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Game-based Learning, Employee Engagement, and Remote Work

In this relatively new era of remote and hybrid work, businesses (much like higher education institutions) are facing an engagement crisis. With employees scattered across different locations, time zones, and home office setups, the traditional tools of team building and motivation fall short. Zoom fatigue, isolation, and disconnect are new workplace buzzwords, and leaders of all industries are scrambling to find solutions. 

But what if the answer to the engagement puzzle was hiding in plain sight, in the thing we did best as children – play? Today, we’ll explore how game-based learning can help businesses boost engagement, foster connection, and drive performance in the age of remote and hybrid work. Get ready to see your workplace in a whole new light!

via Giphy

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Navigating the New Normal: Remote Work Challenges and Opportunities

The rapid shift to remote work has been a game-changer, quite literally. While remote work has opened up new possibilities, like accessing a global talent pool and offering employees unprecedented flexibility, it’s also introduced a unique set of challenges for employees and employers. As highlighted in a recent Training Industry article, the home office environment is a far cry from the traditional workplace. Distractions abound, from attention-seeking pets to the siren song of household chores. Not to mention the technical difficulties – spotty WiFi, anyone?

However, as a superhero’s wise uncle might say, with great challenges come great opportunities. The article goes on to spotlight how game-based microlearning is practically tailor-made for the remote work reality. By serving up bite-sized, engaging learning experiences that can be accessed anytime, anywhere, this approach empowers employees to weave skill-building into their workday, asserts author Laila Innus. Suddenly, that 15-minute gap between meetings becomes a chance to level up, turning dead time into a springboard for growth.

Building Bridges: How Games Foster Connection and Collaboration

If there’s one thing that remote work has taught us, it’s that human connection is precious. Without the serendipitous encounters and casual chats that office life provides, it’s all too easy for remote workers to feel siloed. But what if there was a way to bridge those distances, to create a sense of shared experience, no matter where team members are located?

According to former Head of Innovation and Creativity at Disney, Duncan Wardle, games have a remarkable ability to tap into our fundamental human needs and desires. “Game-based learning, when played with your colleagues, works both in-person and remotely because it recognizes employees’ innate human traits, taps into them and meets them where they are,” he writes. By creating a space for friendly competition, collaborative problem-solving, and shared victories, game-based learning can help remote teams forge the kind of connections that might otherwise be lost in the virtual void.

For example, imagine a remote sales team, scattered across different time zones, coming together to compete in a virtual product knowledge quiz show. Or picture a group of customer service reps teaming up to tackle a simulated client challenge, working together to craft the perfect response. These shared experiences, even when they happen through a screen, can be incredibly powerful in fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie. As Wardle puts it, “Game-based training can help bridge that isolation gap and create a space to foster community and collaboration.” In an era where watercooler moments are scarce, games can be the glue that helps keep remote teams connected.

The Motivational Magic of Game-based Learning

That said, what is it specifically about games that make them such potent tools for engagement and learning? The answer lies in the science of motivation – which Kate Birch explores this in her article for Business Chief. It all comes down to the brain’s pleasure center, and the powerful cocktail of endorphins and dopamine that games can trigger.

Think about the last time you got utterly absorbed in a game, whether it was a casual mobile puzzle or an immersive video game adventure. Chances are, you were experiencing the peculiar alchemy of challenge, reward, and progress that games so expertly provide. As Birch explains, “Taking part in challenges or competing to win a skills badge, say, can improve employees’ retention, expand their knowledge, and promote cooperation across organizations.”

By tapping into these fundamental human drives, game-based learning creates an intrinsically motivating environment where employees engage with learning not because they have to, but because they want to. Suddenly, training isn’t a chore, but an exciting opportunity to test one’s skills and see tangible progress. During the workday, where motivation can be hard to come by, this kind of engaging, game-like approach can be a real game-changer.

The Frontier of Remote Learning: VR, AR, and the Metaverse

If game-based learning is the present of remote training, then virtual reality, augmented reality, and the metaverse are the future. These cutting-edge technologies are poised to take the inherently engaging power of games to a whole new level.

Visualize a virtual conference room where remote team members can come together as avatars, collaborating on projects as if they were in the same physical space. “VR technology creates a sense of presence by immersing team members in virtual environments. Once everyone is in one room, they can collaborate as if they were in the same physical location. Team members can make a physical connection — shake hands, create 3D objects and share observations.” writes Yogini Joglekar in an article for Chief Talent Officer article.

But the possibilities don’t stop there. Joglekar also notes that VR and AR can also enable entirely new modes of experiential learning, from virtual simulations to realistic scenario-based training. For instance, with VR a remote customer service team could practice their skills in a hyper-realistic virtual call center, or a distributed sales force could role-play client interactions in a simulated showroom. By creating low-stakes environments where employees can learn by doing, these technologies help learners feel less intimidated, less afraid of failure, and more empowered to experiment with different techniques to hone their skills.

In today’s workplace, engagement, connection, and continuous learning are more important than ever. By creating intrinsically engaging learning environments, fostering social connection and collaboration, and leveraging cutting-edge technologies like VR and AR, game-based learning is redefining what’s possible in remote training and development!

Our team of game-based learning experts is passionate about creating experiences that drive real results for workplaces of all kinds. Whether you’re looking to boost employee engagement, foster collaboration, or take your training to the next level, we’re here to help. Ready to unlock the power of game-based learning for your workforce? Let’s talk!

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