Developing a Learning Culture

Top 10 Strategies for Effectively Training Remote Employees

There was a time when workforces placed heavy emphasis on the act of being physically present—whether for actual work or work-based training. Well, a lot has changed in the past few years, and the rise in remote working shows that it is imperative to be able to adapt quickly and move forward with new, more effective ways of working.

So, how can you manage a successful virtual training program while working remotely?

Let’s take a look at what could help you stay on track and be productive when conducting remote training.

Understanding the landscape of employee training

Taking on the responsibility of training a new employee is no small feat, especially when you’re doing it online. There can be awkward encounters with virtual conversations, like when you speak at the same time as someone else and then both insist the other goes first. Yeah, we’ve all been there. 

Nonetheless, we’ve got ten tips that will help in leading a successful remote training program.

10 best practices for efficient remote training

1. Provide pre-training resources

Pre-training materials that trainers can give out to prepare employees for upcoming training sessions provide great value. Consider preparing reading materials, brief introduction videos, or pre-assessments that can facilitate the actual remote training program before it even starts.

This not only helps to set expectations and establish a similar knowledge base for all trainees in the program but will also set the tone for the training and help trainers adhere to the allocated timing of the program schedule.

2. Start with an orientation session

Just because a training session is done virtually, doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some ground rules established. Beginning your training program with an orientation session helps to set the foundation of the training, clarify some basic online etiquette, and tackle possible issues that might arise, such as unstable internet connection, faulty audio, and microphone problems.

To moderate a smoother session, trainers can also encourage others to keep their microphones on mute when not speaking and chime in only after getting a clear green light from whoever was speaking at the time. This helps to avoid people speaking over others and ensure that everyone feels heard.

3. Provide an open line of communication 

The first step in creating a successful virtual training session is to establish a strong communication foundation with the trainee. Since online meetings flatten body language and other personal features into 2D, it is necessary to rely heavily on verbal communication. 

To do this, make sure you’re readily available to help via phone or a messaging platform. The new hire will likely have questions or need clarification, and making sure you’re available is the first step in closing the virtual communication gap.

4. Tailor content for remote learning

Analyzing training needs from the perspective of remote learning allows trainers to determine the goal of the training program, know the audience they are training, and understand what type of content would translate best and can be delivered to said audience, given the circumstances. This not only influences the outcomes of the training session but allows trainers to provide remote employees with the most fitting content.

5. Foster interaction and engagement 

One of the challenges of remote employee training is being impersonal for the sake of maintaining professional trainer-trainee boundaries. However, to cultivate a supportive learning environment, there should be a healthy level of communication between everybody involved. Some trainees are not used to remote training sessions (or remote working in general) and struggle to adjust to a newly introduced method compared to conventional physical training sessions.

While there are many benefits to remote working, an element that remains a prominent worry is isolation and lack of interaction with their trainers and peers. As a trainer, aim to create opportunities for peer support and mentorship to cultivate a fun and encouraging learning environment.

Related: Why spending time with your employees is important

6. Set clear learning objectives

To ensure an efficient remote training session, trainers need to define distinct learning goals and outcomes from the very start. Why? Setting clear objectives helps trainers focus on necessary content and ensure employees understand what they should aim to achieve. Many trainees prefer having set goals to keep them motivated and engaged throughout the process. Establishing the learning objectives before starting the program helps to manage these expectations.

7. Use microlearning techniques

Breaking apart or dividing the contents or sessions into small, digestible segments may help to avoid information overload on the trainee. Though it may not seem like much to the trainers, from the trainee’s perspective, sometimes less is more to avoid feeling overwhelmed. When training content is broken down into smaller parts to accommodate the learner’s progress or level of engagement, it helps with their attention and information recall.

Related: What is microlearning?

Training methods like eLearning—which is a computer-based training that you can conduct online from anywhere in the world—can be scaled as big or as small as the trainer wants it to be. Imagine a step-by-step list of training contents and activities that learners can go through at their own pace paired with different types of interactive activities.

Another format that has gained popularity in the corporate training scene is gamification, which can be applied to eLearning. Because of its more lighthearted nature, this increases motivation and engagement in a fun way, and also provides cognitive relief to the brain. 

