How to train a remote workforce

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Remote working is on the rise. According to the World Economic Forum, it is fast becoming one of the most dynamic drivers of workplace transformation. Not only does it give employees a source of income that might not be otherwise available due to geography but it helps employers cast their net wider and effectively expand their talent pool. With the emergence of cloud technology and satellite networking tools, working from home has become a reality. 

According to a Gallup poll, 37 percent of the respondents claimed to have remote work experience. Consequently, this rise in remote employment results in a gap in the market for remote training. It is a very different method of training that requires a definitive skillset and can easily fall short of the mark if not done correctly. The employer needs to be adequately prepared and aware of the challenges that might arise.

Taking the time to put together a suitable and appropriate training program optimizes both the efficiency and employee satisfaction. Having an adequately trained employee ensures an environment conducive to the success of both the employer and employee, reducing frustration and stress and consequently improving remote employee retention.

Even without the added challenge of remote working, training is an essential part of any employee development process. As organizations embrace the concept of remote workforces by hiring people based in places like Vietnam, training comes to the fore as an important means to achieve the consistency and reliability required. A person can get a visa on arrival Vietnam, but constructing a training program to realize these goals is slightly different than with onsite employees and requires a more systematic approach. Here are five practices that can help the employer develop a decent remote training programme.

  1. Hire challenge-driven, motivated people

The first step to training a remote workforce is hiring the right type of people. Working from a home office has its advantages, one of which being a flexible schedule. This can also present problems and it is important to be strict with deadlines and requirements to maintain a work ethic. Thus it is essential that remote employees are self-motivated and disciplined individuals. This can be ensured by assigning training homework in the form of reading, e-learning modules or other training material. Then following up with assessments and evaluations, which helps the employer gauge whether the information is being adequately reviewed.

Tracking employee training is useful not only for evaluating the staff but also for analysing the effectiveness of the training method itself. 

  1. Use software training tools to convey information

Learning to use new software applications, for example CRM packages, is best accomplished by doing. When training remote employees, it is impossible to explain step by step in person, thus it is imperative to invest in tools that allow the employer to explain by way of video and screen capture to effectively talk through the material. Thus the employee will be able to see the software functioning with commentary and be able reproduce the steps.

  1. Make social media a base for peer networking

As much as formal training programme is critical to learning and development, informal learning can play a large role in the outcomes. According to an annual review study, 75 percent of total learning is made up of informal learning practices. This can be leveraged by initiating social media groups and forums whereby peers can discuss challenges and present both problems and solutions. Traditionally known as “water cooler talk”, in a modern remote workforce, this has to happen on a virtual platform such as private Facebook groups or chat rooms.

  1. Document everything regarding training

On many occasions companies suffer problems with training documentation as it has habitually been dealt with by a single custodian and if that person leaves, it places the organization at a distinct disadvantage. The solution to this, especially with remote training where information may be coming from multiple sources, is to invest in document control software that allows stepwise recording of all correspondence, training material and assessments for posterity.  

  1. Keep training part of the company culture

Training should never be a once off. Times change, technology changes and it is vital that employees stay abreast of these changes. Even though the remote workforce may be offsite, it is still critical to maintain a company culture that can be reinforced by ongoing training. Training is a large part of this process and helps build and empower the workforce with the company values and skills.

A remote workforce presents unique challenges that adequate training can overcome. By having a successful and comprehensive training programme in place, an organization can maintain a skilled, successful and cohesive team despite not working together onsite. Remote training requires a certain amount of stringency and discipline to ensure the employees are working to a schedule and retaining the information effectively, but when done effectively can produce just as valuable results as conventional training methods.

About AlexK

Alex K

A social media marketing executive and entrepreneur, Alex has led the marketing divisions of some of the UK's leading advertising and PR firms. He specializes in usng the power of big data and business analysis to deliver actionable metrics.

As manager of a large team of digital marketers, Alex is responsible for delivering the training and development of his entire department. He emphasises standardizing procedures and creating an immersive on-boarding process as key to bringing new members to your team.

Outside business, Alex is a keen videographer and music producer, living and working in Brighton, UK. 

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