Training remote employees is now a vital exercise as working away from the office has increased in both popularity and practicality. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this upward trend has soared even further. 74% of companies now plan to make this method of working a permanent change. With more of us classed as “remote workers” than ever before, now is the time to embrace technology and virtually upskill your team.
The right employee training is important not just for your business goals but also as a way of retaining fulfilled staff. A survey by LinkedIn found that 94% of employees would choose to stay longer with a company that invested in their learning and development. This high statistic shows there is a real value attached to comprehensive professional development.
There are several different ways to set up and run remote training. However, there is no “best” way; it’s all about what suits your team and your processes. This article will help you to maximize your training sessions by providing guidelines and tips. We will also look at overcoming the challenges discussed in the next section.
The Challenges of Training Remote Employees
It might be convenient for your team to work from home, but remote training programs can still prove challenging. Some of the common issues companies encounter include:
- Lack of attention from trainees due to no face-to-face supervision
- Technical challenges including unstable Internet or VPN connections and software or platform issues
- Distractions in the home
- Feelings of social isolation and lack of camaraderie
- Problems obtaining information about the training, or even accessing the training itself
Don’t worry if creating a positive and engaging virtual learning experience seems a little overwhelming. Following our six best practices for remote employee training will help you overcome the challenges and set yourself up for success.
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1. Choose the Delivery Model That Works for Your Team
The key questions to ask are, how well do you know your remote team, and what suits them? It’s important to remember that remote employees are human beings with lives outside of work. Respecting employee time and knowing the boundaries can help to create a great culture of remote work. A productive remote work policy can help with this.
Synchronous learning, such as online meetings where people learn simultaneously, is a popular method of remote training delivery. However, there are other methods. Asynchronous learning is self-paced and involves trainees accessing online learning content at a time to suit them. The blended learning method is a mixture of both, to create a custom solution.
2. Invest in the Right Remote Employee Training Tools
Traditional classroom training methods aren’t effective in today’s digital world. When investing in workforce optimization skills, it is vital to embrace the right technology. Training and development software for remote teams will increase efficiency and employee satisfaction while reducing costs.
Training methods can be simple, such as a pre-recorded podcast, or a little more in depth, such as live webinar training. Most employers choose to have features that enable screen sharing, chat, remote access of each other’s desktops, and the sharing of files. Make sure to take time to thoroughly evaluate which are the best collaboration tools for your remote team.
It’s important to create a well-developed training toolkit. Here are some of the top tools available:
Learning Management Systems
Originally, learning systems consisting of a suite or app were mainly used in educational environments. However, they are now available to any organization wanting to deliver e-learning or online coursework. If you are thinking of opting for this model, consider how to organize your training. Will it be split into modules or months? Will a team webinar be required each time?
Learning Experience Platforms
A learning experience platform is an entire learning portal. It tracks training progress and administers certification like a management system but adds flexibility by combining all of the smaller methods of training. This has many benefits, including giving trainers the chance to tailor materials. It also gives remote trainees the chance to learn according to their own schedule.
Remote Video Training Tools
These training tools are important to add some live interaction. Video conferencing software and hardware can enable you to meet your team virtually, adding the human touch. Just make sure your team has the right equipment to get the most out of it.
It’s a great idea for call center managers to record your training sessions to create a back catalog of videos. These can be shared with those who are unable to attend.
Project Management and Communication Tools
If you already use this type of software, why not repurpose it for training remote employees? Project management and communication tools can be used by employees to track progress, collaborate, and assess the effectiveness of the training.
3. Identify Skills Gaps
From improving digital customer service skills to understanding new product lifecycle management software and everything in between, it pays to identify the skills and knowledge that are lacking. This is known as skills gap analysis. A lack of skills for remote employees can lead to frustration and deficiencies in performance.
Below, we will explain how to discover your remote employees’ training requirements.
Top Tips for Pinpointing Skills Gaps
- Think about your company’s long term goals and KPIs. Do your employees have the skills needed to support business growth?
- Try to gain a clearer picture of how employees are spending their time. If certain employees are taking much longer to complete tasks, could this be due to a skills gap?
- Benchmark top-performing employees as a point of reference to discover lacking skills in others
- Encourage employees to offer feedback, to gain insight into the skills they feel they could improve on
- Conduct employee assessments, quizzes, and polls to uncover gaps in knowledge
4. Be Prepared
Preparation is essential to prevent problems and ensure everyone knows what to do. The following steps should help you to feel less flustered when organizing or delivering remote training:
- Set short-term goals and create a plan to help everyone stay focused
- Make a consistent and effective training schedule
- Focus on communication which explains how trainees should access sessions
- Prepare learning materials, checklists, and presentations well in advance
- Ensure your online meeting solution is up and running and you have familiarized yourself with how it works
- Establish ground rules—general housekeeping, such as keeping microphones muted unless speaking—is essential to avoid chaos
- Ensure you have access to IT support if any problems occur during training sessions
- Don’t forget to send a reminder email a few days before, containing a link to each virtual training session
5. It’s All in the Delivery
Digital collaboration skills need to be practiced just like any other kind of skill. Make sure you have completed a trial run of any training session, to give you the confidence for a smooth delivery. Take a personal approach and display your face clearly if presenting, along with a professional background. A messy or chaotic room can distract from the training content you are trying to deliver.
At the beginning of online training delivery, run through all the available functions, and clearly explain how everything works. This should prevent frequent interruptions of the “How do I…?” variety. Have reasonable expectations, though, particularly if people are joining remote training sessions for the first time.
Try to avoid the delivery of training being peppered with outside distractions. Both trainers and employees should divert their calls during the scheduled training time. ACD, meaning automatic call distribution, is a useful telephony tool to have in place here. It’s also a good idea to close down emails and other windows.
6. Record and Recognize Virtual Learning Results
All remote learning should be documented to assess its effectiveness and to shape future training plans. Giving and asking for feedback is a key part of this process. Take the time to stay online after training sessions to answer questions and address any issues. This will be an effective addition to follow-up emails or surveys. It can be useful to chat when the session is fresh in everyone’s minds.
Don’t forget to reward learning results with certificates or prizes to motivate and engage employees. They are far more likely to stay on track when their efforts are recognized. You could even consider leaderboards or milestones to keep trainees interested.
The last piece of the jigsaw is to track the results of your remote employee training. Exactly how you do this should be tailored to your company’s needs. You may only be interested in course completions but it can be useful to focus on goals, rather than just time spent. Metrics such as assessment scores or completion speed are valuable when determining success.
Look at the wider picture, too. Improving remote employee training may also lead to an increase in productivity or customer satisfaction. This will often be picked up by business intelligence software.
Now Is the Time to Create Your Remote Training Schedule
With remote working swiftly becoming the norm, virtual training is a task that no employer can afford to ignore. Remembering and implementing these six best training practices when training remote employees will help to keep your workforce engaged and your records up to date.
Remember, happy and fulfilled employees are instrumental in increasing productivity and profitability, future-proofing your organization.
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