Introduction

Remote work is rapidly becoming the new normal, with more companies embracing its potential and possibilities. More flexible and less costly, remote working is suitable for most industries. However, for remote workers to deliver their best performance, they have to be trained properly. Good remote work training requires a strategic plan.

A recent study by MindEdge/HRCI revealed that 60% of HR professionals did not offer training to their remote workers. This is not a risk you should take.

Main challenges of remote work

In a 2020 study by Growmotely, 74% of professionals revealed that they expect remote work to become more common and revolutionize the traditional workplace. There are a few challenges to reckon with initially.

●       Lack of supervision

Face-to –face communication is one of the cornerstones of office culture. Managers find it easier to establish a personal connection and be supervisors when they can meet the employees regularly and have established a layer or trust. Employees get to know their managers more closely through direct conversation and can begin to feel more connected to the manager.

However, monitoring remote work is not difficult with the help of project management tools and task trackers. Managers can monitor hov w much time employees are spending on their work and track their performance trends. Employees might feel that managers are unaware of their needs in a remote workplace which is why constant communication is essential.

●       Different time zones and language barriers

A global workplace is going to run into the problem of employees being in different time zones and having trouble communicating because of language barriers. Members of the same team have to use virtual modes of communication and it can be difficult to create a seamless work experience. However, there are solutions that you should consider. You can find time zones that match at least periodically and encourage employees to find points of similarity. Make the team feel connected by introducing more team building exercises.

●     Motivating employees and increasing productivity

New remote workers who are yet to adjust their lifestyle may not perform up to their potential. Managers have to go the extra mile and motivate employees to deliver their best work. Metrics and goals can encourage employees to improve since they will be able to track their progress. Cultivating an atmosphere of friendly competition will also keep your employees on their toes.  It is also important to discuss effective ways of increasing productivity during the training period.

frontline employee going thorugh a virtual training session

How to train remote employees?

For training remote employees, you can employ the following methods in your long-term training strategy:

●       Set short-term and long-term goals

In order to motivate your employees, you can set goals for them to fulfill. Employees will feel more motivated once you make your expectations clear. Short-term goals will give them a sense of immediate achievement while long-term goals will encourage them to upskill. An effective remote work training program will last for weeks and even months.

●       Prioritize trust-building exercises

Remote work is rooted in successful virtual relationships. It is important for managers and employees to have the same kind of relationship they would have had if they had met offline. Trust is essential when it comes to remote work. Managers should be able to have faith in the employees’ dedication to finishing their daily work.

On the other hand, remote employees belonging to a single team have to develop a team spirit. Incorporating team-building exercises in the training program is a great way of laying the foundation of these relationships.

●       Teach your employees effective remote work tips

Giving your remote employees some handy tips during the training program will improve their performance significantly in the long run. The following tips about how to work remotely effectively can be helpful:

  • Working at fixed hours every day
  • Setting daily targets and making a to-do list
  • Have a daily touch-base with your team to stay aligned

●       Monitor their work and training

As a manager, you have to supervise the employees under you as closely as possible so there is little room for error. However, many managers try to overcompensate for the lack of face-to-face interaction and end up suffocating the employees. It is important to give them some room to learn and grow while monitoring their progress.

Rely on metrics to figure out whether they are following the lessons and test them from time to time. You can also schedule a monthly meeting with them to discuss their performance trends.

●       Encourage soft skill training

At the 2020 SHRM Talent Conference, it was revealed that 97% of employers view soft skills to be as important, if not more important, than hard skills.

If you are yet to include soft skills training in your program, then you should because employees who lack the correct professional attitude are unlikely to fit into the work culture of the company.

●       Be responsive to new employees

New remote employees may be nervous to begin the new role, and they need that extra bit of support to get them through the first few weeks. It might be a good idea to be a little more responsive to them. You can also ask them about their day and take their feedback to know whether your training program is supporting the onboarding process.

Pairing the new employee up with a mentor or colleague that can take them under their wing and help them through any trouble can make the first few weeks more effective. Daily check-ins are important to ensure they are on track and learning the material that will be important for their role.

●       Provide virtual training materials in different formats

For successful remote skill-building, you have to provide your employees with all the necessary resources in accessible formats. It is expected that remote employees will use a variety of tools in their daily work life and being able to access the learning materials from all of them will make the training simpler.

It is also important to remember that employees might be partial to a particular way of learning and hence a variety of training content will cater to everyone. For example, some might be visual learners while others could be audio learners. Supplement text-heavy documents with multimedia so that employees feel more engaged.

