According to the Future Workforce Report, at least 27.7% of the workforce will comprise remote workers by 2025. Although the growth in the number of remote workers is mostly a Covid era by-product, many businesses were already embracing remote working long before the pandemic.
Hiring remote employees has many advantages, such as lower operational and training costs. However, it also comes with certain new challenges regarding employee training since physical learning is hard to implement in a remote workforce.
Training your remote employees does not have to be complicated. A bit of innovation and inventiveness, combined with well-planned and implemented peer-to-peer learning, can help you work around the challenges of virtual learning.
This article looks at the benefits that a business can gain from peer-to-peer training and the best practices for its implementation. But first, let us understand everything there is about this learning method.
What is peer-to-peer learning?
Peer-to-peer learning in the workplace is when one skilled employee shares information with others to help them understand something better. For remote employees this will typically be via video calling/conferencing or even email correspondence.
Peer-to-peer learning is typically used to help less-knowledgeable employees understand business processes better. However, it can also help recruiters understand the workings of your business when onboarding.
In most workplaces, employees will always turn to their peers when they want help with understanding something new. Harvard Business Review reports that at least 55% of employees will turn to peers as their first option for learning something new relating to the business.
Although peer-to-peer learning is not as common for remote employees, given the apparent constraints like distance and limited interactions, it is still one of the best ways of training your employees.
79% of CEO from across the globe worry that the increasing skill gap among both office-based and remote employees threatens the growth of their organisations. And since the traditional corporate training systems are no longer effective and most are outdated, peer-to-peer training provides one of the best ways to bridge the skills gap.
Benefits of peer-to-peer learning
Peer-assisted learning is an effective way to foster team collaborations and ensure your employees work together more effectively. However, the benefits do not stop there, as there is a lot more your team and the business can gain from learning this way.
Here are some benefits of remote peer-to-peer learning that make a strong case for why you should leverage it to engage your remote employees and enhance their performance:
Facilitates deeper learning
Peer-assisted training allows employees to learn from their fellow workers, which is more effective than individual training.
In the virtual world where remote workers operate, interactions between team members are limited, so this learning method is one of the few effective ways to ensure deeper understanding.
Deeper learning occurs when employees gain a more impactful educational experience that lasts long. Through deep learning, the employees will also grasp concepts that they can use to execute their roles.
For example, if you have a new remote sales associate, having them interact with the sales manager often through regular video calls will help them grasp what is expected of them much faster.
Deeper learning can also take place through peer reviews. By having employees review the performance of their peers, business operations get streamlined through the facilitation of insightful feedback.
Collaborative learning environment
Peer-to-peer learning helps create a collaborative work environment, which is handy for remote workforce management.
The collaborative learning environment allows employees to share their industry knowledge and experience with their peers. It also helps break down barriers to information access within your remote team.
Traditional corporate training programmes will entail passing information from the senior staff down to the employees, resulting in information silos. Information silos will occur when knowledge is available to specific employees in your organisation and not others.
Given the limited human interactions, information silos can be a big problem for remote teams, but you can quickly solve the problem by encouraging more collaborations through peer-assisted training.
Builds stronger teams
Peer-to-peer training provides an easy way to build a stronger, more empowered, and community-driven teams.
A typical remote peer-to-peer learning system will require employees to learn together in teams. At the minimum, a team will include at least two individuals, creating a community-forward effort.
As the teams learn from each other, they will have to develop important communication and conflict resolution skills crucial for building a stronger team that is more effective.
Learning through peer-assisted training adds a socialisation element that helps make learning collaborative with added support from other remote workers instead of the learning becoming an isolated activity.
Improves bottom line
A remote team that is well-trained is likely to be more focused and motivated to work towards the success of your business.
Peer-assisted training makes your remote workers feel more valued, and they will hence reciprocate the value you show by working harder to help your organisation succeed.
Motivated employees can be very effective at improving your bottom line. Besides their extra hard work, the cost of training reduces significantly with peer-assisted training, and a cost reduction can also help improve your bottom line.
You will hardly need to pay for anything else when doing peer training besides just facilitating your employees, as you do not need to hire an instructor.
Despite being cost-effective, peer-to-peer training will still deliver great experiences for the workforce and your business.
Learning this ways also helps increase the quality of training your workforce gets without spending more money. Remember that your workforce already knows more about your business than any instructor you hire, so they will be more effective at training their peers than hired instructors.
Learning by teaching
Peer training is beneficial to both the trainer and trainee as it supports learning by teaching. Employees can share knowledge to ensure that the know-how remains within the organisation even if they leave.
