How Remote Training Can Benefit Your Organization in Times of Pandemic –
The COVID-19 pandemic has made what many had previously thought was impossible to achieve: sending employees home and allowing them to work from there. What was once a privilege for some employees has now become the new normal for many. Industry experts predict that about 70% of the global workforce will adopt a remote work set-up at least five days a month by 2025. At present, tech titans such as Dell and Twitter are offering permanent flexible working options much to the relief of their employees. Other industry leaders such as Deloitte and American Express, to name a few, are also adopting a flexible working arrangement, signaling that remote work is here to stay–with or without a pandemic. As a result, remote training is becoming an integral part of running a company’s operations. In this article, we will discuss how remote training can benefit a company, its challenges and ways to overcome them, as well as the role of a learning management system.
What is remote training?
Remote training refers to the process of coaching and upskilling an employee from a distance. It relies on technology to facilitate the training and often takes the form of webinars, online courses, podcasts, and virtual classes, among others. Remote training is essentially similar to virtual training where the learner and instructor are not physically present in the same room. There are two types of remote training: synchronous and asynchronous.
Synchronous remote training
Synchronous remote training happens when the learner and instructor interact at the same time but in different locations. The exchange happens in real-time and may involve a group of trainees. Some common examples of synchronous training are virtual classrooms, remote desktop demonstrations, live webinars, and instant messaging. This type of training promotes engagement and interaction between the trainee and instructor. It also addresses gaps especially when the student needs to follow up on a topic or clarify something. Additionally, synchronous training enables trainees to ask questions and receive the answers immediately. However, this method could be more costly than asynchronous training as it requires the participants and instructors to be present at the same time. If there are multiple students involved, the pace of teaching may not always match the level of comprehension of every participant, potentially leaving slow learners behind.
Asynchronous remote training
Meanwhile, asynchronous training does not require the instructor and trainees to be present at the same time. This allows the students to learn at their own pace with little help from the instructor and get access to the learning materials at any time. This method is perfect for those with a busy schedule as it can be conducted at the participant’s most convenient time. It is also more cost-efficient than synchronous training as it does not require any travel expenses. Students are given the freedom to skip topics that they already know, providing a more flexible and agile learning process. Some examples of asynchronous remote training are shared document storage and podcasts. However, this type of remote training leaves very little room for collaboration. The students would not be able to get answers and feedback right away compared with a real-time set-up. As it is a self-paced training, this method requires extra motivation from the learner to complete.
How to know if my organization needs remote training
Remote training offers a wealth of opportunities, but as attractive as it may be, this method does not suit all employees. Take a look at the following factors if you are wondering whether your company would benefit from remote training.
- Your staff turnover is high
Recent studies show that professional development remains a key motivating factor among employees. This allows the workforce to have up-to-date skills and knowledge while ensuring efficiency and productivity. If your turnover rate is high, you may have to revisit what kind of growth opportunities you are giving to your staff. Employees who have regular access to training resources, whether they be professional or self-development, are likely to become more motivated to stay in a company.
- You need to stay updated with regulatory requirements
Keeping up with regulatory demands is essential for most industries. For example, financial services companies may need to revise or create policies to comply with the changing regulatory environment. Creating online certification and refresher courses is ideal in this scenario as it will enable your employees to access these training materials depending on their schedule.
- Your employees are geographically diverse
Are your employees located in different parts of the world and work in various time zones? If so, you must make sure that all of them are given the same quality of training regardless of where they are. Remote training is recommended for companies whose employees are located in different countries as the logistics are less complex while the cost is reduced.
If you are also one of the many companies who chose to shift a significant portion of their workforce to a work-from-home set-up, then remote training is necessary.
- Low engagement among remote workers
One of the main challenges of a remote work set-up is the tendency to have less engagement and collaboration between employees. Aside from regular check-ins and virtual huddles, this sense of disconnection can be addressed by organizing online courses specifically designed for each team where employees are expected to actively participate. Remote training can also stimulate employee engagement by using interactive virtual resources and tools.
Benefits of remote training
In a traditional setup, conducting employee training sessions require an engaging and qualified speaker, which means additional cost to cover the professional fee. You also have to consider other factors such as meal and travel expenses, as well as printing fees. On top of these, you need to take into account the loss output as you arrange the logistics required in conducting physical training. Remote training resolves this cost burden because you no longer have to splurge money to bring the speaker and the attendees to one place. You also get to save on printing costs since the training materials used for remote learning are stored online. If you need to update something, all you have to do is edit the file and notify the attendees about the change.
Let’s admit it. Attending training, particularly those for compliance and regulatory requirements, can sometimes be a hassle especially when work deadlines are approaching. With remote training, the employee gets to decide when to start the lesson or modules, depending on their schedule. This flexibility also contributes to the employee’s productivity by making sure that learning takes place during the most convenient schedule and not at the expense of other equally important tasks at work.
