The Complete Guide To Remote Training 2020
As remote work becomes the new normal, and no longer the exception, remote training is not far behind. Discover everything you need to know about successful remote training, and make the transition as seamless as possible.
The transition to remote work and remote training
If the sudden transition to remote work caught you off guard, the transition to remote training doesn’t have to. This complete guide will define exactly what remote training is, how you can implement it within your organization, and explain its advantages over traditional training methods.
When done right, the benefits of remote training are significant and far-reaching. Remote training is cost-efficient, scalable, and an effective way of taking your team’s performance from average to excellent.
What is remote training, and why is it important?
Remote training takes place at a distance, away from an instructor and/or the main place of work. The most common examples of remote training are online courses and webinars.
Remote work has grown by 159% from 2005 to 2017 in the U.S. alone, according to the FlexJobs & Global Workplace Analytics Report. And according to TalentLMS’s remote work survey, 67% of remote workers want more training from their employers.
That means that whether your company currently allows its employees to work remotely, or is about to make the transition to remote work, having a solid plan for remote training must be a top priority.
Is virtual training different from remote training?
Virtual training is similar to remote training. The definition of virtual training is training that attempts to recreate a real-life scenario using technology.
Some examples of virtual training activities include simulating a sales call for a learner by using an audio or video recording. Or, you could set up a virtual training session to teach customer support representatives on how to handle difficult situations.
A key characteristic of virtual training is that it involves a piece of technology. Most likely, this is a computer, but it could also be a TV, a recorder, a cell phone, etc.
There is a key distinction between remote training and virtual training. While remote training happens with distance between the learner and the instructor, this is not always the case with virtual training. Virtual training can be done remotely,(and most often is), but can also occur with both the instructor and learner in the same location. That means that virtual training best practices are often similar, and even identical, to remote training best practices.
Are there other terms that also mean remote work?
The definition of remote work: when an employee does not regularly work at a central location where the organization is established, such as an office, warehouse. Instead, the employee works from one or many different locations that are physically removed from the business's central location.
You may also see remote work referred to as telecommuting, telework, mobile work, work from home (WFH).
Do I need to invest in remote training, and if so, why?
The purpose of remote training is to transfer knowledge and skills to employees, regardless of where they physically are. While different types of training may require different delivery methods, the goal remains the same: effectively deliver information that will help employees perform better.
Who is remote training for?
With remote work on the rise, the most obvious employees that need remote training are the ones that don’t work in the office or main place of business.
Working remotely makes training even more critical for these workers compared to their in-office counterparts. Remote workers are required to work more independently and self-sufficiently.
So, engaging your remote employees should be a priority. Giving them access to the training that they need will not only grow their skill sets but will also boost their confidence and productivity.
Managers responsible for remote teams
Leading a remote team is vastly different than leading an in-person one, which means these types of managers need specialized training.
And if these managers themselves also work remotely, then properly training remote workers becomes even more significant.
Remote leaders need to know how to communicate, delegate tasks, and check in regularly with employees working from a distance. Their training should consist of soft skills and digital skills to help them maintain solid connections with their team members.
How do I know if my organization needs remote training?
If any of the following describe your organization, then offering remote training will bring value.
You have members of your staff that work remotely.
You plan to hire employees to work remotely.
You are transitioning or have transitioned your company to operate remotely.
You have teams of people whose jobs require them to work from different locations at any given time.
Engagement is low among your remote teams.
How to support and engage remote employees
How to support remote workers
Supporting remote workers is different than supporting in-office workers. challenges that remote workers face differ from those of employees that work in the office. Colleagues and managers aren’t just a few desks away, and they may not even be working in the same time zones.
As a result, being proactive and communicating openly with remote employees is critical. It’s likely that remote workers feel detached from the rest of the team, and may have a more difficult time asking for help and additional support to best do their jobs.
There are a wide range of benefits to offering your remote employees online training opportunities:
They have the chance to learn new skills, as well as refine old ones.
Proactively providing training opportunities shows employees they are valued and are a priority, even though they don’t come into the office every day.
Training gives you a direct means of engaging remote workers.
