Change Management: Making a Successful Switch from In-Person to Remote Learning

This year has been unprecedented; we have had to learn to adapt and fast. Before COVID-19, we went to work and school and went about our normal routine. If this year has taught us anything, it’s how to be flexible and adjust. As an organization’s leader (whether your title is executive, manager, or teacher), making a switch to remote requires action to make the outcome successful. As with any successful change, it needs to come from the leaders at your organization. Here, we provide some tips on how to help your organization make a wholesale change that sticks.  

Adapting Communication Skills
If you and your employees or students can connect live - do it. There are tons of technology tools out there and more developing, like Zoom to connect in real-time. Now more than ever, communicating with your employees and students is what will keep the momentum going and drive motivation. Distance should not prohibit communication but allow for the opportunity to over-communicate. In a previous post, we mentioned keeping one method for communication, rather than having multiple methods. This avoids technology overload or confusion about which method to use. Quality, immediate, and constructive feedback is essential to the growth of employees (or students), and often it can be forgotten when teaching or working remotely. Employees are looking for feedback on how they are doing and need to know that their remote work has purpose.

Keep a Schedule
Connecting with an employee and students is important while working remotely but could be cutting into productivity time if it’s excessive. Schedule one-on-ones once a week with employees or students to touch base. One-on-one’s are not only for employees, but management as well, to keep in touch with employees on a regular basis. The important feature is that the calls are regular and predictable and a set time to connect. This allows employees to plan work and projects around meeting times.

Support Independent Learning
Encourage employees to take an online course or learn a new skill. In a survey of more than 1,400 people, almost half (49%) didn’t think their employer was offering them enough learning and training opportunities. In some instances, the company may not be offering ways to take an employee’s education to the next level in their specific department. There are a plethora of online tutorials and videos that are industry-specific that managers can encourage employees to watch in downtime.

Motivation can be difficult in a remote environment when there isn’t face-to-face interaction. Have employees set individual or career goals for working remotely, and then communicate these goals with them on a monthly or quarterly basis. Encourage independent learning in those goals.

Practice Emotional Intelligence
In the context of an abrupt shift to remote work, it is important for managers to acknowledge stress, listen to employees’ concerns, and empathize with their struggles. Check-in with employees or students and ask them “how is remote work or learning going for you”? Don’t accept “fine” as an answer. Asking this question opens up for a discussion of what is going well and where they may be struggling. Listen carefully, and let their response be the focal point of the conversation. If you're unsure how well you read other people and understand emotional intelligence, take an emotional intelligence quiz to see how well you understand emotional cues. 

Effective leaders (including classroom teachers) take a two-pronged approach, both acknowledging the stress and anxiety that employees and students may feel and then providing support and an ear to listen.

Be realistic when it comes to remote learning and training. Many are still learning to adapt remotely. Management should set clear expectations and communicate objectives, effectively. Check for emotional cues to make sure employees are getting the support they need.

To learn more tips for remote learning with Verasana, visit our website, here.