Personalized learning experiences
One of the major benefits of remote training is that it allows employees to learn at their own pace. Learners are also allowed to tailor their learning curve based on their desired schedule while being able to focus on topics that they think are more relevant to their profession.
All training materials used for remote training are stored on a centralized online database. This means learners can revisit these tools anytime should they need to review or clarify certain concepts that are not clear to them. Depending on the available resources, remote training also enables employees to access information using their desired format, such as audio, video, or a combination of both, thereby acknowledging employees’ unique learning styles. Having a centralized database of training materials also has its scientific merits. According to neuroscience studies, people tend to learn better using distributed practice, a method by which the learner consumes information over many but spaced-out sessions. This is opposed to mass practice where the learner conducts fewer but longer study sessions.
Offering a variety of training opportunities to your employees makes them feel appreciated and wanted. According to a survey by human resource services provider ProSky, the potential for career growth and development was among the five things that millennials look for in a job. A 2019 report by the professional networking site LinkedIn also found that 94% of its survey respondents said they would stick with their companies longer if there were learning and development opportunities. Remote training can help your staff better understand their role in the company and let them know that there are opportunities for growth within their post while making sure that their skills remain relevant and up-to-date.
Challenges of remote training
Having the capacity to conduct remote training is a boon for employees who are looking to enjoy flexibility at work. But this does not come without any hurdles, too, particularly for employers. Here are the common challenges of facilitating remote training.
Imagine taking an online training course when the power gets cut or the Wi-Fi connection suddenly fluctuates. These are just some of the technological challenges that inevitably come as companies shift to remote work. Since remote training largely relies on technology, even a brief disruption to the connection could impact the overall learning experience. Some employees who are not technologically adept may also find a hard time keeping up with the use of online training tools.
While allowing employees to work anywhere gives them flexibility, it also opens the door to distractions, especially if work is done at home. Distractions may include family responsibilities, house chores, and even self-imposed interruptions such as procrastinating. Background noise such as dogs barking can also interrupt the flow of your remote training, though this can be addressed by employing noise-canceling headphones.
Lack of collaboration
Due to a lack of physical interaction, remote training may be perceived as impersonal. Facial expressions and gestures are great communication cues that add depth to a conversation. Unfortunately, migrating the discourse to an online platform leaves little room for these social cues. If you are conducting asynchronous training, receiving feedback may take longer than usual. If the trainee has questions or clarifications, it may take a while before getting an answer, potentially disrupting the learning momentum. Additionally, the attention of the trainee could be divided since the session is not being conducted face-to-face.
Ways to improve remote training
Invest in remote training tools
One of the most cost-effective ways to facilitate remote training is by investing in a learning management system (LMS), a software application that monitors and reports e-training programs. Some of the most popular learning management systems are Moodle, Edmodo, Blackboard, Skillsoft, and Cornerstone. An LMS allows you to create, update and store your learning materials online; add employees to your system anywhere and anytime; track the progress of each learner; and host webinars and conduct live Q&A forums. To make your remote training more effective, you should also consider using as many formats as possible. You can combine synchronous and asynchronous training (blended learning) and employ a mixture of formats such as audio, worksheets, presentations, videos, checklists, and instructor-led training. You also need to make your training materials mobile-friendly as employees do not always have access to their laptops, especially those who want to complete their training outside working hours.
Pin down the skills gap
When preparing your remote training plan, it is important to identify your company’s goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). Do your employees possess the relevant skills to contribute to the company’s growth? If not, how would training fill the skills gap? You can also identify your top-performing employees as a benchmark against employees who lack skills.
In corporate training, gamification refers to techniques that resemble gaming design elements so that the learning experience becomes engaging and proactive. Research shows that learning and development are more efficient when the participants are immersed in an engaging journey. Some examples of gamification features that you can incorporate into your remote training process are the use of a leaderboard system, badges, and points, as well as certificates once the employee has completed a program. Gamification is a great way to promote knowledge retention while recognizing their achievements.
Ask for feedback
You should document your entire remote training process to evaluate where you succeeded and which areas you should improve on. It is important to ask for feedback to recognize your room for improvement. You can distribute surveys at the end of every session or conduct a Q&A to address any issues.
Remote training provides a wealth of opportunities to companies and employees, especially at a time when the corporate landscape is adopting a work-from-home set-up due to the pandemic. It is a necessary step to adapt to the changing workspace challenges and improve productivity while saving on training costs. However, it also comes with challenges such as technological disruptions and vulnerability to distractions that should be addressed so as not to interfere with the learning process. As an employer, you should take into account what your employees need to better contribute to the company’s growth targets and maximize the availability of software tools to be able to create solid learning materials.