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Workplace Learning in a Virtual World

June 11, 2022

As a college professor and cofounder of a development and training company, I am clearly in the education business. 

And, so are you. Workplace learning just looks a little different.

In the olden days (ie. 2019), effective workplace learning might have looked like:

  • Leaning over a colleague’s desk to see what they are working on
  • Asking a colleague’s opinion while riding the elevator
  • Eavesdropping on two expert colleagues as they debate how to solve a problem while heating up their lunch

In our virtual world, this critical, informal workplace learning has all but evaporated – without us even noticing.

There is no more stopping by desks and chatting.

I work with software engineers at a fast growing startup, one that is totally committed to learning. Even here, because of remote work, I see young engineers struggle to get the feedback and that flow of information needed to accelerate their learning and to ultimately add value. 

What you can do?

Consider yourself a teacher.

Every senior employee must consider themselves a teacher. This means deliberately creating space and time to share your expertise.

Allocate more time for informal learning.

Virtual world meetings have become too efficient. This might work for you but not be helpful for a newer hire. Consider the value of adding a few minutes to meetings to check in, to have a laugh, to encourage people to get to know each other. These connections may help create paths for informal learning.

If you are working in a fast growth industry, your success is tied how well your team learns and grows. Our new reality needs new approaches.