Nurture Informal Learning in Your Workplace Using Scribe

Maddy Osman, Expert Product Reviewer
August 12, 2022
min read
September 19, 2023
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Informal (aka peer-to-peer) learning in the workplace brings team members together and encourages our best work. Learn how Scribe empowers effective knowledge sharing within teams!
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How to Use Scribe to Nurture Peer-to-Peer, Informal Learning at Work

When’s the last time you Slacked a colleague with a quick question? Yesterday? This morning? As you’re reading this? 

We all have our go-to experts for fast answers at work. One colleague might know every process in your organization — while another might be a wiz at solving technical issues. 

And I’d bet that you’re getting as many questions in return. The thing is, when you have a diverse team of experts, everyone is the go-to person for something. 

We constantly exchange information with our teammates, be it during a scheduled brainstorming session or quick coffee break. Collaborative learning is a major example of what informal training is in the workplace. 

Your organization might have strong employee onboarding and training programs. But that only builds part of an employee’s vocational education. Informal training, including mentorship, peer-to-peer learning and self-study, make up the other part of the puzzle.

According to the 70-20-10 model of learning, employees learn 70 percent from work experiences, 20 percent from interaction with colleagues and 10 percent from formal education programs.

That means an employee’s training is incomplete without informal knowledge sharing within teams. 

Let’s see how Scribe helps you overcome the challenges of collaborative learning to nurture effective informal training in your workplace.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • Formal vs. informal training
  • Benefits of informal learning in the workplace
  • Barriers to informal learning in the workplace
  • How Scribe helps you overcome the barriers to informal training
  • Final thoughts: Nurture informal learning in your workplace using Scribe

Formal vs. informal training

Organizations usually focus on creating formal training programs. Training Magazine’s 2021 survey shows that companies spend an average of $1,071 on training each employee. That includes comprehensive onboarding and continuous learning programs. 

In most organizations, formal learning is well-structured with:

  • Clear objectives.
  • A detailed course plan.
  • Goals/milestones.
  • Assessments.

Formal training may happen in a classroom or within a team. Classroom learning is often trainer-centered, where the trainer decides its direction and content. Formal training within teams happens with a learning schedule and set agenda. 

On the other hand, informal learning is usually pretty spontaneous. It’s when you: 

  • Peak over into the other cubicle.
  • Hop on an offline zoom call with a teammate.
  • Have downtime after running through agenda items. 
  • Ask your manager to send over instructions.

… and really any ad hoc communication you can think of. You might learn about new technology during a virtual happy hour, or be inspired to ask a question at an All Hands call. 

Typical informal learning activities include:

  • Knowledge sharing between peers.
  • Learning from a mentor.
  • On-the-job learning.
  • E-learning through the internet and social media. 

Here are the key differences between formal and informal training in the workplace. 

Differences between formal and informal learning.

Informal, peer-to-peer learning is crucial for a team's success. Let’s go over how an informal learning process can help your team grow and succeed.

Benefits of informal learning in the workplace 

  • Makes learning stress-free and spontaneous. 
  • Empowers employees to learn at their own pace.
  • Helps employees solve issues together.
  • Provides quick solutions to roadblocks. 
  • Builds better relationships within teams.
  • Breaks down knowledge silos.

Makes learning stress-free and spontaneous

Formal training often comes with exams or assessments. It expects everyone to perform at a certain level in evaluations, which could stress out employees. 

Coworkers helping each other offers a much more relaxed learning experience. Informal training often happens when someone needs to know something right away. You can learn a new skill or concept much faster when you ask in the moment. 

Empowers employees to learn at their own pace

People learn at different speeds. A formal learning program expects all participants to grasp ideas at the same pace. In that same vein, there’s no room to go above and beyond the lesson plan. 

On the other hand, informal training within teams happens continuously. Since there aren't any deadlines or pop quizzes, employees can learn whatever, whenever. 

And most importantly, everyone saves time. Newer employees don’t have to wait for their questions to be on the agenda, and subject matter experts can share what they know as they’re doing it. 

Helps employees solve issues together

Harvard Business Review notes that cognitively diverse teams are better at problem-solving. Diverse views and ideas can help teams reach a better solution. 

If your team has a robust peer-to-peer learning culture, coworkers helping each other will come naturally. In fact, team members will get excited to show off their expertise. Encourage an environment where everyone wants to learn and help others learn with them.

 At Scribe, we call this a growth mindset. 

Provides quick solutions to roadblocks

It’s so easy to lose time to one seemingly simple problem. Employees might waste hours running through random Quora threads if they don’t know they can (and should) seek help at work.

That’s one reason why informal training is important — a strong knowledge-sharing culture helps employees reach out to their colleagues when they're stuck.

But you need to walk the walk. Team members will only feel comfortable asking questions if they know their colleagues have the bandwidth to answer them.

And that brings us to another piece of this puzzle. You need to give your subject matter experts the tools and support to share what they know without losing time. By creating an environment that prioritizes peer-to-peer learning, you can structure time and offer solutions that help learners and let your knowledge workers do what they do best… their jobs! 

You can do this by:

  • Creating open forums for questions.
  • Build a robust knowledge base.
  • Take advantage of automations that make sharing fast and easy. 

Builds better relationships within teams

Teams that learn together stay together. Coworkers develop rapport when they help each other learn new skills or solve problems. 

