As employees increasingly work from home – by choice or by changes in their industry – organisations face the challenge of providing consistent training. That’s consistency in the content being delivered, as well as offering consistent opportunities to access training for all employees (regardless of location).
Indeed, many organisations now have a ‘remote’ workforce by design. This could be organisations without a typical headquarters, or organisations which have smaller offices in a wide range of locations.
Whether its work at home employees or employees in locations other than where your training team is based, organisations need strategies to train a remote workforce consistently and efficiently. In this article, let’s look at six critical strategies to help train a remote workforce.
Have a single location for training
When you are working remotely, you don’t have the interest or ability to go to multiple locations to find your training. If an employee needs to find PDF documents on the intranet, webinar recordings in a shared folder and online training at an external eLearning store, that’s a massive barrier for that employee to engage in training.
When an employee has confusion simply finding their training, you have a disengagement issue from the start. You also have problems with completion rates, as employees don’t have an easy to way quickly review what they need to do.
Not to mention likely problems with version control. It’s too easy to a manager to try to save time for their staff by emailing a set of slides to their team, except those slides were updated last week, and the manager is emailing the old set. Suddenly teams in different locations are learning different sets of processes or information.
To train a remote workforce, you need a single location for your training. One online training portal where employees can access all their training requirements. It might still be that some training assets are located in PDF documents or webinar recordings, but access to that content should be coordinated through the online training portal to make them easy to find and always focused on the latest version.
Make it easy to access training anywhere
Your online training portal also needs to be easy to access in any location.
- Responsive. Your online training portal, and all its online training modules, need to be fully responsive. This means they support any screen size and device – from large computer monitors to tablets or even mobile phones.
- Cloud-based. Your online training portal should be located in the cloud. This makes it accessible from any web browser and in any location.
- Single-Sign-On enabled. Many organisations utilise a Single-Sign-On (SSO) environment. This means that your employees login once to their computer via their SSO system. The SSO system then manages their login to all other platforms. This eliminates individual passwords for each platform and reduces the friction of accessing content (no need to log into each individual platform). It’s critical your online training platform integrates with your SSO system to eliminate another barrier for employees.
Allow online training enrolments via secure links
When your employees are remote, you will typically be informing them of training via message – it might be via email or perhaps via chat (in platforms like Teams or Slack).
To further improve employee engagement with training, it can be beneficial to include enrolment links in your messaging. These secure URLs allow employees to simply click on the link and be redirected directly into their required training.
Sophisticated online learning platforms, like Tribal Habits, can also trigger enrolments from these links (including setting due dates and sending emails). Tribal Habits can even integrate with your SSO system to use these links to set-up new employees while also enrolling them in training – all from a single link.
Ensure online training is easy to digest
When working remotely, you are under just as much time pressure as when working in an office. When an employee approaches online training, it is critical they understand the commitment they are making at that moment.
For example, if the employee only has 30 minutes until their next webinar chat, it makes a big difference if they can see how long it will take to complete each part of the online training module they are about to start. This allows them to select parts of the module which will fit into their available time. In turn, this prevents them from ‘rushing’ and skipping material as they race to the end, unsure if they might have enough time.
When an employee is ‘trying to get this training done before the next webinar’, their learning outcomes are going to be severely reduced. A better approach is when the employee thinks ‘I can get two these parts done before that next webinar’ and they fully engage in the material.
In Tribal Habits, for instance, every part of every module has an estimated time to complete, which is automatically generated by the platform. This easily allows employees to assess their available time and make good decisions on what content to engage in now…and when to return later to continue their learning.
Allow social learning among online training
One of the key advantages of face-to-face training is the social learning which occurs between participants. In comparison, most online training feels isolated.
If possible, you should look for opportunities to allow social learning in your online training modules. For example, in Tribal Habits, you can activate Reflection Questions which enable employees to review thoughts and lessons from their colleagues through each module.
Tribal Habits can also utilise live surveys to share aggregated results between employees or allow employees to contribute (and vote on) new ideas in each module.
These social learning opportunities build a sense of shared discovery and build engagement among employees as they reflect on the actions of their peers.
Integrate online and virtual training processes
Online training and virtual training are like bread and butter, chocolate and orange, cheese and crackers. They go together perfectly.
- Online training excels at the consistent delivery of knowledge, at a pace which can be adjusted to suit each employee. It’s low-cost, interactive and can be tackled in bite-sized pieces.
- Virtual training (webinars) excels at group discussion. Virtual training allows employees to ask questions, check scenarios or apply their knowledge in new situations.
When they are combined, online training can provide the theory while virtual training can address the application. They are a powerful combination when used in this manner and, together with social learning activities in your online modules, can help replicate the benefits of a workshop without any of the travel costs.
Promote training successes
When you are working remotely, you often don’t appreciate the impact of training on your colleagues or the organisation. Managers, therefore, need to work harder to share those successes.
Ideally, your online training platform should capture both quantitative and qualitative results from employees which can be readily shared among remote teams.
The information shared with your team should be more than just completion rates too. You should promote on-the-job outcomes, implementation stories, key lessons identified by learners, how learners are overcoming key hurdles, and so on.
Aim to inspire your learners, not just inform them.
Taking the time to train a remote workforce
When employees are physically together, training becomes easier. You pick up tips by listening to your peers; spontaneous discussion occurs with colleagues, face-to-face training can be quickly organised in team meetings and information can be physically distributed to everyone.
When its time to train a remote workforce, keep in mind that distance removes these natural moments of learning. However, with just a little effort and a modern online learning platform, you can provide an equally beneficial training environment for workers in any location!