Episode 268: What Learning & Talent Development Looks Like For a Remote Workforce

As HR leaders, we’ve been having conversations about supporting remote workforces for some time now. While larger percentages of employees have been working from home over the past several years, the global pandemic in March of 2020 really threw us into the deep end when it comes to shifting to a virtual workforce. While we don’t know exactly what the new normal will be, we do know that our companies and HR teams must incorporate communicating with remote employees into hiring, onboarding, performance reviews, and training and development. How can we recreate the in-person training experience in the virtual space? How do we do it without giving up elements of our company culture? How do we keep employees and teams connected and engaged?

Episode 268: What Learning & Talent Development Looks Like For a Remote Workforce with Matt Brown (@mwbdawg)

I talked with Matt Brown, Vice President, Learning and Brand Success at Schoox, an agile learning and talent development platform, to get his thoughts on these questions and more.

Matt said that his HR background didn’t begin on a traditional path. “I have always been passionate about creating meaningful interactions in many areas of my life…I started as a project manager, as a problem solver, but found that I kept focusing on the development of my team and not just the project.” After having an epiphany that he could be great at HR, Matt went to his company HR department and began taking on training responsibilities under the HR umbrella. 

“If you know you have a passion in a certain area, make it known so you can find ways to tap into it.” - @mwbdawg #WorkologyPodcast #HR #Training Click To Tweet

I asked Matt how he sees development and training fit into remote learning. “The first thing I saw happen was this transition that a lot of companies have not been comfortable with remote workforce for years and didn’t have strategies for remote learning. As everything became disrupted, learning became critical. We had to teach people how to work remotely, and teach it remotely. Learning and development really played that firefighter role early in the pandemic.” 

As months passed, Matt said, “we really had to find ways to keep employees on their career development paths, involved in training, engaged…it has been a challenge.” 

“I have consistently heard businesses share success stories about productivity going through the roof once their employees were working from home, as well as employees who have wanted to work remotely for a long time – but it was a bit different from what they expected.”

HR is facing some really unique challenges ahead in retaining a workforce that is used to working remotely when we do decide to return to an office environment. 

HR as a Leader for Training and Development

I asked Matt what the key is to taking our in-person training and translating it into remote activities, what HR should be thinking about as we continue these efforts. “First and foremost, it starts with being flexible and not being held captive to convention. We have so many tools and technology available to us today and they’re a huge benefit in supporting developmental activities remotely, but we have to understand how to use them and how to communicate to our workforce,” said Matt. “Mental health is a critical component as we go forward as remote workforces and hybrid workforces. We have to stay attuned to how our employees are feeling, if they are too isolated.”

“What we need to ask is: How can we help you develop and how can we move obstacles out of your way so you can meet your goals?” - @mwbdawg #WorkologyPodcast #HR #Training Click To Tweet

“We’re all adapting to this and it is becoming more regular in our lives, but I feel more connected to people in my workforce as a virtual organization than I did when I was working remotely and many of my counterparts were in office. Better relationships, even though we’re not seeing each other in person, are absolutely possible.”

What should we be doing to maintain a culture of learning? “It comes down to being willing to explore anything,” said Matt. “From tools to processes, making sure we’re integrating skills and competencies into the learning strategies, having insight into what works and what doesn’t, it all allows us to focus on creating a long-term plan. In many cases that means getting out of our own way and being open to all possibilities.” 

I asked Matt about learning and development metrics – how do we measure talent development and align it to our business goals and strategies? “So many times I hear organizations are not focused on measurement as part of their learning strategy, or they’re stuck in a place where they don’t know where to start. When we work with customers, we help them to be more methodical and plan who, where, how they are trying to impact with training – and by how much.”

“We can go deeper into following through with training as an extension to measure on the job training experience in which you can identify that certain tasks are directly related to certain skills or competency areas, so it gives us a place to record an observation of how the knowledge is applied. We also use a business impact engine that allows us to really understand how learning activities are impacting specific business metrics…you start to visualize using data and see the impact on a particular metric, like compliance or performance scores.” 

None of us have ever worked through a global pandemic and we have to consider the impact of that on our remote workforce as we get close to a year of working virtually. Trying to replicate an in-person training, onboarding, or learning process in a virtual environment can be more challenging than we expected. I’m so glad to have had the opportunity to have Matthew on the podcast today to talk about establishing a culture of learning in the virtual space.

Thank you for joining the Workology Podcast sponsored by Workology. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. 

Connect with Matt Brown.


Matthew Brown on LinkedIn

Matthew on Twitter


Schoox on Twitter

Schoox on LinkedIn

Episode 261: Setting Goals and Engagement for Remote Teams

Will Remote Working Become the New Normal?

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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