Although remote work has already been present for some time, the pandemic meant that more businesses and organizations have embraced it. With today's “new normal,” it seems that this work setup will still be prevalent for more years to come.
Remote work has many benefits. However, this new work setup has also brought challenges for businesses — especially regarding team onboarding and training. It has raised the question: "How can we ensure employees get the best training and learn our operations despite our inability to oversee and interact with them physically?"
This article focuses on how to get the best from your remote teams from the very beginning through effective training.
Why Should You Train Remote Employees?
Like any other team member, when hiring remote workers also need training to give them the skills and understanding they need in order to be successful. Training remote employees will also help them acquire essential knowledge they need to perform efficiently.
Here are some reasons why you should train remote employees:
Most people who are looking for a job nowadays search for learning and development opportunities. Training remote employees will help them upskill for their talents to grow and reach their career and personal goals. When this happens, they become satisfied and will stay with you for a long time.
An organization has several processes which employees become familiarized with through training. This provides everyone with a clear vision of what happens in the business, and they will know who to reach out to when they need assistance.
Relevant Skills and Knowledge
Every employee already possesses a skill set, and training can help these skills fresh. Learning sessions can help remote workers to refresh their existing skills and update them to keep pace with the competitive labor market.
Onboarding training aims to help new employees adapt to the business in minimal time. When your training plan is detailed and well-organized, employees can easily perform their duties well and provide quality deliverables, reducing the chances of workflow disruptions.
Flexibility and Performance
Training remote employees is usually self-paced, meaning, they can complete it on their own time. Employees will not feel pressured to learn all the materials immediately, giving them time to learn the business process more thoroughly and improve the quality of their deliverables.
What Areas Should Be Included in Remote Employee Training?
Topics included in remote employee training are usually the same as those needed for employees working at the office. However, there are some areas considered significant and essential for their work setup.
Below are some of the topics you should include in your training regimen for remote workers:
Remote work is not possible without the internet. It allows workers to connect with their teammates as well as clients. Since they work remotely, employees often set up their own IT systems or sometimes connect to the internet using public Wi-Fi. However, these work setups can make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks such as phishing and viruses. After all, most cyberattacks target team members’ devices rather than top management.
When remote employees fall victim to cyberattacks, cybercriminals can gain access to crucial information about the business. In worst-case scenarios, cyberattacks can lead to legal disputes and a loss of vital resources. This is why it is important for remote workers to be familiarized with your business’s cybersecurity policies. Make them understand how crucial it is to get their devices safe from these attacks and show them ways they can avoid becoming prey to them.
2. Company Culture
Although they do not work in a physical office space, remote employees are still part of your organization. This means that they must still be acquainted with your remote company culture. Through this, you can promote a healthy and productive work environment for all employees.
As part of their training, you communicate your organization’s vision and values. Also include ways on how they can uphold the company culture while working or interacting with their colleagues. This will help them keep engaged and connected to your organization as well as enjoy their time working.
3. Roles and Responsibilities
When remote employees have a clear understanding of their duties and responsibilities, they can fulfill their roles and work more efficiently, especially when they are new to the company. Training employees means that you must let them know what is expected of them daily as well as how and when their work should be delivered. Your training agenda about their roles and responsibilities should also involve how important their role is to the business as well as who their leaders are.
4. Functional Skills
Performing their job well as well fulfilling their roles and responsibilities require skills. Training remote employees about these skills can also benefit them, as these can help them get promoted and are important for upskilling.
When training remote employees, it is important to include hard skills as well as soft skills. Hard skills include the technical skills they will need for the job such as data analytics, coding, marketing, and computer skills. On the other hand, soft skills include those that can help employees work and interact with their peers such as teamwork, effective communication, time management, and even empathy. Providing training for remote employees on these skills will not only help them be productive but also promote a healthy work environment.
What Are the Biggest Challenges of Remote Employee Training?
As great as remote work can be for your business, there are still challenges to training remote employees. After all, their work setup makes them prone to technical and connection issues. Here are some of the most common challenges organizations face in training remote employees.
1. Timing and Scheduling
Usually, training sessions are done on a specified date at a specified location. However, with remote employees, commitments other than work or different time zones may get in the way of their availability.
2. Technical Issues
As we mentioned before, the internet and technology makes remote work possible. However, software does not function properly all the time and technical issues can quickly interrupt training sessions.
3. Access to Information
Training remote employees requires materials to help them better understand the topic. However, because of complex tools and different access levels, trainees may not have access to them which can disrupt their learning process. However, getting access is not always quick and easy. You will have to undergo several people and processes to gain access which will take time and can delay training.
4. Lack of Supervision
One of the main challenges to training remote employees is the lack of supervision. Remote employees can get distracted due to their work setup and may become unresponsive. This will disrupt the training schedule and affect how well remote employees will understand the training topics.
5. Employees Feeling Under Supported
Remote work is inherently isolating and training remotely can amplify this feeling. This may cause learners to feel left behind which can affect their learning process.
Tips On Training Remote Employees
The challenges imposed by the remote work setup change the way you train remote employees. You will have to think of ways to make training accessible to them as well as make materials engaging and informative. Here are some tips on how to train a new employee remotely.
Keep Training Materials Centralized
Upskilling is an important part of working. Remote employees are satisfied when they can learn something new on top of what they currently know. However, they might get confused when training materials are stored in different sources. It also makes it hard for them to access materials when they need them. You can use a learning management system (LMS) to keep all your training files in one place, whether they be documents, job aids, or even videos. Doing so can ensure your remote employees get high-quality training which you can implement on future new employees.
Kickoff Training Effectively
Training is essential for remote employees before they start even working. It's important that before they start the training program, they should have an idea of what the training is all about.
The orientation lesson does not have to be long, but should simply cover the following topics:
- Goals and expected outcomes of the training
- Overview of the training content
- Contact person for questions and concerns
- Course or training guidelines
You can also discuss rules and training etiquette during the orientation class to ensure sessions go smoothly once you begin.
Schedule Training In Advance
We mentioned in the preceding section that availability can become an issue for training sessions. To ensure that trainees can attend the training sessions, schedule them ahead of time. This way, they can free up their schedules on the proposed dates and can attend training sessions normally without any other commitments. You can send calendar invites to them so they can be reminded of the schedule.
Track Individual Progress
Although training for remote employees is usually self-paced, it is still important to check in on them every once in a while, to make sure they are going according to schedule. After all, they are still required to start working at a specified date, by which the training must have been finished. Reach out to them and ask which topics they have finished and which ones they will take next. You can also ask them questions about the topics they are done with to ensure they’ve learned something.
Whether employees are training in-house or remotely, it is important that they can have all the support they need. For remote employees, training all by themselves can be quite challenging, as they are alone and have no one to ask questions or bounce ideas off. Make sure you entertain their questions and respond to them as well as provide additional support when needed.
Learning new topics can be challenging especially if learning materials are not engaging enough. Creating interactive learning programs will keep remote employees engaged in what they are learning. These types of learning programs can also make training sessions fun for them which will keep them from being distracted. Try to include games in your training programs. Insert fun facts and host live webinars from time to time. After all, learning can be fun, too!