Learning & Development

Transferring Public Learning Opportunities to the Virtual World

The transition from working on-site to working remotely in the COVID era has changed the workplace in myriad ways. One of the most obvious impacts has been the lack of in-person group time.

remote learning
Editorial credit: Girts Ragelis / Shutterstock.com

While telecommunications technologies have been a savior for many companies and allow them to mimic much of in-office life in a virtual format, many elements simply don’t translate well. In these cases, managers should think carefully about what their teams might be missing in a virtual environment and look for ways to bring those elements to the virtual setting.

The Value of ‘Teachable Moments’

So-called “teachable moments” are a great example of this. In a physical office, with an entire team working in the same area, it’s easy to leverage the experience of one employee as a learning opportunity for the entire team. This could be something positive, like exceptional customer feedback, or something negative, like an order that was processed incorrectly.

When these things happen in the office, the manager can have an ad hoc huddle to debrief the rest of the team and discuss lessons learned.

In a virtual setting, this is much harder to do. For one, the manager generally can’t physically see who’s available for this kind of informal discussion. Moreover, the subject might not seem significant enough to schedule a meeting on everyone’s calendar for a few minutes, and the moment is often simply lost.

Online Opportunities for ‘Teachable Moments’

Instead of losing these teaching opportunities, managers can retain them with a simple strategy: Schedule time to discuss teachable moments during regular team meetings—which, by the way, are incredibly important with a remote workforce.

Depending on the complexity of the situation, an employee or a team could be asked to prepare some discussion points or visuals to explain what happened to the rest of the group. As is the case with negative employee experiences or consequences, discretion is advised—the idea isn’t to shame someone for mistakes.

With the shift to remote work, much of what defined office life in the physical office has been replaced by virtual stand-ins. But there is also a great deal that has been lost or at least shelved.

Teachable moments based on on-the-job experiences are a great example. This doesn’t mean these elements are irrecoverable, however. It just means that managers need to take a more conscious and deliberate approach to incorporating them.