How to Train Remote Employees: The Ultimate Guide for 2021
With the Covid-19 pandemic in our lives since 2020, remote work has become more than ever popular and vital for our professional lives. Even those employers or employees who had never thought of working remotely before had to try this new-age working style and embraced it since it has become more of a necessity than a choice for many organizations.
Remote work became so apparent and inevitable that, especially in case of such the pandemic, people started experiencing working online.
Indeed, remote work is not something that appeared in our lives with the rise of the pandemic, a lot of people all around the world have been working remotely for at least a decade. Remote work is demanded not only by employees, but also the companies. 55% of businesses globally offer some capacity for remote work. Even when they are not totally remote, many companies are remote-friendly and have been preferring this working style for their own benefits.
As a work model, which is widely common across the world, has just turned into a more visible way in business life recently, dragging new concepts with itself.
For employers, managers, and trainers, a new question appeared: How to train remote employees? We understand that having remote employees is still something new for many of us, so we have prepared an ultimate guide for 2021 for the ones who are asking that question to themselves so that they can keep up the pace with the digital transformation seamlessly.
What to Expect From Remote Employees?
Before diving into how to train them, let’s start with getting to know them better – as in this case, they are your target audience. Understanding the target audience is the best way to offer a product or service in the ideal manner, so is training.
Whether you are an employer or a trainer, as you will not be physically in the same room with your employees when they are expected to work remotely, you may need to adapt your expectations from them accordingly. The first step is to adapt and accept this change in your working conditions.
Since your employees will simply be working from their home or anywhere else they choose but not in the office, they may tend to be genuinely motivated during working hours. So this comes back to your business as a great plus.
The best advantage in training remote employees is that you will be communicating with possibly happy people. Statistics show that people who work remotely at least once a month are 24% more likely to be happy and productive. Happy people are much easier to cooperate with and they will be more interested in the online training as they will want to keep this happy lifestyle.
Many other factors contribute to their motivation, such as less time spent commuting to work, being able to work in their comfortable environment, and feeling less under pressure by not feeling physically threatened by their supervisors.
On the other hand, just because there are many positive outcomes for the employees to work remotely, your expectations as their manager should not be set just by considering those positive effects. There are also some negative effects of working remotely such as:
- Being socially isolated and lacking peer support
- Not being able to access information swiftly
- Being exposed to household or any other kind of distractions
- Facing technical issues such as network troubles
All in all, the expectations should be set taking all aspects of remote work into consideration.
All these expectations, advantages and disadvantages are applicable to their training process. Now, we have a good insight to our audience that will take our training. The more we know about their mindset, the better and the more fruitful our training will be.
How to Plan your Training for Remote Employees?
First thing, first. Now we are ready to go into more detail on how to train remote employees.
Remote work is quite different from freelancing, to clear any confusion. Your remote employees are expected to know better their roles for the big picture of your company. This requires impactful transfer of information like you are together in the same office. When they know more about what is going on within the company in general, they will be more productive and less lost in their specific tasks. That is why it is crucial to provide them with good training.
Training can be provided in various ways. Education is a science by itself and knowledge of these ways will help you find the best training plan for your employees.
Now that you might have reconsidered your remote employees’ expectations, it is time to plan your online training with them. To do so, you need to decide which path to take. When we talk about online training, we have three options:
- Synchronous learning
- Asynchronous learning
- Blended learning
Online Training Options
1. Synchronous Learning
This learning style could be the first to come to mind when we talk about remote employee training. Just like the office-style training when all employees are in the same room, there is an instructor, expert, or trainer lecturing employees on any subject.
Synchronous training is when all the employees are online together where they can listen and see the trainer while they can contribute, interact with each other and the instructor as well.
On remote work, this training is almost the same as training in a physical classroom, but this time it is held in a virtual classroom. There are plenty of options for having a complete virtual classroom that will help you with tracking the improvement of the users.
In order to use synchronous learning, as a trainer, you should use an online meeting facilitator such as Zoom, Webex, Join.me, Bluejeans, GoToMeetings, Zoho, GoToTraining, BigBlueButton, and Larksuite. They offer different features considering the interaction and ease of use. Take your time to choose the best option for you. We will mention these options in more detail later.
Advantages of synchronous learning:
- Employees can ask instant questions related to the subject, making the learning process faster and easier for everyone.
