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4 Tips for Driving Better Remote Learner Engagement

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Thu Oct 28 2021

4 Tips for Driving Better Remote Learner Engagement
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While remote work shook the professional world at the start of the pandemic, it has surfaced key insights for figuring out what works best for learners. A tighter focus on cultivating engagement and motivation during a time of grief and uncertainty has planted the seeds for transformational learning across industries.

Learning and enablement leaders at TripAction, Shopify, Hopin, Square, MURAL, Nextdoor, and INFUSEmedia share how they shifted their priorities to better sync their people and teams during the course of the pandemic. These are the top four tips on cultivating the habits, skills, and tools for better remote engagement.

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#1 Make Learning a Habit

Intentionally commit time in the week to keep yourself organized. This will ensure your workflow isn’t interrupted and is key to productivity during a time when it can be hard to differentiate between work and home life.

Daniella Bellaire, global head of enablement at Shopify, relies heavily on organizational skills. She says, “As an ongoing learner myself, I like to keep it simple and stay organized. I break out my learning objectives by day or week, carve out that time in my calendar to ensure that I have no distractions in the space of my choice.”

Daphne Valentino, sales enablement manager at INFUSEmedia, advises people to be relentless with their discipline to keep themselves sane. “Remote learning (and working for that matter) requires a lot of self-discipline to balance success in both your personal and professional life. When I first stepped away from the traditional office environment, I found it was very hard to ever ‘disconnect’ from work. When you are no longer in a traditional and structured environment, it becomes even more important to be committed to your own wellness in order to be successful.”

#2 Empower Learners to Speak Up

Lower the social risk associated with asking questions, seeking feedback, making mistakes, or proposing new ideas. This sense of safety will plant the seeds for a culture of curiosity and growth.

Nikki Schanzer, head of sales and GTM enablement at Hopin, emphasizes speaking up. “For many, this is uncomfortable and something that may take practice. Even the consideration of speaking up forces you to pay attention more closely, so whether you ask a question, make a comment, add something to the chat … It’s a great forcing function to stay present as you're learning.”

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Pro tip: If you have a question, others will likely have the same one. It can help give you courage to ask when you know you’re helping others.

Shawnee Robinson, learning experience and instructional design manager at Square, understands how difficult this practice is in the remote world. “Do not be afraid to speak up if you have questions about content, next steps, or where to find resources. Be sure to let the instructor know or ask your manager for assistance. Being in our homes, we do not have the luxury of asking our neighbor if we are unclear about a topic in the VILT or e-learning modules.”

#3 Give Learners Control

Let your learners create their own personalized learning pathways from a mix of synchronous and asynchronous options to choose from. Understanding best practices for various types of training and skills will help you differentiate which lessons should be live and which can be conducted independently.

Timea Bara, head of sales enablement at Nextdoor, focuses on democratizing learning. “Allowing people to learn on demand, and offering them different modalities (resources, videos, podcast format) is one important element. I also introduced a structure of majors and minors for product training, where things that require a behavior change will be handled in a ‘live’ session versus pure knowledge plays that can be videos consumed over a specific timeframe.”

Daniella Bellaire, global head of enablement at Shopify, keeps an eye on success metrics to determine the effectiveness of her programming. “As a company \[that\] has made a commitment to be digital by design indefinitely, meeting our learners where they need the way they need is so important for us to fuel their success. Our programming now consists of small bursts of virtual real-life facilitator led training as well as async work. We have invested in new technology to help us drive engagement on a peer-to-peer level as well as in broader group settings. We are now able to track participation, progress on content, measure content retention with small assignments, and align regional leadership coaching for reinforcement.”

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#4 Leverage Learning Cohorts to Build Community

Design ways to foster a learning community—connecting learners has been proven to drive collaborative learning. This generates a culture of support and encourages perspective-taking as well as friendly competition during the process.

Hannah Clinton, director of sales enablement at TripActions, acknowledges the importance of co-processing learning. **“**One aspect of remote learning I feel can get overlooked is the importance of a sense of community, by which I mean a group of people who are going through the same learning journey, at the same time, having a platform to connect with each other and share thoughts. For me this adds a sense of camaraderie that I enjoy, and it’s been a highlight of remote learning during the last 12 months.”

Daniella Bellaire, global head of enablement at Shopify, encourages her learners to engage with each other as well as with the platform. “Remote learning does not mean independent learning. If you are someone who learns by talking through problems and ideas, then pairing up with peers is a great way to learn together and challenge each other. This also helps with engagement and relationship building as a bonus.”

The Ripple Effect

This new focus on human connection and learning in response to a decentralized workforce has positively affected other organizational outputs. Seema Jain, head of sales effectiveness at MURAL, celebrates the new tactics her team has developed in response to the pandemic. She cites how her sales team “... is employing MURAL to engage customers in a two-way conversation for better collaboration, participation, and co-creation that ultimately leads to improved win rates and increased ACV.”

Organizations have seen how driving a culture of co-engagement and connectivity are improving other facets of their work. These practices are giving rise to ways of operating that did not exist or were largely overlooked before the pandemic. Leveraging these skills, habits, and processes well beyond the pandemic will continue to optimize the ways our learners are engaged.

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