As they learn new skills, their confidence will grow, and their motivation to perform at their best will increase.
The quality of the work they produce will improve, alongside their abilities.
Retention will increase, as employees who are offered ample training opportunities are more likely to stay with their current companies.
Retention will increase, as employees who are offered ample training opportunities are more likely to stay with their current companies.
How training directly engages remote employees
Remote training offers them ways to participate in activities with the rest of the non-remote team. And if you choose remote training software with gamification features, you can let employees compete for points, badges, and rankings.
You can provide them with certificates when they successfully complete courses. Everyone appreciates something tangible that marks their progress, and they can share these online.
You’ll have more to discuss with your remote workforce than just assignments and tasks. You can ask your team how their training is going, what topics they’ve particularly enjoyed, and how the initiative can be improved.
Simple steps to get your remote training program up and running
Launching a remote training initiative may seem challenging because of the distance that separates the learner from the instructor. Knowing how to conduct remote worker training isn’t as straightforward as in-person training since you can’t just ask learners on the spot if the process is working for them.
But that doesn’t mean your first attempt has to be unsuccessful.
Here is a step-by-step guide that will help you get started:
Determine what the topic of your training will be
Are you training hard skills or soft skills? Will it be role-specific for certain people, or generally applicable for all employees? It is essential to answer these questions first because their answers will dictate your method of delivery.
Choose how to deliver your training.
The way you provide your training is just as important as the content you’re offering. Your content may be well-thought-out and informative, but if it’s not delivered correctly, no one will actually learn it. Be sure to pick the medium that works best:
- Online courses
Tried and true, online courses are the most common way of delivering remote employee training. But there’s so much more to building an online course than simply putting your PDFs into a shared folder, or uploading them into a learning management system. Put yourself into the learner’s shoes: would you find it engaging if you had to read through endless pages, or flip through PowerPoint slides? You can do better.
Online learning allows you to take advantage of various activities to engage remote employees, such as audio and video lessons. Instead of presenting information through a text document, you can pre-record a video and teach and explain the content. Video creates a more engaging experience for your learner.
Don’t feel comfortable, or have the time to sit in front of your camera? Explore ready-made training videos covering a wide range of topics, and choose relevant ones to assign to your remote employees. Your team will not only appreciate the better learning experience but also gain and retain much more information. Win-win.
- Webinars or Virtual Instructor-Led Training Sessions:
Webinars, or virtual instructor-led trainings, are sessions held online where an instructor gives a presentation. So why do they have different names?Webinars are frequently thought of as presentations given by an expert on a topic and are open to the public to attend. You may have received emails in the past from other companies or organizations inviting you to attend a webinar on a topic of interest.A virtual instructor-led training session (ILT) is typically a private session, set up by the person in charge of training, with attendance limited to only the company’s employees. Don’t let the two terms confuse you: they are both fundamentally online presentations held to share knowledge.Webinars and ILTs are suitable methods of delivering virtual training online, and when the topic you need to discuss is more specialized or complex. It may be easier for both the instructor and the learners to engage with the topic through discussion, rather than delivering training and communicating in one direction. Some advantages of live webinars and ILTs are that learners can ask the instructor questions directly, and as they come up. Instructors can clarify points of confusion and can adjust the discussion based on the group’s needs. And of course, they’re more engaging for everyone involved since multiple people are participating simultaneously.
- Online courses
Choose a training software that will make implementing and delivering your training as smooth as possible.
If you’re thinking about skipping this step, think again. Simply uploading your training materials into a folder or emailing them to your employees will cause you to miss many of the fundamental benefits online training offers. Instead, consider investing in a learning management system (LMS) that allows you to take full advantage of all that remote training has to offer. The software you choose should be able to be both a remote training tool and a virtual training platform.
With the right LMS you’ll be able to:
- Create, manage, and store your content online
- Upload users to your portal, making it easier for your remote employees to access their training from anywhere, at any time
- Host live webinars and ILTs
- Track learners’ progress and completion rates
- Assess and evaluate learners’ knowledge
The bottom line is that having an LMS provides significant value for everyone involved with remote training: learners, instructors, and managers.
