A recent study by WFH Research has found that office-based workers spend around 15 additional minutes each week undertaking professional development and learning activities than their remote-based colleagues.

The survey study – which analysed the responses from 2,400 adults who were able to work from home also concluded that their office-based counterparts were spending, on average, 40 more minutes per week mentoring others alongside 25 additional minutes in formal training.

The report noted that organisations need to focus their efforts on providing learning and training needs for their remote workers to encourage ‘inclusivity and equal opportunities’.

How HR and L&D teams can make learning effective for all was a crucial component considered. It was accepted that – with the evolution of the workplace – there would need to be a greater focus on ‘agile ways of working’ and a need to ‘embrace new technology’ in organisational learning design.

In summary of the findings, it was noted that a ‘cohesive strategy to capture knowledge, standardise training content, ensure it is engaging to both new and experienced colleagues, and regularly review the materials at all levels – and in all departments – is key to successful companies. When we see this as a culture, it tends to lead to success with a shared ethos and collective drive towards organisational goals’.

In a recent article – published by the HR Director – Adrian Harvey, CEO of Elephants Don’t Forget, critically looked at the challenges employers and employees are facing with regards to remote and hybrid working models, noting that:

Colleague Development Leader at Hastings Direct Insurance, Ben Couldwell, tells us about the impact Clever Nelly has had at Hastings Direct. Watch our testimonial video to find out how they are continuing to build on colleague development month-on-month, with incredible results from the first seven months in competency improvements and related KPIs.

“We’ve been using Nelly now for seven months and it is taking us from strength-to-strength, month-on-month. So, the development that we are seeing in our colleagues and the engagement levels is just continuing to grow.

Culture and employee competency is extremely important to us at Hastings Direct, especially in the roles that we do: helping people to become better every single day. Nelly has given us some real tangible data that we can use to support those conversations.

The Management Information we get back from what Nelly tells us is based on how our handlers are answering their questions, and it is vitally important to help us grow. It’s really helping us to forge the way forward in how we train, coach and develop our individuals.

The implementation of Nelly for us was smooth and seamless. A very strong and positive experience. Our relationship with Sophie [our Account Director] has just been great from day one; we couldn’t have asked for anymore.

For me, I would recommend Clever Nelly to anybody – any company, no matter how small or large – because the benefits and gains we have seen from it have just been invaluable.”

Ben Couldwell, Colleague Development Leader at Hastings Direct

“The challenge employers face today is a near-perfect storm and, unless employers materially up their game regarding employee training and welfare, this situation is only going to get worse. The reality is that – thanks to Covid-19 – the world of work has moved on at a pace that very few employers have been able to keep up with.


Hybrid working and Work from Home (WFH) being perhaps the most significant seismic shifts. Whereas in the past, most (perhaps 70%) of in-role competency was developed “on-the-job” through peer-to-peer learning, modern workplaces are now starved of this vital component. In a hybrid model – where employees are in the office just two days per week – the opportunity to learn from their peers is now reduced to 40%. This also assumes that their tenured colleagues – with all the workplace knowledge and competence – are actually working in the office on the same days. Mathematically, they won’t always be, so the peer-to-peer learning opportunity is further diluted.


If a recruit is 100% WFH then the opportunity for peer-to-peer learning is (in the majority of instances) exclusively digital and usually limited to Slack, Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Better than nothing, but far less effective than face-to-face. This peer-to-peer learning dilution is compounded by the fact that many firms have – for many years – been engaged in a “race to the bottom” in respect of workplace training costs. “Get them trained as quickly and cheaply as possible”, being the mantra. This looks great in the annual budget round, but many firms have – in the process – lost sight of the objective of the exercise.


The objective is to turn out, role-ready, super-competent and confident employees. The reality in many cases is the complete opposite. The training isn’t competency-focussed – it is far too theoretical and, therefore, recruits fail to translate this theory into workplace competence.This is particularly true in the case of “required learning” which we associate with regulated markets. All too frequently the training is heavily theoretical and doesn’t require the learner to demonstrate competence but rather complete a short-term memory test at the end of a training module, e.g., Customer Vulnerability.


Even when employers do think through the onboarding process and invest in grad bays and academies, much of what is taught is rapidly forgotten, and, without more experienced and competent peers around to help recruits course-correct, much of the hard work and investment is wasted.

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