Remote working has become the norm thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns. And remote managers had to quickly adapt to remote learning for an efficient employee training process.
But how do you optimize your learning content for maximum productivity and outcome?
What are some remote training best practices for businesses?
In this article, we’ll cover the top eight best practices for training remote employees. We’ll also look at five actionable tips to optimize your remote training session.
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8 remote training best practices for your business
Successful remote online training is cost-effective, time-saving, and highly scalable. The training session and materials can be re-utilized for new hires.
Here are the top remote training best practices to achieve that for your business:
1. Choose the appropriate training model for your team
Remote training models can be quite versatile. And as such, you may not need to include all of them in your training. As a manager, you can first try out the different models and implement the ones that work best for your team.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the various training models:
A. Synchronous learning
A synchronous learning model is when all the remote workers simultaneously participate in a virtual online classroom training at a fixed time each day.
Your trainees will need to spare some time during a designated time slot each day for training. This training method is suitable when all the trainees are in a similar time zone and can participate together.
B. Asynchronous learning
Asynchronous employee training is when the learners access the learning material, resources, and assessments at their own pace. This remote training program is often referred to as a ‘self-paced’ model, and learners don’t need to attend the training sessions in real-time.
C. Blended learning
The blended learning style combines asynchronous and synchronous learning for a more flexible solution. Blended learning can incorporate complex remote learning objectives such as employee engagement and interaction.
These can be achieved through a combination of e-learning methods like online courses, virtual training, or webinar sessions (synchronous) and pre-recorded videos or employee discussions via a Q&A discussion board (asynchronous). This takes place through a Learning Management System (LMS).
2. Embrace the right technology
With the plethora of tools available in the market, it can be difficult to choose the right ones for your team’s needs.
For starters, you can use a free communication tool like Zoom or Google Hangouts for video conferencing or live-stream lectures. Your office Microsoft Teams or Slack channel can be very effective for synchronized communication.
You can also invest in remote training software or a Learning Management System (LMS).
These tools can help you plan, implement and deliver your remote workforce training programs with ease. These are particularly helpful for large organizations.
With an LMS, you can:
- Plan, create, edit, and store content online.
- Add remote employees and grant them access to your training materials.
- Track the progress of any particular remote learner across the organization.
- Test the trainees’ knowledge with regular assessments.
- Host online Q&A sessions.
3. Include essential skills as a part of the training
When designing a remote training program, a common mistake is only focusing on the more complicated modules related to your task/project progress. Instead, it is very important to start with the basics.
Here are the essential topics you need to include in your training:
A. Time and distraction management
One of the most crucial skills as a remote worker is effective time management.
In addition to setting company work hours and schedules, you will need to train your employees on how to handle distractions and remain productive throughout their remote working hours.
Encourage the use of deep work strategies and turn off non-work alerts during work hours. You can also use remote working software to reduce distractions. This is where an employee productivity management software like Time Doctor can help you!
Time Doctor offers detailed insights into how your employees work. Their productivity reports and distraction alerts can be helpful in managing remote employee workflows. With access to all the documented time-tracking data, you can implement the necessary changes on the employee and company levels.
Take a free Time Doctor trial today to boost productivity across the board! (No credit card required)
According to a 2020 Buffer study, over 20% of employees struggle with communication and collaboration when working remotely. So, it’s best to ensure that your employees are trained on transparent communication within teams.
Create step-by-step guides on using the communication and training platform and the acceptable etiquette when using chat, video, or audio calls.
C. Basic IT skills
Before you move on to the technical training, ensure that your employees are familiar with the basic IT skills. Include a module on the most common problems, troubleshooting them, accessing resources and databases, etc.
You should also include a brief guide on your company’s software needs.
Include things like the various software your company uses, how to operate them, how to troubleshoot issues with access or permissions, and who to contact in case of any doubts.
D. Stress management
Contrary to on-site work, where employees can turn to a fellow team member for help, remote work can be challenging to handle on your own. So, providing stress management training and a proper support channel is very important during remote onboarding.
Another helpful tip is to create a sense of community within your remote organization.
Develop strategies for a better employee experience, such as guided meditations and general mental health awareness sessions.
Most importantly, prioritize employee well-being and educate your staff on managing their stress levels. You can conduct physical and mental health sessions and send byte-sized tips on stress management during work hours.
4. Standardize your communication channels
One of the most significant challenges of remote work is incomplete communication. So it’s important to standardize all means of communication in a remote work environment.
You can start by creating a communication etiquette guide.
