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Will hybrid working satisfy employees’ professional development goals?

By Soffos Team
June 7, 2021

As new industry reports continue to emerge, the data confirms what many of us already knew: flexible working is here to stay.

In the UK, although ‘work from home’ guidance is set to be scrapped later this month, data from PwC suggests that new remote practices have now been firmly embedded into the working culture for many organizations, with a significant number looking to reduce their office portfolio in the future. Meanwhile, in the US, tech giants Apple, Facebook and Google have all unveiled their plans for long-term hybrid work. That said, such events have sparked some spirited debate amongst employees.

Looking beyond the headlines, here at Soffos we were interested to learn more about employees’ views and concerns regarding their professional development. We commissioned an independent survey of 1,235 UK adults in full-time employment, which has already been picked up by the likes of Forbes and Metro.

Significantly, over a third (38%) of the employees surveyed have felt that the pandemic has hindered their opportunities to collaborate with colleagues – and, by extent, learn from those with more experience. Notably, the research also found that a significant number (23%) are worried that they are falling behind their peers where skills and knowledge are concerned.

So where does this leave businesses as they plan for a successful new normal?

Hybrid working shouldn’t mean falling behind

An increased reliance on remote work shouldn’t mean that individuals find themselves with diminished opportunities to ‘learn by osmosis’, so to speak. However, proactive measures must be taken to engage the disparate workforce and ensure that employees have the tools they need to receive continuous training and support.

A further look into the survey reveals that individuals have, to some extent, been dissatisfied with the online learning opportunities provided to them during the pandemic – one third (33%) of the employees surveyed said that they have found online solutions, such as webinars, video conferences and online education courses, to be too generic to aid their professional development. Likewise, 39% of those surveyed felt that their employer ought to invest in more effective online learning tools in the coming 12 months.

Clearly, recent virtual training initiatives have missed the mark. To ensure that workers are progressing in asynchronous settings, new and more innovative solutions are needed. For example, our corporate KnowledgeBot has the ability to conduct a knowledge gap analysis, to ascertain where people and teams might need an extra helping hand to boost their career development.

Following these assessments, Soffos can then prompt learners to engage with learning materials in a Q&A format, wherever their location or whatever the time of day, meaning that dispersed teams shouldn’t hinder their ability to progress in their roles.

Creating new opportunities for collaborative learning

Cutting-edge EdTech platforms should also come with the capability to drive peer-to-peer learning initiatives when staff are apart. Here at Soffos we believe that even as companies look to up their reliance on tech, that collaborative learning will remain vital.

That’s why Soffos has been built with the ability to encourage expert colleagues to consult and ‘buddy up’ with their co-workers, who may be less knowledgeable about certain topics and tasks. The platform promotes real-time engagement and actively contributes to these conversations, assigning workers with their own unique 'confidence score' to identify those who might not be quite ready to help in an advisory capacity. Otherwise, the software will direct employees’ questions to a designated expert, even in an asynchronous or remote capacity.

Although the shift to hybrid work will present a strategic dilemma for the HR departments of many organizations, sustainable success will be about finding unique solutions that create new opportunities for employees to share ideas and grow together. At Soffos, we are passionate about propelling employees to new heights in their career journeys – sign up for our beta version here, or drop us a message to see what we can do for your company.