The problem with losing 'osmosis learning' - Deepstash
The problem with losing 'osmosis learning'

The problem with losing 'osmosis learning'

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The power of observation

The power of observation

Observing and chatting with colleagues helps us gain valuable knowledge. Employers recognize how important it is to enable workers to learn from each other, on an ongoing, informal basis.

Popular learning models have tended to suggest that 20% of our learning about a job comes from observing others, although newer research suggests that figure could be even higher. 

Of course, everyone needs formalized training when they join a team, on things like software or legal processes. But there are also the less obvious things to learn, like how do you fix that error message that pops up all the time? Who is the most helpful person in the IT team? Is it OK to wander over to the marketing team for a chat? Why do we work with this company but not that one?


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Why intentionality matters

The truth is once you’re in a physical place, osmosis tends to happen because you’re sitting near someone. Organizations may need to work harder to ensure their employees do continue to learn from each other. 

  • One solution is to leave less learning to chance You can’t just expect everyone to be in the office and somehow osmosis happens. You've got to intentionally design space differently, you’ve got to intentionally design proximity differently and thirdly you’ve got to intentionally design encounters.
  • Ensure that people have the encounters critical to meaningful learning rather than leaving them to chance. When you're going to a board meeting, make sure you take a junior person along’. These are incredibly important ways of learning.


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Osmosis learning in the post-pandemic workplace

As we emerge from the pandemic and begin to adjust to how workplaces have changed, whether by embracing different forms of hybrid or allowing far more staff to work remotely, we will of course depend more on technology to interact with our colleagues.

Recent technological developments have revolutionized how well we can work and also socialize with our colleagues.


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An office isn’t really a physical location, it’s a place of connectivity.



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Putting an end to the “happenstance” of learning

This means building a system that really thinks about what knowledge each worker needs for the job they’re doing, who they need to spend time with to gain it, and how that knowledge can be shared even more widely, so everyone benefits – wherever they are working.


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