Working remotely is on the rise and slowly becoming the new normal, which means the need for organizations to provide remote training is also growing. And with 61% of remote employees feeling that they need additional training to perform better in their role, the urgency to provide quality remote training is even more apparent. What exactly is remote training, what are the benefits and challenges of it, and what are the best practices when it comes to successfully training remote employees?
What is remote training?
Remote training is a type of employee training that takes place at a distance, and is a part of learning & development process. It’s aimed at people who work from home or remotely rather than at an office.
Remote training is usually delivered through virtual classes, online courses, podcasts, webinars, and other e-learning tools. This happens synchronously or asynchronously.
Why is there an increasing need for remote training?
The number of remote workers in the next five years is expected to nearly double compared to the pre-pandemic state, with 36.2 million Americans working remotely by 2025. Companies like Dropbox, Spotify, or Slack are letting their employees work remotely forever, while other organizations are adopting hybrid work models.
According to TalentLMS’s remote work survey, 67% of remote workers want more training from their employers. So whether your employees have always been working from home or have recently been left with no alternative, it’s more vital than ever to have a solid structure in place for training remote employees.
Is virtual training different from remote training?
Virtual training’s key difference is that it refers to training done in a virtual or simulated environment, aiming to create a real-life scenario through technology.
An example of this would be an online classroom, or a simulated sales call using an audio or video recording.
Remote training always happens with a distance between the learner and instructor and is fully facilitated online, while this is not always the case with virtual learning. This type of learning can be done remotely but can also be conducted with the learner and instructor in the same place. So while the two practices are very similar, there are some slight differences.
How do I know if my organization needs remote training?
If any of the below apply to your organization, then remote training will be beneficial to your employees and company:
- Some of your employees work remotely (at least partially)
- Engagement is low among your remote teams
- You plan to hire more remote employees in the future
- You’re transitioning (or have transitioned) to operating fully remotely
- You have teams of employees who have to work from different locations on a regular basis
Benefits of remote training
If planned and executed successfully, the benefits of remote training are great and will extend company-wide.
Here are just a few of the many benefits you can expect.
L&D continuity in times of disruption
If some or all of your employees have to suddenly transition from working in your main office to working remotely, it’s essential to ensure that they can continue to improve their skills and knowledge.
Remote training prevents employees from being left behind by ensuring continuous learning & development, which is beneficial for both employees and the organization.
Boosting employee productivity
Providing your remote employees with relevant, hands-on training helps build their skills and knowledge and ultimately, increase their productivity.
On-site training sessions and on-demand training can be expensive. There’s also the potential cost (and hassle) of transporting employees to a set location, and means a loss of output during this time.
Therefore, remote training is a more affordable option since it eliminates or significantly minimizes all of these costs, which is why more organizations are moving toward this training approach.
Improved knowledge retention
A significant benefit of remote training is the ability to revisit the training numerous times and in different formats. Employees can review the concepts and information as many times as they choose, which leads to improved learning and knowledge retention.
The training can be personalized by viewing the course material in a format of the learners’ choice: audio, video, presentations, or a combination of all of the above. Accessing the information in different formats means it supports the fact that every employee will have a unique learning style. In other words, learning becomes more engaging and facilitates higher knowledge retention.
Improved employee retention rate
If remote employees are offered plenty of training opportunities to learn and develop within their role and the wider organization, they are more likely to feel appreciated, part of the team, and want to remain within your organization. What’s more, as they learn new skills, their confidence will grow, leading to higher motivation and performance within their role.
Remote training challenges
While there are many benefits of remote training, there are also some challenges to consider.
Might be perceived as impersonal
Since there is no physical face-to-face contact with an instructor or peers, remote training can be perceived by some as impersonal.
Remote training also poses a few communication issues. For example, it is not easy to get immediate feedback, particularly with asynchronous training. Also, there isn’t the peer-to-peer interaction or support that comes with in-person training.
Since employees view and complete all of the training in a remote setting, there’s a high chance of the employee facing distractions while trying to finish it, especially when working from home. This could be self-imposed distractions, household demands, or family responsibilities. This is one of the challenges with remote work in general.
However, despite these challenges, organizations have continued working on and improving remote training strategies that eliminate these disadvantages.
Let’s explore these in more detail.
Remote training best practices
Launching a remote training program may be daunting from the outset, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a success!
Here are some best practices for training remote employees.
1. Use a variety of training formats and file types
The best approach is to use a combination of different training formats. For instance, you can combine live, synchronous sessions with an instructor with asynchronous or on-demand learning, microlearning/learning bites, or a Q&A session with an instructor which will combat the challenge of limited feedback.
