Productivity

Remote Work’s Influence on Continuous Professional Development

Dovile Miseviciute ·

continuous professional development

The new normal changed the way employees work and where they work from. While 55% of workers worked remotely in Oct 2020, this number has significantly dwindled. 

Currently, only 12.7% of full-time employees work from home (WFH). This isn’t because remote work isn’t popular anymore. It is—just not with the majority of employers. In fact, flexible working hours are one of the top priorities of an employee. 

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However, that isn’t the only thing on the priority list. 91% of employees surveyed by the American Psychological Association need continuous professional development. But what is it, and how does remote work influence it?

Relationship Between Remote Work and Continuous Professional Development

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is a planned learning practice focusing on your employee’s learning and development. It’s a continuous process that enhances your employees’ knowledge, skills, and experiences.

Simply put, CPD is necessary for employees because it: 

  • Promotes personal and professional development,
  • Helps them achieve their career goals,
  • Ensures their qualifications match the updated professional standards,
  • Encourages them to acquire new skills and hone existing ones,
  • Boosts their confidence and morale.

Given these unmatched career advancement advantages, 20% of employees want their employers to fund their professional development. 

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While it may look like an additional cost initially, CPD isn’t just beneficial for employees. It also benefits employers in multiple ways, including:

  • Improving organizational performance,
  • Addressing knowledge and skills gaps in the workforce,
  • Offering a competitive advantage,
  • Enhancing employee engagement and improving retention.

These advantages are irreplaceable. So, employers must cultivate a culture of learning and development to empower their employees and future-proof their businesses. While this holds true for all companies, it’s especially true for employers managing remote teams.

How is remote work influencing CPD?

68% of managers think their team—both remote and hybrid—suffers from a lack of informal feedback and development opportunities. This not only affects their team member’s career growth but also negatively impacts the company’s performance.

So, CPD is incredibly important for remote companies since their employees don’t get ample opportunities to interact and learn from their colleagues and superiors. But traditional learning and development activities, like formal training courses, seminars, workshops, and conferences, aren’t the only ways remote companies can offer CPD.

Consequently, remote companies must devise and implement innovative strategies to ensure their workforce has the necessary skills and expertise to survive in the ever-changing business landscape.

4 Unique CPD ideas for remote companies to adapt

Since learning and development are vital for teleworkers, remote-first workplaces must design competent CPD initiatives. That being said, don’t forget to establish realistic learning and development goals and objectives to improve your remote team’s performance

You might also have to encourage your employees to take advantage of the company-planned CPD activities. You could craft a career advancement framework to map out the skills employees need to master for professional growth.

While there are no perfect approaches because each employee has distinct needs, the following CPD practices serve as good starting points. Without further ado, here are four unique CPD ideas remote companies can adapt:

1. Promote business travel in your company

As far as unique CPD ideas go, this one is the most radical. Although you might be mentally tallying the business travel expenses, weigh the pros against the costs before you reject it.

Business travel isn’t just beneficial for the economy; it can reap benefits for your business, too, making your CPD initiatives a resounding success. After all, which employee wouldn’t want to embark on an all-expenses-paid trip?

continuous professional development

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But here’s the thing: the trip won’t be all pleasure (even though you should allow some time for that). Business travel provides a distinct opportunity for your employees to meet new people and expand their professional network.

A prime example would be you sending your local team to a business conference or seminar to represent your company, see thought leaders in action, gain industry insights, and speak with like-minded (or diverse) business professionals. 

While the actual percentage of each activity will vary based on the type of event you sign up for, one thing is guaranteed: your employees will benefit immensely from the experience.

For instance, if you’re a London-based business and need someone to attend the tech expo in Dubai, don’t hesitate to send your best people and the local team (ones based in APAC) to make the most of the expo. 

Similarly, if there are regional seminars you think your team could benefit from, send the local team to foster meaningful connections and develop invaluable personal and professional skills. 

