5 Ways To Train A Remote Workforce

Author, Academic Director
Concordia University
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Hiring remote is on the rise. The World Economic Forum declared remote work one of the biggest drivers of transformation in the workplace today, and 37 percent of respondents to a Gallup poll in 2015 had remote work experience. Employers are increasingly casting their net for potential employees wider and wider, giving more consideration to remote work, and hiring applicants who they never have and never will see in person. Employees are overwhelmingly finding it a preferential or convenient status of employment, and it helps young and old alike find better opportunities that can more easily fit in and around their personal schedules.

Since remote work is on the rise, remote training is on the rise too. Unfortunately, remotely training employees can be easily blundered if an employer isn’t prepared for the challenges. Rather than leaving your employees stumbling or send them through inadequate training, take the time to prepare a useful and applicable training program for remote employees in order to maximize both productivity and employee satisfaction, decreasing the chance that they’ll quit out of stress or frustration.

1. Look for remote work experience

The best way to minimize the difficulties that could arise from training remote workers is to ensure that your employees are coming to you with some remote work experience to begin with. Employees who’ve never worked remotely before have a greater adjustment to make, whereas employees used to working remotely are more likely to have the self-control necessary to maintain their own schedule, understand of the difficulties of remote work and know how to seek out information as needed, even if it means you have to buy YouTube views. Although the remote workforce must grow by hiring inexperienced remote employees, prioritizing or looking for employees who have that experience will ease your training burden.

2. Establish peer-to-peer informal learning

One of the best ways to learn is by example. Informal learning through fellow employees will help your training along by giving participants real life examples to model after and more resources to turn to for help. Avoid keeping your remote employees separate; connect them and encourage them to communicate amongst themselves, or set up some sort of employee social media network that will let them easily communicate and keep track of what other employees are doing.

3. Look for at least one face-to-face meeting

Although this isn’t an option for everyone, there is still something absolutely invaluable and irreplaceable about face-to-face meetings. The best way to prepare an employee for training and bring them into the company fold is to begin with face-to-face meetings and training sessions before remote work can start. However, this is not an option for everyone; in that case, a series of Skype calls can substitute to help provide the face time and familiarity that in-person meetings offer.

4. Have all training documents prepared

If you’re just transitioning into remote work, it is critical you make sure that you have training documents, guides and manuals prepared for employees before they arrive. These documents should be extremely extensive and detailed - as detailed as you can. A good strategy for training employees is to assume nothing about the technical knowledge they bring to the table. Explain everything, if you can. Screenshots and videos to walk your employees through new systems, online courses to show them what skills they need, basic wikipedias and networks available are all necessary to the training process for remote employees.

5. Give them flexibility in pace

Employees look to remote work because they want more flexibility, both in where and when they work. Your remote employees are almost certainly going to be mostly left to complete work on their own, which means their training styles should follow a similar method. Although it’s critical to check in, talk to your employees, make yourself available to clarify when needed and follow up to see if they’re learning what they need to, it’s best to give your employees the information they need and let them travel through it at their own pace. Setting daily or even hourly training tasks will be counterproductive and leave your remote workers frustrated.

Remote employees bring unique challenges for employers. Standard training practices will not work for such an arrangement. By modifying your training to one that suits remote workers, you’ll have better success in training and retaining.


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