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Guide to Training Remote Employees

August 31, 2021

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How to Train Remote Employees

Many corporations and small businesses made the jump to a remote workforce after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. However, even before that rapid and broad shift, corporate training trends were shifting toward a remote, or sometimes hybrid, workforce. 

Remote communication and collaboration will stay long after the pandemic ends, but many unanswered questions exist about it. For instance: what is the impact on training remote employees when the dominant communication medium is Slack or Teams and the dominant form of communication is conversational?

As a growing company, there will inevitably come a time when training remote staff members becomes necessary. You’ll have to give them some level of training, whether it’s just learning about internal policies, security awareness, or communicating a whole new product or service. Regardless of how much professional experience your workforce has, there is always a learning curve to endure and ongoing maintenance.

How do these changing circumstances play out in a remote location?

There are several facets to consider, including your budget, scalability of delivery, and more. In this comprehensive article, the Haekka team helps you understand the steps involved with training remote employees, various tools you can deploy internally, and best practices that keep everyone engaged and learning.

Develop Your Remote Training Program in Six Steps

Training remote employees can be challenging for both managers and employees alike. It takes time and patience to get it right. First and foremost, your training materials must be clear and straightforward to use.

If your employees have to spend considerable time looking for or deciphering information, they will fall behind in their learning. This situation will ultimately affect your bottom line.

Training should be as delightfully engaging as it is accessible. When it comes to remote employees, there are plenty of distractions, so your training must compete with them. You can support this notion by making the training courses as aesthetically and intellectually pleasing as possible.

You must also ensure that you’re providing and receiving constructive, measurable feedback. As business owners, it’s imperative that you know how your people are doing, what they’re doing well, and what they should improve. Try to make the feedback process as transparent as possible.

While the above-referenced overview helps you understand what’s involved from a strategic standpoint, here is a six-step process to help you propel it into fruition tactically:

Step 1. Audit Your Remote Workforce

Most of your competitors probably don’t audit their remote employee training efforts. However, you can achieve a better result if you have a solid understanding of your workforce’s current training needs and thus, gain a competitive advantage over competitors.

For remote employees, a lack of skills can lead to frustration and poor performance. Start by identifying the skills and knowledge that they are lacking. This strategy is referred to as a completing skills gap analysis.

Below, we have outlined the following tips to help you get the process started:

  • Consider the skills your company needs to help it grow
  • Learn about your company’s current overall inefficiencies
  • Benchmark high-performing employees for identifying gaps in others
  • Encourage employees to provide honest feedback
  • Conduct employee surveys, quizzes, and polls

Analyze your findings exhaustively. Think of it as an exercise in implicitly understanding where your organization is at. You can then use your meticulous observations to improve remote training programs, and subsequently, the strength of your workforce.

Step 2. Establish Your Objectives

Getting to where you’re going starts by knowing where you want to go. Before training remote employees, consider every aspect of your program objectively. Not only will this strategy help you craft the perfect educational content, but it will also help you achieve your overall company goals.

Here are examples of a few non-financial benchmarks that you can use for your remote training process:

  • Enable employees to perform better at home
  • Enhance communications and etiquette
  • Mitigate and reduce distractions
  • Offer hassle-free access to training resources
  • Support productivity and time management
  • Utilize tools that value information security
  • Offer a separate training path based on role
  • Focus on one area of training or many

Your company’s remote training objectives may look similar to the ones referenced above. However, it’s always a good idea to account for company-specific values and goals. You should also speak with your advisors or accountants about how remote training affects your company’s budget.

Step 3. Devise a Plan of Action

Once you have a crystal-clear idea of where you want your training program to go, it’s time to start creating an action plan. Planning from a set of goals is essential for the most complete result.

Start by deciding which learning environment you’ll utilize. These are the three learning environments that work well for many remote teams:

  1. Blended learning: This method is a hybrid of real-time and self-paced learning that accommodates various learners and learning situations. It’s great for complex training, but it’s probably too time-consuming for quick training sessions.
  2. Real-time learning: This method utilizes real-time channels like Slack or Zoom. As information is shared within a chat or channel, everyone learns. It’s as close to classroom training as you can get. However, you must plan ahead of time to ensure that everyone is available for the session.
  3. Self-paced learning: Employees can access learning content whenever they want, comment, participate in activities, and take assessments. However, you’ll need a regularly updated library of training materials for employees to benefit and stay engaged. Managers will also have to take the time to monitor their progress.

