When it comes to remote work, nobody says it better than Richard Branson: “We like to give people the freedom to work where they want, safe in the knowledge that they have the drive and expertise to perform excellently, whether they [are] at their desk or in their kitchen. Yours truly has never worked out of an office, and never will.”
To cement this idea even further, around 43% of U.S. employees worked remotely for part of 2017. Of these employees, 31% worked out of office for as many as four or five days of the week. Remote work is clearly on the rise, and every office is likely to have at least one remote team in the near future.
The Benefits of Having Remote Teams
Many organizations feel that offering remote work is key to talent retention in the modern business environment. This is because remote work:
● Improves employee productivity by removing distractions and allowing for focus time.
● Drives employee efficiency – when employees are tied to deliverables instead of hours, they’re able to work during the time of day that they feel most efficient.
● Lowers absenteeism, because employees are less likely to call in sick, or ask for leave to take care of personal admin and family emergencies.
Remote work seems to offer both employees and employers several benefits, so what’s the catch?
Well, there is one challenge faced by employers – remote training. This is largely because traditional training still relies heavily on in-office participation.
The good news is that remote training can be effective if you just avoid a few common mistakes.
The Remote Training Mistakes To Avoid
Remote training hasn’t been around for long compared to traditional training, but a few common pitfalls have already emerged. From making open communication and feedback difficult, to ignoring the need for continuous training and modern learning tools, these mistakes can make or break your training efforts.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can avoid them.
1. Making team communication a chore
A remote team doesn’t have the luxury of swinging their chair around and asking the colleague behind them a question. The distance between remote staff can make communication a challenge during training.
To avoid misunderstandings, remote teams need open communication. They need communication channels that are simple, easy and convenient to use. If communication channels are complex, time-consuming or inconsistent, remote employees won’t be motivated to communicate their ideas and questions.
During remote training, discussion forums and direct messaging can make ad-hoc, informal communication easy. Once employees are familiar with these digital channels, they might even leverage them for ongoing communication after training is complete.
Video conferencing is also effective for clear communication, both in training and during everyday work. Include webinars and video demonstrations in your training to create a real sense of team spirit and collaboration.
2. Not integrating your remote team into your culture
Remote employees (like any employee) become more engaged when they feel emotionally and socially connected to their employer and team. That’s why organizational culture is key to uniting employees under a common set of behaviors, values and goals.
So, leverage training as an opportunity to integrate your remote team into your culture. Include teamwork opportunities in your eLearning courses. This could be in the form of group assignments or problem-solving activities. And don’t forget communication channels, so that team members can share their learning experiences with each other.
With these simple tips, remote employees will feel like part of the bigger team, the brand, and the organization. In turn, this will improve their day-to-day productivity and motivation to perform.
3. Viewing training as a once-off event
Once you’ve onboarded employees, their training is complete, right? Wrong!
It’s true for most industries today that information, skills, and technology are continuously evolving – and training needs to keep up.
It’s especially important for remote teams to receive ongoing training. Why? Well, apart from formal training, in-office employees benefit from social learning, i.e. learning through informal interactions with colleagues. Not being in the office, remote teams tend to miss out on a fair amount of this casual, on-the-job education.
You can prevent remote teams from losing out on social learning by applying ongoing training principles.
Release updated job aids and other materials, like short videos or infographics. Offer regular “meet-ups” in the form of webinars or video conferencing sessions. This way remote employees can join other team members in discussing new concepts, collaborating on new ideas, and working toward shared goals.
4. Forgetting the importance of feedback
If you want your remote team to feel important and valued, give them the opportunity to share their opinions and experience.
Make feedback a core part of your training strategy. Employee feedback helps the team to improve, highlights processes and systems in the organization that could be improved, and of course, offers information on possible improvements to the training, too.
Fortunately, providing opportunities for feedback is easy even through your Learning Management System (LMS). An LMS, like TalentLMS, that supports surveys and other analytics features makes it easy for learners to submit their feedback throughout training.
Provide clear instructions on how to use the different feedback channels before training begins, and give learners a little reminder before the end of the course, too. By providing these opportunities for feedback, your remote team will feel less isolated from the rest of the organization.
5. Unclear goals and expectations for training
No one wants to kick if they can’t see the goal posts. Similarly, employees need clarity on what’s expected of them when it comes to training and development. When employees know what they’re working toward, they’re more engaged in their training, innovative in their work, and committed to self-development.
Managing remote staff means that the communication of expectations must be especially clear and well-documented, because they’re not in the office to experience informal reminders or ask for clarity.
So, schedule regular goal-setting sessions with each remote employee to align personal development goals with training. In this session, discuss KPIs, long-term goals, benchmarks, and short-term milestones.
Don’t view the communication of training goals as a once-off event, either. Engage regularly in informal communication around goals, and discuss progress with employees on a weekly or biweekly basis so that they stay on track.
6. Underestimating the power of remote training tools
Traditional, face-to-face training simply won’t do when you’re training remote employees. This type of training just doesn’t account for employees being, well, remote!
Fortunately, remote training software that meets the employer and employees’ needs does exist. The most important tool to invest in is a quality LMS. Your LMS should provide features that accommodate various learning and communication styles, and flexible and convenient access options, like mobile features.
A quality LMS can also be one of the most useful remote training tools when combined with traditional approaches. For example, by using a mighty LMS, you could run a blended training program that is almost completely online, and finish it off with an in-person scenario-based assessment. The perfect combination of convenience, flexibility and a personal touch.
It’s also important to keep an eye on developments in content tools and technology. Video content and podcasts have gained some serious popularity in recent years, and work especially well for ongoing remote training.
Upgrade Your Remote Training With The Support Of A World-class LMS
Being remote should never mean that employees feel unsupported or poorly equipped to do their jobs. Follow the tips in this article to avoid the biggest remote training mistakes, and reap the benefits for both the organization and your employees.
If you want to start by exploring how an LMS can help you meet your remote training goals, simply sign up for a forever free account at TalentLMS.