Seven Tips for Training Remote Workers
Many of us are working from home, managing a team remotely, or working in a disrupted environment. It’s the state of the world today.
It might feel like the time to press pause on your training and learning initiatives, but this might be an opportunity to meet the needs of your learners and employees in a whole new set of ways. Here are some suggestions to address these needs to benefit both your teams and your customers.
Review your original training strategy and plan.
You still have goals. They might not be the ones you outlined at the end of 2019, but it’s important to know what goals you have now. You may want to simplify your learning goals and focus on what’s most important.
It’s still critical to serve your customers. It’s still vital to engage your employees.
What training will allow you to do these most important things well? That’s where you start.
Emphasize your mission.
A common short-term mistake is jumping into teaching new processes or systems without the context of why your organization is using these tools. Help each learner understand what’s most important – serving your customers and employees – so the use of these tools has meaning.
Look for what your overall mission provides. If your mission and customer promise is about speed, then the systems that allow you to deliver quickly, especially in light of new remote working situations, are extremely meaningful to living that mission.
Communicate your mission and how it ties into all your training right now. Encourage employees to share what they’re learning that his helping them live that mission.
Employees throughout your organization need to lean on the mission to make better decisions right now. Help them do that by giving it the attention it deserves.
Allow for learning choice when possible.
Your workers are adjusting to the new realities of working from home, worrying about relatives, and dealing with new “co-workers” of children and partners at home. Each person will be working slightly differently than the other. Some will want very structured days, just like they had in the office. Others might prefer working some off-hours and spreading out breaks and focus time.
They will also be looking for how to learn differently.
Allow for choices around courses, instructors, interaction, and solo versus community learning. It’s still important to test what was learned, but the WAY each individual wants to learn is different. Give them the option to control how they achieve those goals.
Develop steps to onboard employees with new tools, just like tech brands do.
Have you ever signed up for an app and then forgotten to use it after reviewing the tutorial video and installing it? That’s because you didn’t have the immediate need to remember.
The best tools help you engage with them in an ongoing way. It’s too much to say “learn this totally new tool and develop a whole new workflow around it!” But that’s what many programs do. We ask our employees to work in a totally new ways, assign a quick tutorial for a robust tool, and pray that it works.
If there are new tools or workflows for remote workers, onboarding is that much more important. Help your employees by providing easy tasks to complete, rewards and recognition for engagement, and consistent check-ins to make sure they are comfortable with the new ways of doing things.
Now is the time to strip away unnecessary steps.
Your employees are working with a constant backdrop of new ways of doing things. Most teams who weren’t 100% remote are adjusting to the way they are all working now. Even your regular remote workers are experiencing the new backdrop of extra people in their space, managing meals for everyone, and lots of other temporary stresses.
Review what you’re asking your learners to do. How many steps does it take to get to the right place and understand the next step in their learning journey? Are there ways to make it easier? Including emailed reminders, direct links, and following up directly with resources can remove those little obstacles to completing training that can feel big right now. Reduce the effort wherever you can.
What tools do they need, but don’t want to admit they don’t know?
Some employees take to remote work easily, partially because they are familiar with the tools required. They are comfortable jumping in to try new technology and understand the workflow they need as an individual to get things done.
Some employees don’t want to raise their hand and say “I hate using video conferencing because I have to relearn how to login each time!”
These learners could benefit from simple, time-sensitive microlessons. Are there ways to approach learning in a non-threatening way to help your employees exactly when and how they need it? One approach I like is asking peers and leaders to share best practices around these tools. This can be done simply in a video or email. A leader might send an email with a video to share something that helped and say “I kept forgetting where to log in, so I made this reminder for myself and thought it might help you, too.” Seeing a leader admit this isn’t all easy for them either, but it certainly helps create a culture of admitting what you need to continue to learn.
Make learning assets super simple to find.
We all need to learn things more than once. If your learners gain a certificate or check mark for completing a training, that doesn’t mean they might not want to watch that video again or rely on that exercise file. Learning assets aren’t useful if they are “one and done.” Provide contextual ways to find content and the reinforcement needed to get their jobs done!
Training your workers today means adapting to their unique strengths and preferences. Empower them by providing choice, support, engagement, and a little grace as we all learn new things!