- It allows employees to interact with each other simultaneously to share insights about the subject.
- The trainer can adapt their lecture according to the needs of the participants focusing more on topics that are not clearly understood by participants.
- Since it needs a specific time dedication, there might be less distraction for the learners.
Disadvantages of synchronous learning:Ç
As well as the above advantages of this learning and training type, there are also certain disadvantages.
- It is a one-time-only opportunity for all employees to learn the subject and it is usually not repeated.
- Those who cannot attend or miss the training cannot benefit from it – however you can still record the class to share with them as a video.
- It is not ideal for those employees, who need more time to learn.
- There is usually a time restriction making the learning process difficult for employees.
- It could cost more for the employers to arrange this type of training.
- As a trainer, you may choose to use synchronous learning so that you can plan and prepare your training accordingly. Check the advantages and disadvantages of it well and see how you can combine them with your subject.
2. Asynchronous Learning
This type of training is the exact opposite of synchronous learning. It is definitely not a one-time-only training. On the opposite, it can be repeated and reviewed as many times as your employee likes to. There may not even be a trainer. The materials such as videos, presentations, and some tests would be enough to train your remote employees.
In this type of learning, you will need to prepare the training materials and present them to your employees so that they can learn at their own pace and own time. That is highly preferred by people as they don’t have to organize their time according to the training but they can choose their favorite time.
This allows all learners to take their time and self-learn. You can also prepare question and answer sessions or you may want to create a frequently asked questions part so that your learners find answers to their questions. Thanks to this feature, your training will be interactive even if it is less than a live online class.
There is usually a final assessment in such training materials to decide whether an employee could pass the training or needs to repeat it.
Advantages of asynchronous training:
Asynchronous training could be very advantageous in some cases. Some advantages are:
- It reduces the stress on learners by giving them more time.
- It allows them to learn at their own pace without a need to hurry.
- It has the visuals and videos as well as readings so it can address all learners.
Disadvantages of asynchronous training:
- On the other hand, some of the disadvantages of this learning are:
- It does not encourage interaction as much as the other learning style.
- The learner cannot ask an instant question to the trainers.
- The learning process could be interrupted or there could be distractions during learning.
If you decide to use this type of training, you need to prepare your materials very well and present them to your employees.
3. Blended Learning
As it may be derived from its name, blended learning is an excellent combination of both asynchronous and synchronous learning. As the trainer, you may decide which parts need to be delivered simultaneously and which subjects should be given to the learners to study independently. You can also use other online courses from prestigious instructors to train your employees with this kind of learning system.
For the assessment, you may use both styles and have a written and oral test to evaluate their performance and understanding of the training materials.
As it is totally up to you how to blend the learning types, we cannot suggest certain advantages or disadvantages for this style. Wherever you see that you need to adapt or change, you will be able to use the best techniques for your remote employees’ training.
It will not be wrong to say this is the most effective way to train them. Why? Because you can choose which subject needs a trainer available in a virtual classroom with the employers and which one is better for them to take their time and learn in a more flexible timing. In this way, you will also be more available for them if they need to ask questions or learn more.
Which Tools to Use in Your Online Training?
Nowadays, there are plenty of handy and user-friendly remote working tools. First of all, you need a good communication tool such as Zoom so that employees can chat both individually and in teams or groups. Also the SaaS sector is improving so fast that you can always find amazing options to deliver your training plan just like you want.
As well as a communication tool, you will also need a webinar or conference call tool to perform online meetings whenever needed. Most of those tools offer many features that are still being updated day by day and offer breakout rooms, online surveys, and other functions that the trainer might need during the training session.
In order to be on the same page for everyone, you may need to use an LMS platform. LMS stands for learning management system and is widely used by many companies, organizations, and small or big businesses. This system allows all the necessary information to be in one place and can be tracked and supervised by all employees. You may even use LMS to keep track of your employees’ progress in your training program.
How to deliver the training eventually?
As we have explained above, if you follow the plan you prepared for your teachings, you can be ready to deliver your online training. You can either set a date for synchronous training or prepare all the materials, upload them on the LMS system, set dates and deadlines, and finally just click start.
The most important part of being ready to train remote employees is to understand their needs, strengths, and weaknesses. As long as you are aware of the requirements, you will plan the training accordingly using all the online tools mentioned above.