Nail Remote Employee Training with 20 Practical Best Practices
Does your organization employ remote workers? Or maybe you're considering adopting a remote or hybrid work model in the future?
Do you need to build skills or improve performance for your hybrid workforce?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you must prioritize remote training. According to a Gallup study on the state of remote work, 60% of workers in the US would prefer a long-term hybrid work environment.
Workplaces enabling learning and development for their teams are more likely to enjoy the benefits of motivated staff learning new skills and using their strengths.
But training employees remotely comes with serious challenges. So how do you overcome them?
And how can you start a remote training initiative from scratch?
You'll find the answers and much more in this article.
💪 Why is there an increasing need for remote training?
The employee experience has changed significantly since 2020. From communication to productivity, the remote workplace has forced companies to cultivate positive experiences to ensure employees employ their best efforts and stick around longer.
Training employees is one of the avenues to support their growth and ensure that the strategic benefits of L&D continue to translate, even where teams no longer share a physical workspace.
Learning remotely is flexible and more accessible compared to traditional training methods.
Digital learning content is available across multiple devices that suit learners' preferences and needs. Plus, the self-paced nature ensures employees have greater flexibility in learning at a time that suits them, many times in the flow of work.
In contrast, traditional (formal) learning methods require classroom-style engagement, which is simply impossible in a remote work environment.
Many remote learning programs opt to offer information in bite-sized pieces (microlearning). This format is easily digestible, understandable, and allows for better knowledge retention.
By constantly sharing information nudges, L&D stakeholders can quickly disseminate standard practices and principles at scale, a more efficient way of sharing information than a one-off conventional learning event.
🤯 9 Common challenges of remote employee training
While adopting virtual methods to L&D is necessary for employee success, there are issues with training and managing remote employees. As an HR stakeholder, you should see these as challenges that raise the need to plan for a remote training model adequately.
Lack of face-to-face supervision
In an in-person training session, the presence of a facilitator or coach almost guarantees that the employees' focus will be on them.
However, remotely, this can be a struggle. Behind turned-off cameras, there could be participants juggling multiple priorities or dealing with distractions.
Lack of access to information
If you roll out remote learning without a proper structure and process, employees might find it hard to locate learning materials or lack access altogether.
Thus, effective communication should underly remote training efforts. Otherwise, you will waste valuable time and attention trying to get people on the same page.
Poor training content
Simply moving traditional learning content online isn't the answer, as employees' challenges in a remote work environment are different.
Tip: Adapt your content to emerging needs and cater to the various learning styles.
It is common for employees working remotely to develop feelings of loneliness.
In a remote training session, the lack of physical interaction can further increase the isolation, especially for employees who find it hard to remain motivated without their team around them.
As remote learning sometimes means connecting with colleagues from different parts of the globe, differences in culture, language and communication styles are common.
The lack of physical cues, which often signal preferences and boundaries to others, can also hamper communication.
Amid busy and demanding daily schedules, learning tends to move down the priority list.
For live sessions, finding a time frame that works for all can also be challenging when employees work from multiple time zones.
The inability to maintain consistent focus in remote learning is one of the biggest challenges, especially where the training is self-paced. Distractions, whether unforeseen or self-made, can hinder progress and defeat the purpose of training.
Seamless connectivity is a concern, especially when people log in from different settings.
Consider how many virtual meetings have included audio issues, spotty video, or participants dropping off intermittently.
If trainers and employees spend a considerable time sorting out technical issues, how much time do they focus on learning?
Limited opportunity to implement skills
In many instances, remote employees might lack the chance to try out the principles and practices taught. For this reason, learning content needs to highlight effective remote implementation methods.
🏆 5 Key benefits of remote training
Remote working and training are the norms in the current business environment. Businesses that focus on growing their employees through remote training enjoy some key benefits.
Learning and development can make a significant impact on productivity. Offering opportunities to strengthen employee skills through training creates a higher productivity and performance culture.
Remote training can reduce or even eliminate the costs associated with in-person employee training, which sometimes includes expensive travel.
The more knowledge employees are exposed to, trained on, and allowed to practice, the higher the chances of implementing it in their work.
Continuously developing employees through training allows them to feel valued and optimistic, thereby increasing their chances of staying longer.
L&D continuity in times of disruption
The best-performing organizations often have a common theme: an established learning culture that thrives even in times of disruption.
We know that a learning culture is not something that magically appears overnight.
