Remote and hybrid work environments are the way of the world now, even though we could have done without the pandemic leading us there.
In today’s world, if you don’t feel like getting ready for work, it’s less of a big deal when it doesn’t involve a commute and you can remain in your pajamas unless your day requires an on-camera Zoom or Teams appearance.
Despite the more casual nature of the hybrid or remote work environment, training is still serious business and needs to continue. And employees want training. The Academy to Innovate HR reported 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025 and 67% of employees working remotely would like more training.
Besides, keeping up with training pays great dividends. It can increase employee productivity, staff retention and the morale of the team.
Doing some groundwork before offering training is beneficial, including looking at the current format of work. What tasks or projects are better done in person versus remotely? Can there be meetings where some attend in person and others are patched in remotely? Does a proximity bias exist in your organization where those associates with constant access to bosses are treated preferentially to those working from home? How is performance being accessed? What are the networking possibilities and ways to celebrate employee achievements? Consider providing specific expectations. What is the level of control and trust being shown by leaders to employees? Are daily Teams calls at 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. really necessary, or is this just the supervisor’s way of “keeping track” of the team?
Once you’ve considered the framework of work, look at the benefits of remote learning. There is consistency in remote training and employees are refining their knowledge and skills. Remote learning is affordable since you’re doing without all the travel logistics and loss of productivity involved when you’re gathering everyone together in one spot. Remote training can also have built-in possibilities to be revisited when desired or aspects where employees learn at their own pace. Rather than seeing a PowerPoint slide for a fleeting moment and not fully grasping the concept or content, associates can toggle back and forth between slides or linger at their own pace when given the chance. One to three minutes per slide can seem like an eternity, but if the content is compelling, associates may want enough time to take a screen shot, take additional notes, or revisit the presentation.
There are also challenges to remote training, whether real or perceived. Any training that occurs without the presenter and audience seeing each other may be viewed as impersonal. Depending on the format, there may not be opportunities for interaction among associates, questions & answers (Q & A) or feedback. The spontaneous distractions of working from home can come into play.
Here are some preferred practices to consider when preparing for remote training:
Mix it up: If the training is more than a single session, such as a program where a certificate or license is the end goal, make some of the training self-paced with an established deadline. This enables employees to have the flexibility of accessing training opportunities when they are at their best. You can also offer a live presentation by an instructor, Q & A, exercises to complete or responses to share.
Make it mobile. Just because employees are not in the office doesn’t mean they are working from within their home. They may be tuning in while outside or at a coffee shop with a hand-held device. Some may have Zoom fatigue, but the platform does offer easy mobile friendly access, chat and Q &A features many are familiar with already.
Create a supportive space. Let teammates share their thoughts and helpful tips they’ve discovered related to training topics and implementation.
Assess effectiveness. Ever been to training where there was not a plan to actually implement on the job what was learned and so the energy generated from the training quickly dissipated? Survey the effectiveness of the training, including asking how associates can transfer what they just learned to their own jobs. If you see uncertainty, follow up and assist.
Reward participants. Provide a certificate of completion. Consider adding opportunities for participation, giving attendees the chance to earn points for swag or other company incentive, or to be entered to win a gift card as a result of their involvement. Make sure training participation is documented in the employee’s next performance appraisal as a continuing education achievement.
Find a delivery method that works. Every company is different, and some have learning management systems to deliver training and track progress. Others rely on old-school methods of emailing the training so employees can download it. Some organizations have a password-accessed portal where all key correspondence is shared and participants are already familiar with the settings.
Above all, even though everyone is not in the same room or accessing the training at the same time, remote training can be delivered successfully and collaboratively to help ensure employees share ongoing learning as a priority and stay connected with their employer and each other.