Access to a global network of information has become something we can’t live without. The Internet enables us to be more self-sufficient — and yet more dependent at the same time.
Smartphones are like security blankets, with 65% of digital natives reporting that they carry their devices from room to room with them. We feel safer knowing we have access at our fingertips to any information or people we need. We don’t need to know it all; our phone does.
In a Pew Research social networking study, 72% of adults online reported that they use social media. In fact, use of all social platforms has dramatically increased since 2012.
Technology has not only changed how we consume information, it’s also defining how we learn. Companies will need to rethink how their employees are taught new skills in light of the ideals of the changing workforce.
Here are a few trends transforming learning in the workplace.
1. Silos broken by social media
The up-and-coming generation is often described as “collaborators,” in contrast to generations before, which Kenan-Flagler refers to as the “cowboys.”
Cowboys value working individually and a command-and-control approach to management. Collaborators, on the other hand, have grown up alongside the Internet and all of its connective benefits. They are used to the thoughts and opinions of others. Collaboration in the workplace comes more naturally to them.
When it comes to learning, they’d rather not silo up and go at it alone. They want to crowdsource tips and advice from their peers. Social communication tools will lead to the downfall of hierarchical barriers and department silos within an organization.
2. Collective knowledge sharing
With the widespread use of social communication tools, employees will feel more empowered than ever to share knowledge indiscriminately in lieu of traditional exclusive trainer-trainee relationships.
Throughout the years, we’ve seen video tutorials pop up on channels like YouTube, how-tos on Pinterest and “expert” guides on blogs.
People love to learn from others just as much as they like to teach others and be considered “experts” on topics.People love to learn from others just as much as they like to teach others and be considered “experts” on topics.
As a result, people are now accustomed to learning through the collective knowledge of others online. Crowdsourcing learning from a large network of people online for specific skills is a trend workplaces should hone. For managers, using the collective knowledge from other employees to train new hires means less effort in on-boarding.
3. Virtual face-to-face interaction
Realizing that what makes employees tick influences employee engagement, researchers are now spending more time delving into behavioral analytics in the workplace. Using wearable technology to sense motion and voice levels, companies can now measure the impact various stimuli have on employee happiness and productivity.
Through this method, Cubist recently discovered face-to-face interactions reduced stress and improved productivity among employees. Findings from similar studies administered by the new startup Sociometric Solutions are inspiring companies to host daily social coffee breaks and encourage employees to eat lunch with one another.
If face-to-face interaction has such powerful effects on employee productivity and happiness, it could no doubt help employee learning and development. Though the majority of future learning will take place through an Internet-enabled device, we should not leave behind the power of face-to-face interactions.
The solution? Face-to-face interactions through video chat. Video chat use has grown through the years — now 21% of users connect with others via video on their smartphones. With a digital device such as a smartphone, we can connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime, removing previous communication limitations and enabling virtual face-to-face interaction on demand.
4. Cloud storage
Already widely used among major companies, cloud storage enables content management in a way previous systems could not. In a recent study, executives noted the key benefits of cloud storage: 63% say disaster recovery, 51% say centralized data management and 44% say cost savings.
This trend will enable managers to retrieve important documents faster through search functions as well as set access permissions. All employees will have access to company documents without the need to ask a busy manager or another employee, empowering them to be more autonomous on the job.
The Internet today is a basic need for most people — it has changed all aspects of learning, from the way we complete routine tasks to our ability to connect with others from a distance. As technology trends continue to influence learning, the workforce will need to adapt.