Each participant in peer-assisted learning strengthens their skills throughout the entire experience, whether they are the teachers or learning from their peers.
Sharing knowledge among peers is also less intimidating than formal presentations from professional instructors.
Also, the collaborative setting in this learning environment gives employees the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.
The back and forth learning style with peers creates conversations that can help trigger other conversations that will help spur innovation and encourage employees to explore new ideas that can benefit your business.
Remote employee peer training best practices
You need to keep in mind a few best practices to implement successful peer-assisted learning. Here is an overview of the main ones:
1. Plan the training well
You need to have a well-thought-out plan before starting your peer training campaign. If you do not plan well from the onset, you will miss out on your target, and the campaign will not run as smoothly as you want.
It is good to start by evaluating your employees’ skills that you might not know or have missed out on when evaluating their CVs. This often means rechecking their CV to understand their skills and achievements better.
Next, you also need to come up with a training structure. What do you want the training to look like? Do you want to form groups or do the training in one-on-one sessions? The proper system depends on the objective you want to achieve and the viability of each option. For example, if your training targets one or a couple of employees, 1-1 sessions can work well but dividing the workforce into groups works best for large teams.
Another crucial element of planning for virtual peer-to-peer learning is determining what tools you will need to execute the training and looking for them. There is a more detailed section on training tools below.
2. Create a collaborative environment
One of the main advantages of this learning method is that it helps foster collaborations among your remote teams. However, before you can implement it, you should start by creating a more collaborative environment for your workforce.
Since your employees work remotely, they might not be very familiar with each other. People that are not used to each other will often feel uncomfortable interacting even in a relaxed training session.
Before the learning starts, you should take measures to create a collaborative environment, such as holding virtual team-building. These activities are also effective at improving employee communication, which is crucial for the success of your training.
Virtual networking opportunities can also be highly effective here as they will give the workforce new topics to engage their peers.
3. Invest in the right remote training tools
Remote training will heavily rely on tech, whether peer learning or using a professional instructor.
The good news is that there are more than enough tech options out there that you can use to create an effective learning management system for your remote workforce.
However, you should keep the following points in mind as you choose the suitable remote training tools:
- Budget – The more sophisticated and advanced the training tool is, the pricier it will be and so keep in mind how much money you want to spend. There are also many free remote training tools that can be highly useful, such as Google Classroom.
- Team Size – If you have a large team, you will need a dedicated tool to handle the large size and ensure effective training.
- Features – What features do you think will be essential for your team? Do they prefer a more interactive tool that allows them to collaborate in different aspects in real-time?
4. Use gamification
Gamification in remote employee training entails adding game-like elements to the training process. Gamification aims to increase interactivity and motivate the employees to participate more in the activity.
With gamification, you also have an easy way of preventing distractions. Here are a few gamification features you should consider adding to your peer learning.
- Achievement badges
- Scoreboard ranking system
- Competing for points
5. Create a dedicated support system
Every peer training needs a dedicated support system. Although the employees will be training each other, they still need someone to turn to if they face any challenges during the training or want some clarification.
Timely support and regular check-ins from the management are vital for ensuring the training runs smoothly. Hence, it is an excellent idea to appoint someone to oversee the peer training and provide support.
6. Remember to collect feedback
It is crucial to gather feedback on the progress of the training. Regular check-ins can be very helpful, but sometimes they are not enough.
Hence, it is wise to hold feedback sessions where the employees get an opportunity to provide their views on different aspects of the training.
Also, you can use technologies like QR codes to track employee training just as you would with physical training. Every time they scan the QR code, you get valuable information on their progress and also take in feedback. And the good news is that you can create them easily with a QR Code generator.
tips to introduce Remote peer-assisted learning
How you introduce peer-to-peer learning to your remote workforce will ultimately depend on your specific situation, but here are some tips that can be highly useful.
- Nominate a competent facilitator
- Create a safe learning environment for your workforce
- Pair recruits with your more seasoned employees
- Encourage an open-minded and global company culture
- Hold regular virtual peer learning brown bag events
- Leverage the social value of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter
Peer-to-peer learning is a simple but effective tool that businesses can use to ensure effective performance for their workforce. Moreover, most of your workers are already utilising this, so it should not be hard to implement. And with the best practices and tips above, things should be even easier.
Author: Jyesht Diwani – SEO Outreach Specialist, Beaconstac
Photo credit: Charlesdeluvio on Unsplash