Are You Looking into Virtual Collaboration? Why Upskilling Your Workforce Will Fail if You Don’t Address This First

The COVID-19 Coronavirus is impacting businesses in unprecedented ways. Due to the rapid transmission and deadly nature of this pandemic, businesses are scrambling to provide ways for their workforce to work remotely by providing tools and training to their workforce. But as important as tools and training are- a critical component for success is missing- one that if not addressed, will likely derail upskilling efforts and significantly decrease its effectiveness. What’s missing and how can you address it?

What’s the Problem You’re Trying to Solve?

Working remotely can be an ideal solution to be productive while reducing the spread of the virus by minimizing contact with others. Although not all workers are able to work remotely, those that are asked to do so now due to this pandemic often are doing it for the first time. That means they need to learn how to use the tools to work remotely, such as how to:

  • Access their work network from home (i.e., VPN)
  • Host and/or attend virtual meetings
  • Share files and collaborate online with each other
  • Chat and call colleagues

In other words, the problem many companies are solving is a “how-to” problem. How do you access your stuff and connect with colleagues? That seems fairly easy and straightforward to solve.

Popular Learning Approaches

To solve a “how-to” problem, learning professionals can employ proven methodologies such as:

  • Micro-learning: to learn what you need in small increments
  • Quick Reference Guides: to access what you need to know quickly
  • Live and Recorded Trainings: to see demonstrations of how to do new workflows 

Workers leave these trainings with a set of skills of how each of the tools works, such as Office 365 (productivity), Zoom (web conferencing), or Slack (instant communication). But there’s a problem, and it’s a significant one that most learning professionals don’t consider- the mindset of workers hasn’t changed. 

The Problem is More Than “How to”, It’s a Shift in Mindset

When working remotely, many virtual tools offer new benefits to workers that increase collaboration, productivity, and communication. For example, virtual workers can:

  • Record and playback their meetings at their convenience
  • Simultaneously edit a cloud-based document
  • Access persistent chat threads from work team communications

However, workers often use their traditional thinking and mindsets when working remotely. Case in point: last week, a colleague of mine emailed me notes from a virtual meeting and asked everyone on the distribution list to reply with any edits. The topic of the meeting astonishingly was on using Office365 to collaborate in real time. Instead of emailing his notes, he could have added the link to a cloud-based doc in our team channel. That way, our team could easily access his notes, edit it, and see all of our comments in real time. But no- he emailed his notes. Why did he do that?

When people use new tools with old mindsets, they get all of the limitations of their old mindsets with none of the benefits of the new tools.

Solving the Problem of Mindset

The problem was not that he didn’t know the collaborative capabilities of Office365. The problem was that his mindset and previous experience have been to email and attach files- that’s just what you do. Effectively working remotely is more than a new tool or workflow, it’s how to think differently. To address this, learning professionals can front load learning experiences at the beginning of their training that addresses shifting mindsets. For example, workers can apply new ways of thinking about:

  • Sharing files (cloud vs local)
  • Chatting (persistent vs traditional)

Reach out to us if you need support upskilling your virtual workforce and shifting their mindsets. Your workforce will not only know what new virtual meeting tools are, but how they can think in new ways about working. That’s the formula for success.