💡 So, how can you start building a learning culture in your workplace? Our suggestion: get inspired by others. We have compiled a list of 16 examples of learning culture and real-life examples.
🪜 Get started with remote training in 7 steps
As global HR and business leaders prioritize learning and development for their remote workers, it's critical to take a structured approach that encompasses the following best practices.
Identify the skills gap
Many well-meaning companies make the mistake of developing an L&D program without assessing their teams' skills gap. With Zavvy's training needs assessment survey, you can start the learning journey with the correct information.
Choose a delivery model
When choosing a delivery model, the best strategy is to opt for a combination of different approaches, including synchronous, asynchronous, or blended learning styles.
Tip: Be sure to employ a variety of training formats and file types, including video, worksheets, presentations, checklists, and audio.
Depending on your budget, you can make the most of technological options to make remote work training for employees more effective. The broad categories of options include:
- Training management systems such as Zavvy.
- Remote video training tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.
- Learning experience platforms such as (also) Zavvy, Learnerbly, and Docebo.
Prepare your learning materials
The purpose of learning materials is to:
- Support learning by making the sessions interesting and engaging.
- Act as a guide for the sessions.
- Provide avenues to relay insights or opportunities to practice skills.
Document all training
A training document facilitates easy access to knowledge, ensuring that employees can access crucial information that empowers them to keep learning as they work.
All preparation ultimately leads to the actual delivery. So, execution is vital for achieving the intended results.
For greater effectiveness, implement the learning as a continuous process, such as on-the-job training, rather than a one-time event.
Measure training effectiveness
A successful training initiative means that employees learn new skills, put them into practice, and adopt behavior change.
Tip: Measuring these outcomes is necessary to enable you to evaluate what works and which training aspects need improvement for a greater return on investment.
💡 20 Best practices for training remote employees
Incorporate these best practices to ensure that you create better outcomes for your organization and your employees.
You can't underestimate the importance of planning for the entire journey. Work with a planning checklist that should include the following aspects:
- training goals;
- resources required;
- learning material;
- communication responsibility.
A virtual orientation program ahead of training ensures that everyone has a clear understanding of the journey ahead.
Plus, orientation offers a platform to build excitement toward learning while allowing remote employees to seek clarification.
Set realistic expectations and deadlines
Get remote employees to set concrete goals for the training, with action plans and milestones for each phase of the learning. These documents can grow as the employee progress.
Make (parts of) remote learning self-paced
Allowing employees to do the training course at their pace gives them the freedom to plan and better integrate learning into their daily routines.
Respect your employees' time
For effective learning transfer, seek to communicate the learning in the clearest way possible.
If a push notification is the most convenient way to share a survey or knowledge assessment, by all means, use it.
Tip: In remote learning, the path of least resistance is impactful.
Keep training resources all in one place
You won't want employees frustrated by scattered materials or lack of access. Plus, having multiple tools for different courses is also far from ideal.
A learning management system allows all employees to access training material and relevant resources from a central location.
Develop quick bites of information
As you deliver training, tap into the power of microlearning activities that deliver quick bites of information to learners. These bite-sized activities can focus on particular practices or tips that help keep learning alive amid busy schedules.
More than anything, remote training has to be engaging to retain attention and spur meaningful conversations.
Include interactive elements
Including interactive aspects such as live Q&As, games, videos, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities ensures employees tap into
Embedding game-like elements such as awarding points for progress and having leaderboards keeps engagement high and offers avenues to reward those who learn and apply.
"Experimenting with… game design elements is a great way to gamify your learning curriculum and evolve the impact of your learning programs from satisfactory to spectacular." Koreen Pagano – Director of Product Management at D2L.
Encourage social learning
Having younger workforces that embrace social media more strongly makes it crucial for remote learning initiatives to include social learning. From the 70-20-10 learning model, social and development relationships contribute to 20% of an individual's ability to learn and grow.
Make mobile-first courses
In the third quarter of 2021, global users spent more than half their online time browsing using mobile devices, translating to more than three hours of daily engagement.
Balance self-guided and group training
Rolling out both group (which benefits the entire organization) and self-guided remote training ensures your L&D efforts have a personal focus and organizational-wide impact.
Focus on goals, not time in front of the screen
Suppose positive behavior change is the desired outcome of training. In that case, having measurable aspects that define this result should guide your interaction with remote employees. It removes the focus from getting them to fulfill "seat time" requirements and shifts it to providing the support needed to attain the goal.
