43 percent of working Americans spent some of their paid time working remotely in 2016. This survey of more than 15,000 people shows just how viable telecommuting is for the average American today, offering individuals and businesses alike a more flexible working routine.
Remote work enables professionals (both salaried and freelance) to perform their duties without having to commute to an office, while employers have fewer overheads to cover. However, to achieve the best results, your team of remote workers require the same in-depth training as your in-house employees.
Here are 7 key tips to help you train your remote teams better than the rest.
#1. Consider Meeting in Person First
While this point may seem to contradict the very nature of remote work, meeting telecommuters in person first can be a major advantage.
If it’s simply impossible due to time or geographical restraints, that’s fine. However, bringing them into your workplace and immersing them in your company culture helps to build a stronger bond, foster a deeper knowledge of the business’s operations at an early stage, and helps the team get to know each other better.
If this can’t be done, there are other options, including video conferencing.
#2. Embrace Video Chat
Video chat is a terrific alternative to bringing remote workers in for an initial introduction. You can still take them on a tour, introduce them to colleagues, and engage face-to-face.
Video chat should be used to check-in, whether this covers upcoming tasks, brainstorming sessions, or just to discuss progress. This collaboration and bonding helps to form a more cohesive company, but choosing the right service is key. Employees in remote areas or countries with poor connections can struggle with common platforms like Skype or Google Hangouts.
Using new cutting edge video chat services that were built for low-bandwidth situations, for any area around the globe, like those offered by video chat firm Agora.io, ensure a strong and clear live video image for training even your most remote trainee.
#3. Cover Every Tool
Remote workers will expect to have access to all the tools their office-bound colleagues do, and the resources to make using them as easy as possible.
One early priority in your training should be to educate remote workers on the tools they will be using, and ensure these are as free of bugs as possible. Remote workers can be seriously hampered by inefficient platforms, and in-house tools should be as user-friendly for them as everyone else.
Don’t expect remote workers to know exactly how to use your bespoke software without any training, and always have information to hand for their own reference.
#4. Set Homework to Build Workers’ Knowledge
Provide remote workers with a wide range of company-specific files to read at their own leisure. This will help to develop their knowledge of your business, your mission, your company values, your working practices, and other critical areas.
The better remote workers understand your company’s culture and profile, the more their work will suit your expectations. Be sure to check-in on their progress of this research, but don’t ask them to blast through it in a couple of days – they have a schedule to stick to, and pushing them may mean they skim the information instead of taking it in.
#5. Record Training for Future Reference
Recording training sessions helps to save time and enables more individuals to get involved. Rather than expecting one or two employees to handle training, you can give others the details they need to get future remote workers up to speed.
This may involve recording video-chat sessions, producing step-by-step tutorials, FAQs, and preparing other aids. You’ll be able to fit in more training and ensure all future workers have the same start, while reducing the risk of incompetency.
#6. Allow Remote Workers to Progress Their Own Way
Remote workers are all different. Just as your in-house employees need to find the rhythm of your business at their own pace over a number of days and weeks, telecommuters must be extended the same flexibility.
Even with the best training and the most in-depth resources, some remote workers may need a little more time to settle into your business’s style of communication, your schedule, your project-management, and other aspects.
Be patient, and offer the help workers need without pressuring them to ‘fall in line’.
#7. Keep Your Door Open
Workers should always feel comfortable to approach their line colleagues, supervisors, and line managers for help.
Any businesses which fail to be welcoming or keep their doors open to remote workers may find that mistakes are made, or that telecommuters quit at the first opportunity. Misunderstandings and questions are common in the early days of a working relationship, but ensuring remote workers feel happy to say when they’re uncertain helps to inspire loyalty and drive.
Encourage new telecommuters to be honest and open, and extend them the same courtesy. Avoid being closed-off or making remote workers feel disconnected from the rest of the business.
Training remote teams as best you can is vital to motivate workers and reduce the risk of costly mistakes. Follow the tips explored above to improve your chances of building a successful relationship with your remote workers for years to come.
Have you tried any of these techniques, and if so, how did they affect your business?