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eLearning For Resilience In Business: Teams And Technology



Support Global Teams With eLearning Initiatives

Deloitte’s 2020 Global Human Capital Trends survey revealed a prevailing sentiment among all organizations–a recognition that a substantial portion of their workforce, ranging from half to the entirety, required reskilling between 2020 and 2023. And this was during the early stages of the pandemic. In the present, the imperative for such adaptability and growth corresponds with a need to cultivate team resilience. Research conducted by McKinsey & Company during the pandemic underscored this need, with organizations that displayed healthy, resilient behaviors having a notably higher likelihood of staying afloat when compared to “unhealthy” companies [1].

This may appear fairly self-evident to most of us–the healthiest companies perform the highest–but the intricacies of instilling and solidifying resilience within your teams remain less transparent. Particularly in this burgeoning realm of remote work culture, the process of cultivating resilience demands the thoughtful navigation of the digital scape. With in-person interaction between colleagues becoming less frequent (if not non-existent), the urgency around finding a solution for remote team resilience is all the more acute. This article examines the obstacles in the way of team resilience building, alongside the solutions that eLearning can provide.

The Remote Work Paradigm Shift: A Curve-Ball For Team Resilience

According to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report for 2021, it is projected that approximately 28% of the American workforce will transition to full-time remote work by 2026. If this shift repeats, even by a fraction, around the globe, then a significant portion of business leaders will soon be tasked with overseeing remote teams. This transformation necessitates resilience in and of itself, but in an ever-evolving world, teaching resilience in remote teams becomes equally paramount.

Team resilience encompasses a team’s capacity to anticipate potential challenges, prepare for them, adapt, and successfully surmount them; all whilst maintaining the cohesiveness and unity required to sustain peak performance. Formerly, building team resilience could be accomplished in a physical workplace setting, where establishing clear and open lines of communication is often second nature. In contrast, remote work culture poses a new set of unique hurdles to the team-building problem. Such hurdles cannot always be effectively addressed using the conventional resilience strategies we are used to.

Fostering Resilient Teams Remotely: The Challenges

The primary obstacle in building resilience in remote teams is, of course, the geographical and temporal distances between colleagues. Separated across multiple time zones, team members may encounter difficulties in working synchronously, maintaining robust communication, or forging the empathetic, supportive, and complimentary relationships that remain essential to resilience [2].

As profoundly social beings, our evolutionary path has ingrained in us a reliance on nuanced social and physical cues to develop interpersonal bonds–especially the crucial foundation of trust, which is integral to building resilient teams. Given the challenge of replicating the conducive environments for these connections–such as the conventional office setting–we must turn to alternative strategies to facilitate employee interactions and build powerful networks. In this context, eLearning emerges as a highly effective means to bridge the divide created by remote work.

Fostering Resilient Teams Remotely: The Potential For eLearning

eLearning epitomizes the systems, processes, and technologies employers can use to upskill and reskill their employees virtually–or, in other words, remotely. Online education and eLearning solutions offer a framework that empowers team leaders to nurture resilience, benefiting both individual employees and the broader organization.

With 24/7 access to eLearning portals and training materials, employees can grow and learn at their own pace worldwide, at the same time holding open and accessible communication with each other. Notably, eLearning presents a cost-effective alternative for fostering remote team resilience (compared to traditional in-person approaches), not to mention its inherent scalability as a digital solution. For businesses venturing into international markets, the adaptability and scalability of your resilience-building framework will reward teams by a huge degree and will, ideally, become embedded in your overall strategy.

Cultivating Resilience With eLearning: The 4 Traits Of Resilient Teams

In Unbreakable: Building and Leading Resilient Teams by Bradley L. Kirkman and Adam C. Stoverink, the authors present four fundamental characteristics that define truly resilient teams: confidence, candor, flexibility, and foresight. We delve into the potential applications of eLearning in helping foster these four pillars of resilience in remote teams.

1. Confidence

Resilient teams exhibit confidence in their ability to confront challenges head-on, effectively navigate them, and come out of the other end of the tunnel stronger than before. This sense of confidence transcends an individual’s self-assurance, which usually constitutes confidence in personal ability. Rather, this confidence is rooted in a collective trust in the teams as a collective.