8. Prioritize essential skills

Assessing the needs of the trainees and the organization allows the trainer to pinpoint what the essential skills are (regardless of whether they are soft or technical) to prepare the necessary remote employee training tools and align the training objectives for the training session. Identifying the core competencies while considering organization goals, specific skills gaps, and prioritized needs will ensure that trainers can conduct and adapt the training program based on what is needed. Not only will this allow for the efficient use of resources, but it will also contribute to the overall success of the organization.

9. Experiment with different training formats

Changing up training styles or using a combination of different methods will allow trainers to effectively train remote employees with differing learning styles. Incorporating various interactive content formats such as videos, quizzes, role-playing, and simulations has proven to maintain the attention of trainees in a more conducive way.

For example, simulating real work scenarios or conditions for the learners allows them to apply the knowledge they’ve learned in a more realistic setting. Role-playing different work scenarios creates the opportunity for trainees to explore various difficult situations in a controlled environment, thus helping to prepare them if and when a similar situation arises during work.

Changing up training formats will keep trainees engaged in the subject matter and make for a more personal experience for employees. It also helps them retain the knowledge they’ve learned.

10. Provide accessible learning materials

From a remote working standpoint, we understand that it can be a little daunting for trainers to conduct a full-fledged training program using a videoconference compared to physical face-to-face sessions. However, we are lucky enough to live in an age where digitalization has made it possible for us to deliver training remotely without sacrificing the quality of in-person training. To train remote employees effectively, providing accessible learning materials is paramount. Offering training materials in different formats, using clear and simple language, organizing materials in a structured way, and ensuring compatibility are all ways to provide an accessible remote training experience for trainees of various backgrounds and abilities.

Overcoming remote training challenges

Now, with all that said, how do we ensure that we keep remote training challenges at bay? Overcoming certain obstacles when it comes to remote training can be made possible with these steps:

Ensuring accessibility and inclusivity

A well-thought-out remote training program must cover all bases for all types of participants, and at the same time, promote inclusivity and equity while providing an effective, non-prejudiced learning experience for everyone within the organization. This puts a focus on the nitty-gritty details of the training program, like font sizes, font types, and even formatting options used in your training materials.  A prepared trainer must always remember to adjust for any type of impairments or disabilities, and this applies to both remote and in-person training.

Tracking progress and evaluating learning

To make the most out of your training program, tracking the progress of your trainees will allow you to evaluate whether or not your employees achieve the learning objectives. Using the right tools and techniques to evaluate their progress, such as a Learning Management System (LMS), or monitoring their pre- and post-assessments can be beneficial in tracking their learnings and identifying gaps. Other means of evaluation such as collecting participant feedback, observing the time spent to complete a task given, and using quizzes are also effective in evaluating the success of your training initiative.

Related: Learning assessments for corporate training, Training evaluation questions to ask

Offering flexibility

Whether it’s flexible training schedules, customized learning plans, specialized learning modules, or on-demand access to learning materials, offering your trainees these flexibilities will encourage a positive and accommodating learning experience. Some might argue that conducting a training session remotely is already extending beyond the usual flexibility of an organization, but promoting flexibility in your remote training can encourage a healthier work-life balance for employees and the trainers, thus allowing everybody in the organization to be in tip-top shape to do their best work. Sounds like a win-win situation for all!

Building personal connections with trainees

Of course, it’s important to get to know new team members and build rapport. Whether this is one-on-one or group training, it’s up to you to facilitate a team-building exercise and break the ice. 

Did you hear icebreakers and immediately roll your eyes? We get it; we all dread the cliche, “If you were an animal what would you be” type of questions. But in reality, thoughtful icebreakers can allow you to get to know your trainees on a more personal level and help structure your remote training methods.

Establishing a support system

After you know a little more about each other, set up some introductions with other employees in the area to help build a support system. It’s easy to feel alone while working remotely, and introducing nearby employees can give them someone to lean on and use as a resource.

To help them build virtual relationships, encourage training or input from other professionals at the company. Your trainee is probably getting a lot of facetime with you, and introducing new people can give them a more well-rounded view of the job and company atmosphere. This is a great way to diversify the training “curriculum,” encourage further engagement, and show the new hire a few more friendly faces.

Although certain challenges come with remote employee training, the bottom line is, it can be easy to navigate if you have the right guide and tools for it. Employee development no longer has to be confined within the physical walls of your organization. With remote and hybrid work models continuing to increase in popularity, these practices assist trainers with the necessary remote employee training tools they need to step up regardless of location, breaking what once was a barrier in traditional workforces.