Helping your colleagues and encouraging them to support each other in the workplace creates a positive team environment and boosts everyone’s morale. 

Breaks down information silos

Information silos form when a team’s knowledge sits with a small group of people. While this small group drives the entire team, things can easily crumble. Your knowledge workers can easily fall victim to burnout. And if they leave? All of that critical organizational knowledge goes with them. 

But informal knowledge sharing breaks up these silos and socializes institutional knowledge. Everyone can (and should) have the chance to be an expert. 

Now we know the many benefits of informal learning. Let’s dig into a few hurdles you might run into when creating a culture of informal knowledge sharing. 

Barriers to informal learning in the workplace 

Helping your coworkers learn new skills or solve problems might seem like an obvious effort. But even if people know the importance of informal training and want to share their knowledge, they face some challenges. 

You have to overcome these barriers to create a culture of peer-to-peer learning and collaboration.

Lack of time

You want to help your coworkers, but what if it starts affecting your productivity? According to McKinsey, knowledge workers spend 42 percent of their time on internal collaboration activities. 

That means you might not have enough time to finish your work, which can hurt your productivity.

As a mentor, informal training might cause burnout if you have to:

  • Repeat the same information to many people.
  • Spend a lot of time going over complex processes. 
  • Get distracted by these interruptions throughout the day. 

The lack of effective knowledge-sharing tools will also cut into your time. You might find yourself reluctant to offer informal education to your colleagues.

Remote work environment

It’s easy to lean over your desk and quickly ask your colleague a question. But what if they all work remotely? Explaining things face-to-face is easier than explaining things over a meeting. 

Dr. Helen Hughes, associate professor at the University of Leeds, observes that remote work has affected workplace learning — especially for fresh graduates who enter the workforce. 

Limited social interactions in a remote work environment can also prevent effective knowledge sharing within a team. GitLab’s research shows that the lack of collaboration between team members is the second biggest challenge of remote work. 

Lack of standard operating procedures

You need to be confident about a solution or process to pass it on to a colleague. But what if everyone in your organization does things their own way? 

The lack of standard operating procedures (SOPs)  is a major challenge to informal knowledge sharing. And potentially a dangerous one. Promoting non-standard practices among team members might cause compliance issues or worse. 

Cultural and language barriers

According to psychologist Heidi Grant, 75-90 percent of the help that coworkers give each other starts with one of them asking for it. Team members often refrain from asking for help if:

  • They’re new.
  • The organization has a tight hierarchy.
  • The work setting isn’t a positive learning environment.

Language and cultural barriers can also reduce learning opportunities. 

How Scribe helps you overcome the barriers to informal training 

How Scribe helps you create a smart learning strategy for your team. 

Scribe is the perfect tool to help you train your team members and answer their questions. The tool’s unique features are designed so you can overcome the barriers to peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. 

It only takes a few minutes to install Scribe and start using it.

Scribe helps you quickly create how-to guides

Lack of time is one of the biggest barriers to informal training. It’s also frustrating to explain the same thing to different people. Wouldn’t it be great if you could create knowledge-sharing materials and use them again and again? 

That’s what Scribe helps you do. Scribe makes it easy to create knowledge-sharing material in minutes, such as:

  • Knowledge base articles.
  • Step-by-step guides.
  • SOPs.
  • Quick reference guides.
  • Runbooks 
  • Job aids 
  • Training manuals
  • FAQs 

… and more! 

Scribe Pages empowers you to create comprehensive guides by combining multiple Scribes and content formats like images, videos and hyperlinks. 

Say you want to quickly teach a team member how to add participants to a Zoom meeting. 

You could create a Scribe like this.

And if you have a few different processes surrounding one project? Combine your Scribes in a Page, like this!

Scribe facilitates effective offline learning

Say you’ve created a wiki or article hoping to help your coworkers with offline learning. But your colleagues complain that the material isn’t engaging enough. 

Scribe helps you overcome that challenge by enabling you to create step-by-step guides that mimic that face-to-face knowledge transfer. 

You can make the learning initiative enjoyable by adding GIFs, tips and alerts. The interactive guide will also help your remote colleagues take charge of their own learning. 

Here’s a sample Scribe that shows how to create a SharePoint page.

Document and share your efficient workflows with Scribe

Do you have a file with valuable shortcuts and hacks? It might be a goldmine of information, but your knowledge might remain siloed due to lack of time or tools. 

Scribe empowers you to record your workflow automatically and convert it into a step-by-step guide, ready for sharing. You can share Scribe through:

  • Email.
  • Direct links.
  • Embed into any tool, or knowledge base like Confluence. 

Final thoughts: Nurture informal learning in your workplace using Scribe

Everyone's an expert at something. Share that knowledge with each other to strengthen and empower your team. Informal knowledge sharing promotes teamwork and solves issues faster. 

But you might have challenges while trying to support your colleagues in the workplace, like:

  • Lack of time.
  • Remote working issues.
  • Language and cultural barriers.

Scribe enables you to overcome these barriers and helps nurture an informal peer-to-peer learning culture. Whenever a colleague asks you for help, create a step-by-step guide using Scribe. Doing so not only helps them, but anyone else who may have the same question. 

Are you ready to create your first Scribe? Try it today. It’s absolutely free.

Ready to try Scribe?

Scribe automatically generates how-to guides and serves them to your team when they need them most. Save time, stay focused, help others.