How to train your team remotely

Training is an important rite of passage that every new hire goes through to learn about their new role and responsibilities, meet their teammates, and  become part of a larger whole. 

In the last few months, however, employees have witnessed an abrupt shift in how they are trained for work.  Employers who previously derided employees working from home—in the swinging pre-Covid days—had to rapidly revise their stance as business struggled to keep afloat in a precarious market.

While remote working has always been around, now it’s become the norm. With companies hiring once again, the next question would be how to train these new hires remotely. You need to understand the challenges associated with remote training, then figure out how to overcome them. Don’t worry though- we’ve got you covered!


Common challenges you might face while working remotely 

Remote training does not come without its challenges. Here’s a list of the most common ones:

1. No face-to-face interactions:  Most of us are used to having an in-person instructor since school. Your new employees might be struggling with the lack of access to a classroom-based approach and trainers.

2. Technical issues: Even if everyone is happy with learning from the comfort of their homes, if you’re just switching to a remote interface, there are going to be technical glitches. It could be something simple (yet annoying) like internet issues on your employee’s end, to something as complex as your learning tools messing up.

3. Responsiveness: Your new hires can’t get quick responses to their questions. Asking doubts to someone in person and immediately asking follow-up questions is definitely harder to replicate over email, chat, or phone.

4. Distractions: Focus is not just important, but essential when employees are learning remotely, and it’s necessary to create an environment that is quiet and enables concentration.

5. Lack of social interactions: Employees can feel isolated when they miss out on the little interactions they have with their coworkers during the day. If your remote training course lacks group sessions, your employees might find it harder to stay engaged with the material. You also need to consider that for most of your new employees, a group training session is when they get to meet new people. Since this is affected by having a remote setup, you need to compensate for it.


Training your employees remotely 

Once you’re aware of the challenges which make remote training harder, it’s easier to come up with a plan to effectively train your employees. Here’s our take on it:

1. Choose if you want your learning to be synchronous or asynchronous

If you want all your employees to simultaneously undergo a training course or class, it’s called synchronous training. If your learners can learn whenever they want, independently if they need to, it’s called asynchronous learning. Ideally, they’d have to finish the course and a possible certification by a particular deadline.

You can also choose to tailor your training program such that it’s a veritable mix of both. By having a few group sessions, you can help combat isolation and promote interactions. However, your employees should be able to pick a time that works best for them to learn on their own. It’s also important to give credence to more than just job-based training.

At Uber for instance, they try to make sure that their employees can stay calm and focused while they are working from home. They do this through activities like Desktop Yoga Sessions, which are live virtually-guided yoga sessions to promote physical and mental wellbeing. Employees are also encouraged to reach out and ask for professional help through Uber’s Employee Assistance program. This provides quite a few services to employees and their family members, free of cost and includes confidential counseling to help contend with stress, anxiety, or anything else they might need help with.

2. Figure out your course materials

There are a variety of ways you can train employees: you can make training videos, run live video sessions, hand out PDFs for them to read, and so on. However, depending on what you want them to learn and the resources at hand, you will have to choose the right approach. For example, showing an employee how to use a particular tool would work best through a video or an interactive simulation. However, if you want them to learn about something theoretical, they can read through documents at their own pace. If you are training them on your company culture, a mix of different types of course materials along with group sessions would do the trick.

3. Make sure you have the tools you need

Once you’ve chosen your learning approach and have your courses ready, you have to make sure that the information reaches your learners seamlessly. There are different platforms that you can use. You can have a dedicated learning management system (LMS) to help track your learners’ progress, create and add new courses and course materials, and even host quizzes and provide certifications.

You can also use a simple video-conferencing tool to conduct group sessions or create a virtual classroom. Choose a tool that is easy to set up and use, and make sure your employees are aware of how to make use of it.

4. Organize your training and make your employees more comfortable

Ensure that you have a schedule for your training which your employees are aware of well in advance. You can create a checklist with any pre-requisite reading they should have done, assignments that need to be turned in, and tests they can take post-lesson.

Hold a workshop that teaches your learners to use the tools that you need before launching into your training as it is important that they’re comfortable with them.

For example, Buffer has a 45-day long Boot Camp where a new hire gets assigned to three buddies — a Leader, Role, & Culture buddy. They also get to dive into the tools headfirst before delving into the culture and values the company upholds. There’s a one-on-one chat session between the hire and the leader buddy every fortnight, to ensure the new hire is on the same page as that of the team. The one-on-one conversations  are all about coaching, open communication, and feedback. 

5. Have support ready

Let’s face it, technical issues can crop up despite the most meticulous planning. What is important is that you have ways to mitigate and manage these problems. Have a member of your IT team ready to resolve issues and send out a document with common technical glitches and fixes.

Support can also be of the non-technical variety. As an employer, you must be willing to answer your employees’ queries in a manner that is comfortable for them. This could be staying online after a course to handle doubts, being willing to get on a conference call, or simply encouraging them and offering feedback that helps them do better.

At Zapier, they believe that it’s helpful to check in often with folks to make sure they’re progressing at the right pace. It might feel like you’re micromanaging your employees, but this is better than the opposite: having a new hire fall behind or feel out of the loop.

Remember to always provide a positive environment for your trainees and find ways to reward their efforts. After all, the happier and quicker they learn, the better it is for your company and team! 


So what are your tips for remotely training a team? Let us know in the comments below!

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