It should cover:
- Acceptable hours to send work-related messages.
- Response time on email, chats, etc.
- What to do if you don’t receive a response.
- Emergency contact information and when to use it.
- The right channels for exchanges (dedicated chat groups for each project, casual office conversations, email for official information, video conferences for final decisions, etc.).
- Finally, the expected level of professionalism on each communication channel.
You can create a communication plan for your company, with standardized email templates and automated processes. For example, create a sample email for your weekly client reports with the required data.
A dedicated communication channel for feedback and doubts can also help, making it easier for employees to practice clear communication.
You can also include brief information on who to contact in different situations during an onboarding process of a remote employee.
For example, each new hire can be assigned a co-worker they can rely on in case of any doubts. This can help them better adapt to the office environment and various work and non-work-related social conventions.
5. Make the training more accessible
In an in-office scenario, employees can reach out to the IT team or co-workers for any issues with access to resources. But virtual training makes it difficult to ask for help from people you haven’t met.
A simple solution is to make your training as accessible as possible.
Employees should know how to access all the training material, the appropriate hours to access them, and whether you provide additional resources.
Remote managers can also include the following features to make their remote workforce training more accessible:
- Flexible, real-time access across all time zones (asynchronous learning).
- Mobile-friendly training apps that can be accessed on a number of devices (iOS and Android).
- Downloadable course material that can be saved on your device.
Additionally, ensure that employees can keep note of their feedback and queries through a discussion board. You can then appoint a facilitator towards the end of the sessions who offers help to the trainees.
6. Implement gamification
Gamification is a training technique that involves applying game design principles, theories, and strategies to a non-gaming context to incentivize better performance.
For example, managers can include a leaderboard system and quizzes within their training modules, and employees can compete for points, badges, or even awards. This encourages healthy competition between your employees, and you can simultaneously reward them for their effort.
This technique increases employee engagement, motivation, and productivity when applied to remote training models. Gamification can also be used to set achievable goals for remote employees.
7. Document all progress
In many ways, documenting the effectiveness of your remote training program can help you improve your systems.
For starters, it helps you gauge the learning retention of your training module. You can monitor how your employees react to the training methods, whether it is helping them, and what parts are difficult to adjust to.
Accurate documentation of your employees’ progress and doubts can also help you build better training programs in the future. You can inculcate feedback about any sections that feel too complicated or fast-paced, and then modify those for future training.
8. Create and define a support process
Once you’ve ensured that everything is in place, your employees will be all set to start working remotely.
But even so, there’s a chance that some may experience burnout symptoms at some point.
So, it’s important to have a support process in place to motivate and help these employees. You could assign a mentor/manager for each new employee or provide regular check-ins to ensure they’re not overwhelmed.
Another best practice is to have a general company FAQs module up on your company website. You can also use technology to aid with employee engagement and make your remote team feel a sense of community within the organization.
5 actionable tips for successful remote training
Sometimes, training remote employees can be daunting, and you may face many challenges when starting out.
Fortunately, these tips can help you optimize your training program and manage new hires.
1. Organize and plan things in advance
A consistent and well-planned schedule reduces the risk of any setbacks you may face during the training due to a lack of planning. Employees are also more likely to respond positively to an effective and transparent training schedule, yielding higher remote employee attendance.
2. Encourage a learning culture
Remote employee training requires more effort on the employer’s part to engage their trainees.
Inculcate a positive, continuous learning attitude within teams. Encourage them to ask questions and reach out for help, and provide all the necessary resources they might need.
3. Always start with an orientation
When onboarding employees, it’s important to introduce them to the company’s culture and work processes. Ensure you inform them about your expectations from the training and set some ground rules. Be sure to provide sufficient remote instruction on how they should go about their doubts and training needs.
4. Engage learners and offer regular check-ins
When you’re done with online learning sessions, make sure you’re available for Q&A sessions, and any doubts employees may have.
If you’ve adopted a blended learning approach, create dedicated communication channels to engage employees and help them get their doubts resolved.
5. Foster a communal, more interactive workspace
Finally, it’s very important for your employees to feel like they belong. Creating a supportive and encouraging remote work environment motivates employees to be more productive and participate in more work activities.
Designing and planning training strategies that work for your remote employees is very important. Not only does effective training affect your employees’ remote learning outcomes, but it also influences and sets a pattern for how your employees will work remotely.
That’s why, as a business owner, you need to keep up with the latest best practices and implement them in your organization.
Remember to use effective remote training tools for maximum output. Go through the practices and tips we covered here for a successful remote learning experience.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.