovering the benefits of a flexible workplace, new challenges are taking space - especially, fostering employee development and company culture without a shaped physical office.

Top employees crave growth. The lack of growth potential is cited as one of the main reasons good employees quit their jobs. In fact, studies show that millennials, who make up the largest percentage of the workforce, value career development over just about any other factor when it comes to job satisfaction.

Development and learning opportunities are even more essential in a distributed workplace, were making employees feel like valued team members depend less on office posters and snake bar perks and more on meaningful action.

Here are four ways to foster continuous learning in your remote workplace.

1. Make continuous learning your mission

The first step is creating a growth mindset within your distribution workplace. Communicate to your employees that learning is a key company value and encourage them to explore their interests. One of the most impactful ways to do this is to create spaces in which employees can discuss and share what they've learned. Enthusiasm is contagious.

Set up weekly, or even daily, team video calls dedicated to sharing. Create a company chat channel to discuss career development and interests. When employees are given a place to share new ideas, something magical happens: Connections are made that weren't visible before. New collaborations form. This is where "culture" goes from concept to reality.

2. Provide the right tools

Ensure your employees have access to online learning tools. There's no shortage of distance learning resources out there: Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, and Udacity are just a few. These programs offer an excellent, affordable way to learn skills from coding to social media marketing and more. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology even provides all its college course content online for free.

Consider having your employees fill out a short survey to determine where their interest lie and put together a resource doc of pertinent programs and certification.

You might also consider building your own online University. This gives you more control over what your employees learn, as well as another channel for sharing. If you lack the time and resources to build your own site, a program such as Easygenerator enables you to create courses easily.

3. Encourage exploration

It's tempting to limit your employees to learn new skills that are pertinent to their jobs, but I encourage you to go of your preconceived notion of what is or isn't valuable when it comes to learning.

 Letting your employees explore their own passion and interest can yield some unexpected results. Art classes, for example, can teach your engineers and coders to look at problems in new ways and come up with creative solutions. Studying poetry can help your marketer use stronger, more impactful language. When employees pursue what interests them, not only are they happier contributors, they've better able to think outside of the box.

4. Invest in your team

Invest in your team and include learning in your budget. Conference and webinar tickets are a one-time cost that can provide months of inspiration and revitalization. Offer to pay for certificate courses or create a scholarship for employees seeking degrees in their field. The return on investment is immeasurable: You'll gain skilled, inspired workers who will use what they've learned to make your company better.

The right people make all the difference. Once you have them on your team, keep them. Long-term experienced employees add to institutional knowledge, encourage organizational growth, and strengthen company culture.

Investing in your team's learning will improve engagement and strengthen your talent pool.

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