Offer regular check-ins or meetings
Let remote employees know they can reach out regularly to review issues, answer questions or connect as much as possible.
Track training productivity and progress
Quizzes, polls, and surveys are options to consider to track remote employees' understanding and progress. The results can form the basis of feedback to L&D teams on the remote training's effectiveness.
Don't neglect the importance of post-training
The learners' evaluation of the training program is one of the best ways to measure its success.
Tip: You should incorporate feedback from previous training sessions during the planning phases. It will help you nail employee needs and expectations.
Ask for feedback
Consistent feedback is vital in meeting the remote training program's goals. It can take multiple forms, such as pulse surveys and feedback forms. What's essential is providing accessible avenues to hear back from employees.
Validate employees and elevate leadership
An essential aspect of your program is recognizing employees for their effort and engagement.
Tip: Gaining recognition can encourage others to get involved, plus open opportunities to highlight good leadership.
Getting senior management to buy in and champion L&D within the company sets the remote training initiative up for success.
👩🎓 8 Training topics for remote employees
Building and maintaining engagement is crucial when training remote employees.
Tip: You need to choose topics that are relevant to the employee's role. Learning more about the newest SEO trends might sound cool, but this knowledge won't help your sales reps close more deals.
Your choice of topics matters as the expectation is that what you train is expected to change mindsets.
Some of the topics can include:
- Digital skills. Learning about new and emerging technology will always be exciting for remote employees. These skills set them up for both current and future success.
- Company culture. According to LinkedIn's 2022 Global Talent Trends Report, close to 60% of talent professionals view investments in employees' professional development as an avenue to improve company culture.
- Soft skills. As technology changes the nature of work, employees must refine the soft skills that artificial intelligence and automation cannot apply.
- Role clarity. Many remote employees are eager to demonstrate their value, so a training initiative aimed at role-specific skills can help boost confidence and productivity.
- Compliance. Whereas compliance training tends to be mandatory in many cases, businesses can use compliance training to open dialogue on strengthening the remote working culture.
- Cybersecurity. Human error remains a top reason for many cybersecurity breaches such as ransomware attacks. In a remote working environment, the effectiveness of security software and tech relies on employees knowing how to use it.
- Product training. A flexible and consistent remote training program on company products ensures every employee gets the consistent experience they need to sell and support sales.
- Managing remotely. Remote work has inherent challenges, so managers who learn how to improve the engagement and productivity of their teams can experience greater success.
💡 Have you seen Zavvy's ready-to-use training courses? We cover topics such as change leadership, productivity, and resilience. Getting started, assigning employees, and engaging them on your company's primary communication platforms is super easy.
➡️ Make training a core part of your culture with Zavvy
You might already know the training needs of your workforce. You might have some training materials that worked in the past. You might even have some great resources within the employees. But coordinating everything might give you a headache.
But what if there was a way to run training courses on autopilot while delivering effectiveness and engagement?
- Eliminating manual assignments? ✅
- Seamless and constant reminders? ✅
- Getting rid of outdated training formats? ✅
- Seamless progress-tracking? ✅
- Over 10.000 learning resources in one place? ✅
- Training budget tracking? ✅
Use Zavvy to train and develop remote employees.
Our learning management system has the features to run engaging training programs that meet your team's L&D needs.
Why is training remote employees essential for work efficiency?
Spending resources on training employees communicates that they're valued, and their development is key to the company's success. A well-structured training approach is an investment that can reap big rewards for an organization.
Is virtual training different from remote training?
Yes and no. The essence of remoting training is a physical distance between the learner and instructor. In contrast, virtual training can happen with both parties in the exact location. However, virtual training also takes place remotely.
Both modes leverage technology as much as possible.
How to choose the best remote training software?
Deciding the best tool for supporting remote training depends on your use case. Here are some factors you should consider:
- the intended audience,
- training budget,
- IT capabilities,
- ease of use,
- type of content.
What are the best training topics for remote employees?
The first step of your L&D initiatives should be determining the training courses to deliver. You can do that via a training needs assessment survey.
For example, if your company needs better soft skills, there are multiple topics to consider. Communication, leadership, and time management are just a few topics you can prioritize.
Conversely, focused topics such as cybersecurity, compliance, and product knowledge help to grow competency in particular aspects.
Why don't traditional training methods work for remote employees?
The very nature of remote work means employees need to be engaged differently, which rules out traditional training methods.
Adapting to virtual training methods supports continuous learning and behavior change.