Learning from Others at Work Without Seeing Them in Person
Life is a series of never-ending learning experiences. While school is traditionally thought of as the place to learn, there are discoveries to be made in almost every facet of life. The workplace is another common one, and there are a plethora of ways you can learn from your tasks and from the other people who you work with. You may think that you need to see people to learn from them, but that could not be further from the truth.
People learn from colleagues all the time even in a remote context. Of course, it is up to the supervisors and managers to manage a remote team well to ensure that the flow of information continues even when people are not seeing each other as much as they normally would. So, here are some ways that learning from others at work is possible even if it is not in a physical context.
The Challenge: The Learning Process Would be Easier in the Physical Workspace
This is always the problem, isn't it? You are expected to learn from coworkers without seeing them. Thankfully, the thing that people may have considered a challenge for a long time can be the very thing that turns out as an opportunity. Why do human beings have this challenge though?
You could call it a habitual kind of situation. How have people been learning from others at work for as long as you can remember? While there have been online methods of getting through courses and learning exercises, the face-to-face experience has seemingly been the most popular all along. Additionally, much of learning goes beyond what is being said or directly taught.
The kind of interaction that can happen in the physical space is not the same as what could take place in a virtual context. So, not only does it seem like there is a limitation with the method, but people are being asked to unlearn the habits that they would have developed, so they can undertake a learning process that feels like unfamiliar territory.
Suggestions to Make Learning from Others at Work an Effective Process
So, now that the stage has been set, and you understand where the challenge lies, it is time to look at some ways in which people can learn from coworkers virtually while ensuring that the lessons are just as effective as they would have been from a physical standpoint.
Address Your Comfort and Open Your Mind
Before diving into any direct learning tips, it is important to get these two indirect ones out of the way. You cannot build a remote team culture around a set of team members who are resistant to the learning experience and just plain uncomfortable. Both these things are going to become incredibly counterproductive, so it is best to address them as quickly as possible.
Do not try to tackle a learning from colleagues experience if you do not feel good from a physical perspective. Sometimes, this is just a matter of not having the office equipment. Productivity in learning works as productivity in working does. So, if you need to get yourself a functional home office desk and an ergonomic chair, you should get that addressed before taking on the virtual platform.
Having an open mind is also essential to the process. It may not be the kind of platform and proceeding that you are used to, but that does not mean you need to resist it. Resistance only serves to be another blockage two your ability to absorb information.
Use Collaborative Learning
The traditional learning style involves one person doing the teaching and others doing the learning. However, using a more collaborative style allows everyone to relay information and experiences, which other coworkers can learn from. Of course, going this route is not effective in every context, but you should take full advantage when it is possible.
Brainstorming online is easier than ever with the assortment of collaborative tools or virtual meeting platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Basecamp, etc. So, everyone should be encouraged to throw some ideas into the pool and learn from others at work. This is going to take some level of effort from the management side too, as some people naturally have more dominant personalities than others.
In this case, steps need to be taken to ensure that the less outgoing team members can be heard because they also have creative ideas to add to the pool.
Live Demonstrations with an Open Floor
While a more collaborative learning style was encouraged above, you are going to find many different contexts where a more traditional approach must be taken. Thankfully, with the advent of video conferencing technology, live teaching is still as possible as it was in a face-to-face context.
You or other coworkers can set up teaching sessions with online teaching tools, where one person who has desired knowledge provides information or a demonstration to everyone else. The floor is going to be open for questions, comments, and concerns, so people can get the clarification they need, allowing them to derive the most benefit from the lesson.
Speak to People More
Not every learning from colleagues experience needs to come from a formally established learning session. Many people learn from others at work by doing nothing more than communicating. The thing that makes comprehension a lifelong experience is you never know when there is something that someone can teach you and how you are going to learn that lesson.
Therefore, consider taking the time to speak to your coworkers more. Once you develop a good working relationship, it should be accompanied by a smooth information flow. Of course, you should not do this with only your potential for learning in mind. Building relationships for only your benefit does not usually end well.
Sometimes, you need to be the change that you want to see. So, if you want to acquire information, you may have to get things started by leading as an example to others. Start sharing information that is useful to your coworkers, and that may encourage them to do the same. It can increase employee engagement and improve productivity. This is one of the best ways you can practice learning from others at work while giving them benefits out of the equation too.
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