Training Your Remote Workforce: 5 Tips for Success

WFH CozyWorking from home was once treated as a perk. Then it turned into a sign of a forward-thinking company. And now, employees all over the US are working from home out of necessity. 

Read More: How COVID-19 Led to a Nationwide Work-From-Home Experiment

Brookings Institution reported that 23.7% of American employees worked some hours from home on an average day in 2018. Fast forward to Spring 2020, when 88% of organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home, according to a March 17 Gartner, Inc. survey. 

This new “normal” has exposed the many benefits of remote work, but at the same time, it has forced previously on-site-only companies into a challenging adjustment period. Those challenges are especially relevant to those who are tasked with training a remote workforce from a remote location.

As Brian Kropp, chief of research for the Gartner HR practice put it, “As the COVID-19 crisis disrupts organizations across the globe, HR leaders must respond quickly and comprehensively, considering both immediate and long-term talent consequences.”

Fortunately, training a remote workforce can be done. 

 

Advantages of Working Remotely

First things first: as you encounter any struggles with training a remote workforce, it is helpful to keep the benefits of working remotely in mind. Doing so can generate gratitude for some of the silver linings in these turbulent times, thus giving you the patience and clarity to develop a new approach to your training initiatives. Health and Safety

Right now, working from home is protecting employees from contracting and spreading COVID-19, but there are more ways that working from home can help your employees’ health.

With flexible working from home schedules, your employees have more time for physical activity, they can prepare healthier meals, and most importantly, they feel comfortable to properly care for their overall wellbeing.

 

Independent Employees

By allowing your employees to set schedules that work for them, you can develop independent and empowered employees that know how to set a stage that helps them to perform their best.

Some people will be extremely structured with their day and track everything on their calendars, while others may appreciate the ability to jump from task to task in a more relaxed environment. Working from home gives a bit of ease to your employees and encourages them to develop the skills needed to be self-motivated and optimally productive.

 

Cut Out Commute Times

It may not seem like a big deal to employers, but for an employee to get an hour or more back in their day could mean more time taking care of their family, supporting their mental health with exercise or a hobby, and feeling more relaxed and in control.

In addition, keeping cars off of the roads saves your employees money while protecting the environment!

 

Increased Productivity

Many employers hold a preconceived notion that employees will be distracted at home, wander away from their computer and fall behind on their deadlines. Luckily for everyone, the opposite seems to be true.

In Stanford University’s two-year remote work productivity study, the researchers followed 500 employees after dividing them into “remote” and “traditional” working groups. The remote working group showed an increase in work productivity while also taking fewer sick days.

 

 

Tips for Training Remotely

By keeping those positive benefits of the situation in mind, you prepare yourself to overcome any bumps in the road as you shift to remote training. Here are some specific tips for doing so.

 

Tip 1: Utilize Technology

In today’s age of technology, working remotely doesn’t mean that you have to work alone. There are tons of tools to connect teams through audio, video, messaging and document collaboration. At Roundtable Learning, we take advantage of GSuite, Slack, Google Hangouts, Trello, Zoom, and Smartsheet.

 

Tip 2: Set Measurable Outcomes

It’s going to be difficult to measure your employees’ training performance if you don’t have goals set for them. Working with your team leaders to develop SMART goals and make sure your training leads to accomplishing those goals. Set clear deadlines and create assessments that measure learning objectives.

 

Tip 3: Keep Communication Open

Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Make conscious efforts to stay connected. Teams may have daily meetings, managers should have one-on-one conversations regularly, and as someone leading a training program, you should check in on your training employees regularly.

Whether you create a Slack channel, start an email chain or schedule video conferencing, keeping open communications will encourage your employees to ask questions and collaborate on the training materials. Consider assigning peer partners or even mentors to help advise and guide learners through the training materials.

 

Tip 4: Create Clear Expectations

For all of the previous tips, create clear expectations for your employees. If everyone knows when and where to find their colleagues and how to get in touch with them when needed, it brings everyone together. The Roundtable Marketing team keeps our Slack status’ up to date when we are in meetings, at lunch or online.

 

Tip 5: Set Up a Functional Workspace

Remember that not all employees will have the ability to build a functional workspace on their own. Nearly 10% of working-age adults do not have a home broadband connection, according to American Community Survey data. Help your employees find the right hardware and software to work seamlessly with their colleagues.

 

 

eLearning and Remote Training

Electronic Learning, more commonly referred to as eLearning, is a broad term used to describe the delivery of training materials through electronic (and digital) resources. 

In today’s day and age, eLearning can be hosted online or through a local network, and it commonly uses a Learning Management System (LMS). But the content can come in a variety of shapes and sizes including interactive modules, videos, podcasts, slideshows, documents, webinars, and more. 

Because of its online nature, eLearning pairs naturally with remote training programs. You can make your content easily deployable and accessible — two must-haves in these uncertain times. Many eLearning platforms allow a training manager to assign training materials, track progress and measure results remotely.

 

WFH with DogHappy To Be a Resource

What other questions or concerns do you have? We’re here to consult with you about your training needs — remote or otherwise. Don’t hesitate to use us as a resource; it goes without saying that we’re in this together!

P.S.: The most important thing to remember is this: Everyone wants to see your pets, so don’t apologize for your furry friend crashing the video meeting!