A guide for training remote workers

remote worker training 

No matter what line of work, employees today are required to demonstrate a certain level of skill in their jobs. When there is a distinct difference between the expected and actual performance of an employee, it may be time for their employer to upskill or reskill them through training programs. 

Interestingly, research indicates that employees actually like to receive training from their employers. In 2021, TalentLMS surveyed 1,000 remote workers across the US and determined that workforce training positively impacts their performance, happiness, and company loyalty. 50% of the respondents had received employer training in the past 12 months while the other half had not. Out of those that hadn’t, 78% wanted their employers to provide training opportunities. So, efforts to train your workforce can actually be a win-win.

The challenge of training remote workers

Remote training can be challenging for both learners and trainers. Without the in-person, classroom type learning environment, it can be harder for trainers to design engaging content and create a distraction-free atmosphere. Scheduling issues can also arise for workers in different time zones, and disruption in connectivity can be a source of frustration. Finally, trainers cannot directly monitor progress or help those falling behind, which can diminish the impact of the program. 

To create a well-thought out training program, the first step should be to assess workers’ needs. Any insights gleaned at this step must drive the content of the program, with the design and delivery of the training aligned with worker needs and organizational capabilities. Upon implementation, results must be monitored closely with feedback taken from both trainers and learners. The critical steps that can be taken to avoid costly mistakes are detailed below.

1. Needs Assessment 

Most teams are comprised of employees with different educational backgrounds and skill sets, at various stages of learning on the job. This means that everyone has different training needs and blanket programs will not be useful. Individual assessments of every employee are necessary to identify their training requirements.

This is done so through a technique called a ‘needs analysis’, a vital first step to create an effective program. Simply put, this technique helps determine which employees require what kinds of training, and in what timeframe. Employees are evaluated on three fronts: knowledge, skills, and abilities. Some of the standard needs analysis techniques include direct observation, questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and consultations with key persons.

Managers can identify areas of weakness (knowledge and skills gaps) and preferred methods of learning, and then design the training program informed by this information.

2. Training Program Design

Keep the needs assessment at the forefront. The checklist of employee preferences collected from a needs analysis should be used to drive the program. This ensures that employees feel they are heard and are being catered to, and training content can be more engaging when it directly targets their needs.

Pay attention to employee constraints. For example, the timing and dates of training must ensure that all workers can fit the sessions into their schedules (calendar tools are useful in this regard). Moreover, with remote learning attention spans can be be shorter, so sessions should be kept short with regular breaks.

Always create and circulate an agenda. Prior to every training session, create a detailed agenda and circulate it. It should detail the topics to be covered, orient learners to the learning objectives, and include ground rules regarding mobile phone usage, asking questions, or cross talking. A detailed agenda can ensure that the session runs smoothly, has greater engagement, and all important content is covered.

Incentivise participation and achievement. To keep employees motivated, they can be rewarded for completion of each module. Training tool features, such as leaderboards that highlight individual engagement, can be used to give ratings or stars for participation. Electronic certifications at the end of a program can be used to acknowledge employee efforts

3. Training Delivery 

Choose the right method. Training can be delivered through either a synchronous or an asynchronous model. In synchronous learning, employees simultaneously engage in learning activities together. In asynchronous learning, they learn at their own pace within a certain timeframe, allowing flexibility. Blended learning mixes both the models together to create greater customization.

Choose the right tools. To deal with different geographical distances, time zones, and the general complexity of remote training, it is important to use the right tools for delivering your training. Many virtual training platform options exist in the market that enable training through webinars, lectures, workshops and peer-to-peer learning.

Keep backup support. Sometimes, unexpected events can result in technology disruptions during training. In that case, it is important to keep backup support teams that can resolve any issues instantly, such as a back up for electricity and internet. 

Keep a central system. LMS, or learning management systems, are priceless tools which help an organization streamline, administer and document their training. Personalized training courses can be built according to employees’ needs. It also allows you to keep all training materials in one place, enabling access to each employee’s data and training progress.

4. Results Monitoring 

Create and track KPIs. Attendance tracking, skills assessment, and course completion rates are some standard KPIs managers use to assess the effectiveness of training programs. These can be tracked via simple tools like the MS Office Suite, or more sophisticated solutions available on the market.

LMS reporting. An LMS helps organizations track training results through its reporting feature. It provides quick, user-friendly reports on metrics such as user activity and performance to gauge effectiveness. For example, if employees are taking longer to progress through a particular module, it will help the trainer assess whether the module difficulty needs to be altered.

Kirkpatrick’s model. This is an internationally recognized tool used to analyze the effectiveness of training programs. It has 4 levels of evaluation: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. ‘Reaction’ measures whether learners find the training engaging and favorable. ‘Learning’ measures the knowledge gained by learners after the program. ‘Behavior’ measures how well learners apply their training. ‘Results’ measures the learning against KPIs established before the training such as ROI, volume of sales, etc.

5. Feedback and Adjustment 

Capture employee feedback. Regular feedback from employees will help determine whether the resources invested in training are bearing fruit. Surveys can capture the right amount of information through concise questions, like multiple choice questions, which enable quick feedback, or open-ended ones where thorough explanations can be given. It’s a good idea to allow the option to be anonymous to encourage participation and honesty.

Capture trainer feedback. Since trainers spend a considerable amount of time with employees during the program, they are a good source of feedback. They can shed light on what content needs further revision, which employees need further training, or what parts of the training program need to be adjusted.  

Tweak and implement. To improve training programs for the future, it is important to adjust them according to the feedback received. This way, a virtuous loop of sorts can be created, with constant cycles of feedback and adjustment serving to continuously improve training programs and increase their effectiveness.   

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