This collective confidence materializes when each team member has faith in their colleagues’ abilities, but more than this, intimately understands their coworkers’ roles. It necessitates active support for each other’s achievements, cheering coworkers’ on in good times, and offering them encouragement and compassion during difficult ones.

eLearning initiatives can help to foster confidence in resilient teams via the transparent and open sharing of knowledge and responsibilities, collaborative decision-making, upskilling and reskilling training modules to improve individual confidence in the employee’s own abilities, and the provision of a platform for regular team feedback, analysis, and consequent improvement.

2. Candor

Certain team resilience specialists would go so far as to contend that resilient teams must comprise employees who deeply and genuinely care about each other’s welfare. In the remote work environment, reaching such a depth of compassion is inarguably harder to achieve, provided the lack of out-of-office hours colleagues are able to spend with each other. However, this isn’t to imply that candor cannot be promoted, especially with the assistance of eLearning.

Resilient teams must communicate openly, honestly, and effectively to navigate change and challenges successfully. While clear communication is always essential in business, it becomes fundamental in building resilient teams–a lack of candor breeds distrust, leads to slower responses to external issues, and hinders effective problem-solving; all of which may prove costly, even fatal, to a company.

eLearning platforms offer a solution by providing a secure environment for team members to address conflicts, share insights, strengthen connections, and collectively overcome difficulties. This could take the form of forums for spontaneous “candor breaks,” in which the participants set aside time to speak openly without reproach. Alternatively, eLearning may break down geographical barriers, offering an accessible interface for team communication, regardless of the remote worker’s time zone.

3. Foresight

Effective planning lies at the core of team resilience. The capacity to anticipate potential hurdles is invaluable to business; conducting simulation scenarios equips teams with what they need for a spectrum of potential issues they might encounter in the future. Yet foresight entails more than an outward, forward-thinking perspective; it also requires introspection.

In addition to training teams to address various challenging scenarios, eLearning solutions serve as a tool to assess the existing skillsets of team members, uncovering areas of weakness. These individual shortcomings are like tiny fissures in the collective foundation of the group and, if not addressed, could jeopardize the team’s overall mission.

eLearning empowers resilient teams to pinpoint their vulnerabilities and subsequently seek out additional training and education through their eLearning platform to fortify these specific areas. The combination of assessment, upskilling, and scenario simulation–such as contingency planning for when a crucial team member must step away–fosters the foresight required for teams to demonstrate resilience effectively.

4. Flexibility

Lastly, flexibility. The classic analogy of the tree serves us well here. If the tree is rigid, strong, and unyielding, then in calm weather, it may look perfectly robust; however, in a storm, that same tree will snap and fall. In opposition, the young and flexible sapling can sway with the wind’s whims and withstand the same storm without faltering.

Now, substitute the tree with a team–you’ll see that the key principle remains true. To build a genuinely resilient team, it must be a flexible unit. Managers can promote flexibility within an organization by providing training that enables team members to become familiar with one another’s roles to the degree where they can collaborate effectively, redistributing responsibilities during workload fluctuations that may require varying skillsets.

Furthermore, recruiters can contribute to the development of more resilient teams by selecting from a more diverse pool of employees–often associated with diverse backgrounds encompassing factors such as ethnicity, race, religion, sexuality, and gender. The inherent accessibility of eLearning solutions extends the scope of recruitment to encompass a broader and more diverse talent pool.

Remote work, too, plays a significant role in this inclusivity, offering a viable alternative for disabled and neurodiverse applicants, who may be less suited to office work and long commutes. The self-paced nature of eLearning–whereby employees develop their different skills at different speeds and using different eLearning tools–not only enhances accessibility but also empowers employees to gain a deeper understanding of their colleagues’ roles.

Recap: The Importance Of eLearning For Building Resilient Teams

Fostering resilience within remote teams has assumed heightened significance, particularly in light of the profound disruptions the pandemic has inflicted on numerous businesses, along with the resulting transformation in global work dynamics. For organizations contemplating international expansion, or operating through increasingly remote teams, resilience extends beyond mere survival: it means competency and future-proofing, too.

The four primary attributes of an actively resilient team encompass confidence, candor, flexibility, and foresight. These attributes can be promoted, trained, and reinforced with the assistance of eLearning tools. eLearning proves especially valuable in fostering resilience within remote teams, whose members may never have met, and who may live on opposite sides of the world.

References:

[1] Foster organizational resilience for a stronger 2023

[2] Understanding Asynchronous (Async) Work for Remote Teams in 2023

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