Be sure to employ a range of file types, including:
- Downloadable worksheets
- Webinars or virtual instructor-led training
For example, if you want to train your HR department, you can combine live instructor-led lectures with flexible, online self-paced learning.
It is also essential to provide learners with opportunities to apply their newly acquired knowledge and skills. This includes practical exercises and projects they can work on.
Using various file formats caters to different learning styles and helps keep employees engaged. Moreover, it creates a more personal experience and helps with knowledge retention.
Think about what would keep you engaged, and start there.
2. Make the training mobile-friendly
Remote employees aren’t always working from home and won’t always have their laptop or computer within reach. This is why it’s vital to ensure your training is mobile-friendly and can be accessed anywhere at any time. In fact, 82% of remote employees have completed training outside of working hours, so why not make it as easy for them as possible?
In case you choose the right remote training software, this is a simple process.
3. Create a learner community
Communication and productivity tools like Slack, Asana, Trello, and Monday.com make remote working and training simpler than ever before.
These tools allow you to create a space for multiple employees on the same remote training program to engage in discussions in a fun way and share tips and knowledge. This gives your remote employees a chance to engage with each other and feel part of the team, simulating an in-person training experience.
A learner community also helps eliminate some of the communication issues discussed earlier, plus helps personalize the experience of remote training.
4. Measure training effectiveness
It’s crucial to track the effectiveness of your remote training for many reasons. It helps you understand whether your employees are absorbing the material, determine which courses and trainings are most successful and which ones need improving or replacing.
There are several ways to measure training effectiveness in a remote setting. These include:
- 1:1 discussions
- surveys and questionnaires
- post-training quizzes and assessments to check if the learners have acquired the target competencies
Kirkpatrick’s training evaluation model is helpful in measuring remote training effectiveness in different stages of the training, as well as for building a KPI framework for your training. Selecting the right key performance indicators enables you to create trainings that are effective and contribute to your organization’s bottom line.
Once you know what works and what doesn’t, you can start improving and streamlining your process and boost its effectiveness.
5. Make (parts of) remote learning self-paced
To give your employees more flexibility, you might consider making parts of the remote training self-paced. That means you give them an overall completion date, and they choose when to work through it to suit their schedule and preferred way of learning.
However, if you are going to make parts of the training self-paced, it’s crucial to establish a timeline with learners, so they have something to work toward. It can also be helpful to encourage them to regularly block out time in their calendar to dedicate to training.
6. Implement gamification
Gamification is a brilliant way to improve interactivity, engagement, and motivation with your learners and help eliminate distraction.
Many remote training software options come with gamification features, including competing for points, badges, and rankings on a leaderboard system. There’s also the ability to provide them with a certificate when they complete a course. The employees can then share these “wins” online.
Gamification is a creative way to support healthy competition while encouraging your employees with positive reinforcement when they do a great job.
7. Consider using a remote training software
A remote training software or learning management system (LMS) geared towards remote setting can help plan, implement, and deliver your training program smoothly, particularly if you’re a large organization.
Uploading your training materials and emailing them to your employees is an option, but this will lead you to miss out on many of the benefits that come with online training.
An LMS allows you to take advantage of all these benefits and will be both a remote training tool and a virtual training platform for you.
The right LMS will enable you to:
- Create, edit and store your content online
- Add remote employees to your portal and access the content anywhere at any time
- Track the progress and completion rates of learners
- Assess and evaluate learners’ knowledge
- Host live webinars and Q&A sessions
Examples of corporate LMS:
- SAP Litmos
General online learning platforms:
- Infosec Flex
- A Cloud Guru
8. Nurture a learning culture
To foster a learning culture, the concept of learning must be ingrained in your employees from the time they join your organization, and this should continue throughout their time with you. This means the remote training you offer should be regular and continuous rather than a one-off event.
Research has found that more than 70% of companies who successfully enhance their employees’ performance are also quick to deliver new training to meet the needs of the business. This supports the idea that ongoing remote training is a must, and remote employees should have access to training at all times.
Remote training is here to stay, so are you ready to adapt?
As we’ve already discussed, remote work is growing, which means that remote training should be rising at an equal rate. Designing, creating, and implementing relevant and effective remote training formats is vital to ensure your employees’ skills and confidence continue to develop. To sum up, this will boost productivity, employee retention, and team morale.
If you want to become an expert in learning & development and future-proof your HR skill set, check out our Learning & Development Certification Program!
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