The most important questions are how well you know your remote team and what works best for them. It’s essential to keep in mind that remote workers are people with lives outside of work. Use this information to guide you in your training method of choice.

Step 4. Select the Right Training Tools for Remote Work

Your training methods must reflect your company’s needs. Employee expectations have risen steadily over time. The most advantageous way for getting the most out of your remote workforce is to equip them with the right training tools.

Depending upon your unique circumstances, you could use one or multiple tools, including:

  • Collaboration workspace
  • Learning management system
  • Learning portal
  • Online training library
  • Online training platform
  • Remote employee communication
  • Track training progress
  • Video conferencing

The remote collaboration tools listed above will make a massive difference in your overall delivery. However, it’s up to the team and their involvement to make it happen. Start with a clear set of company values, gather like-minded people, and use tools to improve your remote training program.

At Haekka, we’re personally biased towards delivering training in collaboration and workflow platforms like Slack and Teams. We have watched these platforms become the heartbeat of growing companies. As work has shifted to remote, the number of use cases driven into Slack and Teams has skyrocketed. Training, written for and delivered in Slack and Teams, eliminates context switching, increases engagement and completion, and removes the perceived burden of training.

If you’re interested in seeing your training in Slack, give Haekka a whirl (we offer free trials).

Step 5. Create Your Training Content for Remote Work

You might wonder if there is a perfect roadmap for creating relevant and engaging remote training content. However, given the unique variables of each project, it’s impossible to cover everything in one plan. Use the insights gleaned from the preceding exercises to help you craft the best materials.

Types of training content materials that engage employees include:

  • Chatbot messages
  • Data banks
  • eBooks
  • Forums
  • Live streams
  • Podcasts
  • Quizzes
  • Simulations
  • Slides
  • Videos
  • Webinars

Creating quality content is arguably one of the most time-consuming aspects of remote training. You’ll have to produce engaging content that is also accurate and fact-checked. Otherwise, you could be disseminating erroneous information company-wide, which can slow down performance.

Step 6. Monitor & Control the Process Long-Term

Tracking the results of your remote employee training is the final piece of the puzzle. This last step should be done in a way that is specific to your company’s needs. Take a high-level look at the big picture and improve remote employee training to boost productivity and customer satisfaction.

It’s also worth creating a dialogue and giving your people a voice to successfully implement remote training at scale. Information and training is definitely not a one-way street! You should also foster discussions among managers to learn about how their teams are performing as well.

Measuring your workforce’s engagement is critical to effectively managing remote employees who are more at risk. Don’t be afraid to implement changes incrementally and keep sharpening the training arrow over time.

Our Favorite Remote Training Tools

As your company evolves, it is vital that your training methods also grow with it. Employee expectations have risen over the last several years. Inspiring them with the right training tools is the best method for creating the most significant impact.

Rather than having to test out numerous tools, here are Haekka’s favorite tools for remote training:

Favorite Tool #1. Slack

Instructor-led sessions, group training, and in-app guidance are ways in which employees learn and grow. Growth and development in a traditional setting also include communication with peers and superiors. Slack is the solution if you want to mirror a natural style within your organization.

You can use Slack to encourage employee communication, which will help them grow. You can also create a general Slack channel to interact with your team regularly and host video chats about your training and development efforts.

Employees will be more empowered to learn and interact as a result of such interactions. You will also find them more accountable for their learning initiatives. Plus, Slack is just really fun to use.

Document sharing, screen sharing, company-wide announcements, department communications, one-on-one direct messaging, and collaborative learning are just a few of Slack’s remote-workspace-friendly features.

Favorite Tool #2: Zoom

Regarding remote employee training, pre-recorded videos and training documentation aren’t always the best options. There will undoubtedly be times when virtual instructor-led training or live sessions with employees are required. Video conferencing solutions like Zoom are a must-have in such situations!