Some examples include understanding social cues, reading body language, being prepared for impromptu meetings, and making the most of every opportunity (however small). They will also get a chance to polish their existing communication, time- and resource-management, and networking skills.

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However, all work and no play would make your employees resent these trips. So, ensure you open up their evenings or early mornings to give them ample time to soak in the new locations, learn more about the diverse cultures, and adapt to their surroundings.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll come back mastering the foreign culture and help you expand your foothold.

Choose a reliable travel solution

However, the daydream of sending your employees on business trips and ensuring their trip is a resounding success can only be realized if you partner with the best executive travel solutions. Pick a travel company that meets the following criteria: 

  • Stellar reputation: do some online reconnaissance and find out if the company has good reviews. 
  • International coverage: partner with a company that operates on a global scale, as boarding multiple regional travel solutions will lead to a mess.
  • Quick customized support: quick and reliable customer support is crucial if you don’t want your employees stranded in a foreign city with no way to return home. 
  • Flexible booking options: the ground situation might change on a dime, so it should be seamless for your employees to change flight dates or book another hotel instantly.
  • A diversified range of travel options: choose a company that provides a diversified range of travel options, from flights, rental cars, and local trains to hotels and serviced apartments.

2. Bring gamification into training

Though training is a vital part of CPD, nobody said it had to be dull. Remember, warm bodies warming the chair and going through the training absent-mindedly won’t do you or your employees justice. 

But your workforce might be enticed by the idea of a game-like training session wherein they don’t have to mug up information or take copious notes.

Turn training sessions dynamic and gamify the training module to make it fun! Rely on your in-house developers, storytellers, compositors, and animators to get the job done, or bring in the big guns: experts. 

If you feel there might not be a large market for this, think again. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics mentions that over 2.5 million companies support remote and hybrid work. So, determine the companies that provide such services and get in touch.

Simulated story-telling in a game format will capture your employee’s attention and help them learn concepts through quizzes, MCQs, and treasure hunts rather than rote. Take things up a notch by introducing various game levels, points, and exciting prizes for winners of the training sessions.

3. Encourage social and peer-to-peer learning

The social learning tactic might be a favorite primarily because you won’t have to spend a dime on it. Social learning promotes the development of soft skills by observing and mimicking the behavior of your social circle. You can expand your employees’ worldviews and social cues by bringing your diversified team together. 

You (or your HR) have to set up social sessions for the team where everybody is highly encouraged to join and have fun. This activity is about bringing everyone together and aiding watercooler conversations your employees can’t otherwise partake in.

Plan some icebreaker games if you fear your introverted employees would be content to sit on the sidelines rather than participate and get to know their colleagues. This approach also works if you manage a cross-generational team.

A few such sessions would open doors for peer-to-peer learning and bring your scattered team together. This collaboration would make it more comfortable for your employees to reach management and leadership to gain valuable insights and advance their careers.

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4. Offer a professional development allowance

While all your efforts will support CPD, what happens if an employee working in Marketing wants to switch to Product Management? The plot thickens if the employee isn’t comfortable speaking up. 

So, instead of waiting for your employees to quit or suffer in silence, support them with a professional development allowance. This will allow them to invest in top-notch training and career development courses. Moreover, it’ll give them a sense of control over their learning and development

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Though not unique, it’s a good strategy to incorporate, especially for remote teams.

CPD is non-negotiable for remote companies

CPD is necessary for remote businesses to remain relevant in the dynamic business landscape. Apply the listed strategies, but don’t forget to monitor your employee’s progress. Use the career advancement framework to mark an employee’s accomplishments and determine the areas that could be improved.

Asking your employees to fill out an anonymous survey would also allow you to gather feedback regarding your CPD initiative’s success and weak points. Based on this, you can refine the implemented strategies to offer your employees best-in-class learning and development opportunities.

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Passionate content marketer looking to bring better solutions to the project management space.

2020 - Present Marketing specialist at Teamhood.
2014 - 2020 Marketing manager for Eylean.

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