Best Practices For Training Remote Employees

Jan 10, 2022 - Dom Barnard

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the working climate from in-person to online work to keep employers and employees connected at all times.

As a result, many companies have found themselves conducting their training initiatives remotely to develop and improve the capabilities and competencies of their staff. However, with the ever-changing digital landscape, most organisations have a hard time effectively training remote employees.

This guide takes an in-depth look at training remote employees and some of the best practices you can implement in your company to train your remote staff successfully.

Training remote employees

Working from home has become the new normal, and most organisations have been forced to adopt a remote training model with no preparation or lead time. Unfortunately, this quick response to a crisis presents numerous challenges, including:

  • Lack of face-to-face supervision
  • Technical challenges such as unstable VPN connections or internet
  • Distractions in the home, especially for employees who don't have a dedicated house office space
  • Feelings of social isolation and a general lack of motivation
  • Problems accessing training information

Granted, some problems such as technical challenges may be unavoidable as there's no way to guarantee that your staff won't experience technical issues. But, you still need to plan and organise remote employee training correctly to overcome these challenges and ensure training success.

Whether it's your first time training remote employees or you've run a few remote training sessions, it's imperative to learn the correct practices and be flexible to change.

Best practices for training remote employees

To help you overcome the challenges of training remote employees, we've compiled a list of best practices below that you can follow to set your company up for success.

1. Choose a delivery method that works for your team

The first thing organisations think of when training remote employees is conducting online meetings, which is a form of synchronous learning. While there's nothing wrong with this, it's not the only remote training delivery method available.

There are many choices, and what you choose varies depending on your team and what suits them. Remember, remote staff are human beings with lives outside of work, and factoring this in can help create a great culture of remote working.

Here's a quick breakdown of effective remote training methods you can implement:

Synchronous learning

In synchronous learning, all staff participate in the training activity simultaneously. This means there's a single slot time when the teaching sessions occur, requiring careful planning to ensure everyone can virtually attend the lesson.

Asynchronous learning

In contrast, asynchronous learning occurs when employees access learning material, content and assessments and participate in activities in their own time. This type of training requires results in the form of course completion scores or status after a certain deadline.

Blended learning

This is a customised form of training that takes elements from both synchronous and asynchronous learning to create the ideal training solution for your company.

2. Invest in the right training tools and resources

Never run a remote training session using only Skype as your communications platform, PowerPoint to create the training and an Excel spreadsheet to track learner attendance. You're not only setting yourself up for a sub-par experience and results but also making life and the training extremely difficult.

The best remote training sessions require some investment in the correct tools to get the job done right the first time. These tools and resources increase employee efficiency and satisfaction while reducing overall training costs.

At a minimum, you'll need:

  • Conferencing and webinar platforms such as Zoom, Larksuite and Webex
  • A learning management system (LMS)
  • eLearning authoring tool
  • Project management and communication tools

The importance of training tools and resources cannot be underestimated as they allow you to track progress, collaborate and assess the effectiveness of the training.

3. Be prepared

Preparing for your remote training program is vital in preventing problems or hiccups that might slow down the training process. It also ensures everyone knows exactly what and when to do, which helps prevent the build-up of stress and anxiety that comes with uncertainty.

When it comes to preparation, start by setting short-term goals and creating a plan that helps everyone stay focused. Setting goals give you something to work towards while keeping your learners motivated.

Next, prepare learning materials, checklists and presentations well in advance. You'll have to pick a delivery method first before doing this to ensure your training content and assessments align with the training program. You can then make a consistent and effective training schedule, taking into account the daily lives of your staff.

Virtual meeting with 4 people on video

Before commencing the training sessions, ensure your virtual meeting solution is up and running and works well. For example, is the audio and video quality okay? Is the software user-friendly, easy to use and easy to integrate with current systems? Familiarising yourself with all the hardware and software systems beforehand ensures you can manage problems and find solutions early on.

Lastly, ensure you have access to IT support if any technical problems occur during training sessions.

4. Conduct an orientation

If you want your training session to run smoothly and effectively, carry out an orientation before starting any lessons. Here, you'll explain how everything works to your employees, including all the software systems you're using, and run through all the available functions.

Encourage your staff to ask questions and clarifications during the orientation to prevent frequent interruptions of "how do I…" during the actual remote training.

It's important to note that not all employees are fast learners, and some may have difficulty learning how to use certain technologies. So, it's vital to be patient during the orientation process while ensuring every software and hardware you use is simple and provides pain-free access.

This is also the time to establish ground rules with your learners to avoid chaos. Some great housekeeping suggestions include:

  • Keep microphone on mute when not speaking
  • To comment, ask a question or request clarification, use the raise hand feature and await a response
  • If you lose access to the course, use the chat feature with the facilitator to get help
  • Put mobile phones on mute when not speaking

All in all, ensure your orientation is thorough and detailed so that your learners understand.

5. Engage learners

While training remote employees offer numerous benefits such as savings on costs, it has its own pitfalls. Since learners aren't physically attending any classes, they can easily get distracted, increasing the need to find additional ways to create extra engagement.

For example, you can offer certificates of completion to staff that successfully finish their training programs. This not only engages them in the learning process but also motivates them.

Alternatively, you can use the gamification features in your learning management system like leader boards to keep employee engagement high. Gamifying learning is a tried and tested method that makes learning fun, immersive and interactive. It inspires healthy competition by allowing learners to act to attain a specific reward and surpass their colleagues.

Another way to increase learner engagement is by using video. Videos are the most engaging form of content employees can consume, and it curbs challenges such as isolation by adding a human touch and creating emotional ties between staff.

When learners can see each other and interact with their trainers and other learners, they understand concepts better.

Lastly, encourage collaboration among learners to increase engagement. You can achieve this by conducting group training sessions or creating an online discussion portal, where learners get together and talk to share their understanding or provide feedback.

During this time, keep in touch and check in with your employees by sending surveys relating to the learning materials and employee wellness.

6. Leverage technology

Embracing technology and leveraging it properly in your remote training program is key to successfully improving the skills of your staff. You don't have to use the most complicated technological tools to deliver your training. Simply using resources such as live streams and videos to show steps can go a long way in making your remote training seamless and efficient.

Similarly, by leveraging technology, you're able to document all your training for future use and reference. This way, even if the person in charge of developing training leaves your organisation, you still have a record of courses and resources used in each training session over the years.

When using technology to train remote employees, ensure it can easily be integrated into current systems. This makes it easier to sync information and access multiple learning materials and content simultaneously.

7. Bring in help

With companies being forced to adapt to training employees remotely without adequate preparation, it's essential to get help from experts like the team at VirtualSpeech. Training platforms like these know the most up-to-date training practices and strategies that work to keep employees engaged.

Whether you need co-development services or need entire courses, you're better off working with professionals to increase and maintain the effectiveness of your training program.