Four ways to upskill remote workers

Written by Sean Bave on 29 August 2018 in Features
Features

How do we embed a learning culture in our remote workers? Sean Bave has ideas.

In 2018, every company needs to incorporate technology to stay competitive. This often requires hiring software developers, and that’s easier said than done. Developers are in short supply, with only 11% actively looking for a job, according to a 2018 survey of 100,000 developers.

One way to overcome the challenge that has proven successful for companies like Apple is to hire remote developers.

Remote working was adopted early by the tech industry, and is becoming increasingly popular across all sectors. A recent study says a whopping two thirds of all employees globally work remotely at least once a week. Hiring remote workers means a broader talent pool and an ability to be more competitive in the eyes of top developers.

However, while remote working brings a number of benefits, it also has drawbacks. Most crucially, remote developers can miss out on skills that those in the office might pick up naturally. And in the face of a widening skills gap, upskilling and training is becoming increasingly important.

So how can you ensure you keep your remote workers up-to-date with the latest skills?

By giving employees a space to learn and grow, HR and L&D leaders can identify skill gaps, which can catalyse training programs and more learning.

Create a learning culture

Developers see learning as an integral part of their career trajectories. According to one recent survey, almost 90% of developers say that they’ve taught themselves a new coding language without taking a formal course - spending on average seven hours a week of their own time learning new skills necessary to do their jobs.

Businesses need to ensure remote workers are encouraged to spend their time upskilling and measure this time as a positive step towards their business goals.

Provide access to a community

Despite being seen as introverts, software developers place enormous value on community. The sustained popularity of sites like Stack Overflow shows developers’ openness and willingness to be supportive; over 70% of software developers feel a sense of connection with their peers.

Company leaders can leverage this desire for collaboration by providing access to internal or external communities. By creating private channels or groups on Wire, Slack or Zoho Cliq, remote workers can freely engage, ask questions, exchange information, and bond over shared experiences with their coworkers.

Furthermore, by giving employees a space to learn and grow, HR and L&D leaders can identify skill gaps, which can catalyse training programs and more learning.

Set personal and strategic training goals

When it comes to training and upskilling software developers, every team member has a different skill set and training need. This means leaders must conduct assessments for each remote team member and establish individual plans that set up each employee to reach their highest potential.

It’s crucial to leave as much freedom to the developers as possible.


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Developers prefer to learn on their own terms, so it may be counterproductive to impose a certain schedule or training plan. What’s more, developers have to see value in what you suggest: there is nothing worse than an organisation investing time and money in training that no one cares about, or that won’t be beneficial to a company’s overall growth.

Put them in control

There are many options for training and learning, and developers tend to grativate to bootcamps, hackathons and online coding competitions like HackerRank or TopCoder. These may appear ‘non-traditional’ to business leaders, which is why organisations should put some control into the developer’s hands.

This makes remote workers feel appreciated, builds trust, and eventually leads to increased productivity and a healthier, more successful working culture.

As the modern workplace evolves, it’s time for company leaders to step up in order to stay relevant and attract top talent. Companies, like employees, must accept remote working as a positive: according to a 2017 YouGov survey, 89% of British workers believe that flexible working will boost their creativity.

It also means ensuring remote workers feel they are being provided with the right training to keep them up-to-date.

Equipping employees with cutting-edge skills keep them happy and impact your company’s bottom line. Tech has always led the way when it comes to effectively implementing remote working, and as it’s more widely adopted, other industries must learn from tech.

 

About the author

Sean Bave, vice president and general manager, Stack Overflow Talent

 

 

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