Having face-to-face interactions with your remote employees is essential for establishing this often-missed personal connection. Video conferencing and live chat tools, such as Zoom, will effectively bridge the gap between you and your employees. They also allow you to create a digital footprint of employee interactions and offer examples of how your teams operate.

Favorite Tool #3. Trello

Trello and other similar project management tools are used for more than just projects. You can utilize Trello if you use it to manage employee training as well. While it’s older than Slack, it still gets the job done, and quite well, too.

Trello can also be useful for employee training initiatives at your company. You can use it to break down employee training into smaller tasks with the ability to delegate. You can also evaluate an employee’s training and work together on group sessions with them.

Trello can be beneficial for tracking employee training progress because it allows you to keep track of their progress and encourage collaboration even when working remotely.

Remote Training Tips & Best Practices

The changing work environment necessitates new ways to communicate with our coworkers. By remaining flexible, your company will save money while keeping everyone connected with minimal effort. Here are a few remote training tips and best practices that your company may consider adopting:

Make Access a No-Brainer

It’s critical that your company doesn’t disperse training materials too thinly across multiple applications. Consolidate all learning materials into a single platform if at all possible. Employees’ lives are made easier because they don’t have to switch between programs to finish their training as a result.

The more barriers to participation, the lower the likelihood that they will complete their course. This outcome means you’re wasting your time creating content, and your audience is missing out on important information. People want technology that is seamless and easy to use.

Employees must be self-motivated for remote training to be successful. They will not be motivated to complete learning independently if it is delivered in a dull medium.

Rally Everyone Together

Working from home can be isolating. It lacks the sense of belonging and camaraderie found in an office setting. A remote worker is, by definition, alone. They may have sporadic interactions with customers or choose to work in a public environment.

Even still, they don’t have coworker interactions or breaks with peers as per usual.

Remote employees are more likely than in-office staffers to feel lonely all of the time or occasionally. They are less engaged and have a higher churn rate. Remind them that they’re part of something bigger and work with a professional team, even if that team isn’t immediately present.

Encourage individuals to share expertise within teams and between departments via video as one way to accomplish this goal and build human connections between remote colleagues. This style of communication encourages knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning while also replicating a sense of human warmth.

Consider the Social and Cultural Components

One of the first goals of employee training is to ensure that they are aligned with its mission. Being on board with an organization, its culture, and its vision means that an employee is fully integrated with your internal culture. If they’re not on board with the team and organization, it’s challenging for them to reach their full potential.

Many people attribute their impressions of a company to social communications with other employees. Team members frequently turn to others to navigate their jobs and define cultural norms. One of the most crucial issues in establishing an emotional connection and commitment is hearing about current employees’ experiences with the company and getting to know and like others.

Without the ongoing dialogue and support, it’s harder to get “buy in.” Ensure your training program encourages them to stay with you long-term.

Account for the Time It Takes New Hires

New hires require more time to integrate into the company culture. Employee handbooks usually contain guidelines, but nuances related to those rules can be lost in translation. Being around coworkers can help people find answers to questions or informally interact with each other, which are essential activities contributing to the company culture.

Team members’ alignment and emotional connection to the company’s goals directly impact their motivation, productivity, performance, and success. The effectiveness with which an organization onboards a new employee can impact that employee’s retention.

Remote Training Is a Process, Not a Destination

All remote training should be viewed as a continuous process. Throughout an employee’s career at the company, there are opportunities to improve their understanding of job expectations and culture. Revisiting principles can also help to strengthen commitment and enhance job performance.

However, the demand for remote workers is even greater. Online professional development and eLearning are critical components of their ongoing journey. Substantive, engaging, custom training content for your company will strengthen your brand and increase the job satisfaction of your remote employees.

Remote employees face a unique set of challenges when it comes to new hire training. However, online training programs and branded content can help you develop a trusting and loyal relationship with your employees, regardless of their physical location.

Final Thoughts and Considerations

Employees’ continued learning is critical, but most companies struggle to train their employees virtually as working from home has become the norm. Managers, executives, and employees are still adjusting to the change as companies worldwide encourage remote working.

Training them remotely can be beneficial to the company. Remote employee training, when done right, will help your company gain advantages that exceed your competitors. However, you must ensure that your program works for your internal needs and addresses all training issues while using delivery methods that make sense.

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