Pro tips to make your remote training even more successful:
An online authoring tool can make your life much easier when it comes to content creation.
Ask your remote employees for feedback on their training, so that you’ll know what works well, and what needs improvement.
A direct way to engage remote employees is to ask them what topics they’d like to receive training on. Often your remote employees already have an idea about what they’d like to learn, and directly asking them can help you establish the right remote work training.
Best practices for training remote employees
Make sure that in addition to providing remote training, you actively encourage it among your employees. That means directly communicating to your employees that they can and should make time in their schedules for training, in addition to their other responsibilities. Overloading them with tasks and assignments won’t leave much leftover time available for training.
Make your training mobile friendly
Accessibility is a crucial determiner for whether or not your remote employees will complete their training. Remote employees aren’t necessarily working from home. If their job requires them to travel, they may not always be in front of their laptops. Making your remote training mobile friendly is an easy process when you have the right remote training software.
Vary your method of delivery
Different people have different learning styles. That’s why you shouldn’t deliver training in only one way. Mix up text, audio, and video deliveries so that there’s something for everyone.
Consider pre-training material
Help everyone get the most out of webinars and virtual ILTs. Since these types of delivery don’t allow for self-paced training, it’s good practice to provide pre-training materials to everyone who will attend. Pre-training material gives you the opportunity to communicate information about what will be discussed during the session ahead of time, helping all attendees get on the same page.
Record webinars and ILTs
Make sure you record your webinars and ILTs. Since they require scheduling, and your people may be in different locations, not everyone will likely attend the live session. Recording it and making it available for future viewing allows everyone to access the information discussed.
Don't forget to interact
Provide opportunities for remote employees to interact with each other and with members of your in-house team. When you assign training or launch a course, set a date to discuss the new material. Learners frequently want to ask questions and talk about the new information. This gives them the chance to do so, and is a fun way to engage remote employees, making them feel included and part of the team.
Track your training
Not only to analyze whether your employees have learned the material, but also to determine which topics and courses are most popular, and which ones need replacing.
Ask for feedback
Always ask for direct feedback. The instructor’s perspective can never be the same as the learner’s perspective. So make sure you get a full understanding of what works and what doesn’t, by simply asking everyone involved.
Resources you might like:
What are some topics I should train my remote workers in?
The truthful answer to this question is: all of the topics you train your in-office workers on, and then some more.
Since one of the most important goals of remote training is to help your out-of-office workers feel included and connected with your in-office workers, all your employees should get the same foundational training.
For example, a sales rep that works from the office and a sales rep that works remotely should receive the same fundamental sales training. If their responsibilities are the same, and their locations are different, their training should also be the same. And conveniently, you can deliver identical training to these two employees by conducting it with an LMS.
But as mentioned before, remote employees face different challenges than in-office employees. This is where the “and more” part of their training comes in.
Here are some training topics that can be especially useful for remote employees:
Task Management Tools
Video Conferencing Tools
Why should I care about training remote employees?
More than 50% of survey respondents that currently work on-site want to start working remotely.
42% of surveyed remote workers report plans to work remotely more frequently than they presently do over the next 5 years.
38% of surveyed remote workers report plans to work remotely more frequently than they presently do over the next 5 years.
15% of remote employee managers received no training on how to manage their remote teams.
From OwlLabs’ 2019 State of Remote Work
The bottom line: remote work is on the rise, and not just out of necessity. Employees want the option to work remotely. To be a desirable company that attracts top talent in the market, you’ll need to offer them the option to do so. The best way to ensure that this arrangement works out for both employer and employee is to make remote training available.
87% of surveyed remote employees report that they receive regular training.
70% of them receive training directly from their companies.
The remaining 17% find and pay for training online.
90% of respondents report getting more work done when working remotely and focus on skills like organization, communication, and time management.
FromTalentLMS’s Remote Work Survey
The bottom line: remote employees want training. They understand the role that soft skills play in their productivity, and are willing to seek out training on their own, even when their company doesn’t provide it. Why not provide it for them?