●       Encourage microlearning

Microlearning, one of the biggest remote work trends, is an effective way of consuming a large body of knowledge in tiny portions. New remote employees might be overwhelmed if they are expected to go through all the training materials at once; hence, microlearning can be a great tool. They can learn as they do and carry over the experience to the following lessons.

According to the Journal of Applied Psychology, micro-learning can be 17% more efficient than traditional learning. A platform like Bites can help cultivate a practice of microlearning within the workplace because it allows you to upload small video modules covering any topic of your choice and make a comprehensive playlist for your employees to follow.

remote employes on a virtual meeting

How to support remote employees?

Managers can make the transition to remote work easier for employees in the following ways:

●       Provide equipment

Setting up a dedicated workspace is one of the most effective ways of ensuring a productive workday for remote employees. However, all of them might not have the financial ability to buy all the necessary equipment and gadgets. Providing them with a few components of their work set-up including a desk, office chair and monitor, is a way to ensure they are set up for success.

●       Allow flexible schedules

The 2019 State of Remote Work by Buffer finds that 40% of people consider a flexible schedule to be the best perk of working remotely. It is important for managers to value employees’ expectations in order to build a healthy relationship with them.

Giving them the freedom to make slight adjustments to their schedule in consultation with their team will increase their satisfaction. You can also try setting daily goals instead of making a strict schedule for the day.

●       Arrange meetings that are unrelated to work

Remote work brings the risk of social isolation to the table. Some employees find it difficult to have meaningful connections with their co-workers because of the lack of face-to-face interaction.

When an employee is remote, they are more likely to  forget to balance their social and work life. As a manager, you can encourage regular virtual meetings among your employees that do not involve work. This acts as a bonding exercise and can ensure better teamwork in the future.

●       Reward and appreciate your employees

Publicly acknowledge and appreciate employees who have performed well and fulfilled their goals. A simple text of acknowledgement can do wonders for a person’s motivation.

Remote work training tips

The following remote work training tips will help you create the ideal work-from-home training program.

●       Make a checklist

Make a checklist to ensure all the steps of your virtual training program are in place and organized and the remote team has successfully completed them.

●       Follow a schedule

Once you list all the topics that have to be covered in the remote work training program, follow a schedule. Upload the training modules and set deadlines for your employees to go through them.

●       Have a remote training support team

You cannot avoid tech issues completely if you have opted for remote work. The training process might face a few technical obstacles from time to time and having a support team will lead to faster resolutions.

●       Be strict but flexible

Make sure to establish boundaries when it comes to the flexibility of work. Employees can request timing changes as long as it does not negatively impact their ability to act as part of a team or deliver on their commitments.

manager training new hires remotely

Tools for remote workers

For managing remote employees’ training, you can employ a variety of tools.

●       Video conferencing platforms

Video-conferencing and webinars allow remote teams to connect and collaborate more closely and efficiently. It replicates a virtual workplace where employees can see each other and interact freely in real time. With remote work becoming more popular, video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Google Meet have become a workplace necessity.

The video-conferencing market was already on the rise before the pandemic. It was forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.1% between 2018 and 2023 by the Global Video Conferencing Market Analysis.

●       Project management software

There are different project management software like Microsoft Teams and Slack that will let you provide training for remote workers, interact with them personally and collaborate with them on projects at the same time. These softwares also come with productivity trackers and task managers so that teams can function more efficiently.

●       Learning management systems

The need for remote work training has led to companies adopting learning management systems that allow employees to continue learning even when they are at work. Although not strictly an LMS platform, a platform like Bites allows employees to consume knowledge in limited amounts through short videos and managers to update their content and track the learners’ progress.

Leveraging technology for remote workers

Companies have to make the best use of the latest technologies to create effective remote training programs and secure the future of remote work. Technology can fill in the gaps between a traditional workplace and a virtual office. Gartner projected that worldwide IT spending could reach $3.9tn in 2021, which would be an increase of 6.2% from 2020.

New developments in Artificial Intelligence (or AI) have made it possible for companies to tailor and customize the learning process based on the individual employee’s needs without any need for human interference. Widespread implementation of this technology might take some time. Virtual Reality (VR) has also made it possible for remote employees to simulate physical togetherness in a virtual dimension.

With the help of new technology, remote employees are able to converse with each other more freely which improves their relationships significantly. Cloud-based sharing applications allow employees to remain updated at all times and they can work from anywhere they want.

Summary

The popularity of remote working will only increase from now. Many companies implemented the remote work system only because of the pandemic, but the results have been worthwhile. Employees have also enjoyed the flexibility of remote work and would like to continue having this option. Make it a priority to develop a remote training system for your company.