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Training a team isn’t always easy, but creating remote training courses for a distributed workplace brings up a whole new set of challenges. Your team might be dispersed across multiple locations or time zones, technology can present hurdles, and attention is often elusive.
Fortunately, there are a number of tools at your disposal, including eLearning, to make remote training more tenable; eLearning makes it possible to train your employees no matter where they are.
But remote training isn’t as simple as creating a Google Doc or downloading a few courses online. Trainers need to implement the right elements within eLearning to ensure that your team can pay attention and glean the right information from the materials. But first, what’s the deal with a remote environment?
While telecommuting offers great flexibility, remote environments come with some unique challenges. These challenges, most of which relate to not physically having your team in front of you, often make remote training especially difficult.
The lack of face-to-face interactions can make remote training, and remote work in general, difficult for many workers. It’s easy to lose the attention of your audience when you’re simply speaking to people during a video call. This is why it’s important to give people a chance to provide feedback, be it via email, chat, a call, etc.
In a traditional office setting, it’s easy for you to see if someone’s struggling, at which point, you can bring them into your office for a one-on-one session. Remote environments make it more difficult to discern who is doing well and who is stressed, lost, and so on.
This can be remedied by giving your team a private channel for providing feedback, asking questions, or simply venting. If possible, create more than one channel. For example, you could offer a place for feedback within your eLearning courses and also make sure people know your digital door is always open via email, Slack, or any other online communication tool you use.
Remote working tools are vital but can lead to technical hiccups and headaches for employees. Streamlining training and removing any unnecessary technical tools makes this process easier.
It’s also important that you give people the chance to ask any questions they may have about the tools you’re using, because many people may be using these tools for the first time.
When everyone is in the same physical location, it’s often easier for people to raise their hands and ask questions. In remote environments, it’s easy to skip over people or make it difficult to ask questions. Some people may also feel uncomfortable asking questions because their face is generally center stage when speaking. Much like the challenges we mentioned above, this can be remedied by giving people a private channel for feedback.
The above challenges are only a few of the many hurdles that arise with a remote environment. But with proper training and a bit of patience, all of these challenges can be overcome. Now, how exactly do you go about training in a remote environment?
It should come as no surprise that training in a remote environment is different from learning in a traditional workspace. With your team spread out and connected online, traditional training methods simply won’t work.
There are several key areas where remote training methods differ from in-office training.
The office gives you the benefit of making a personal connection, having a straightforward exchange, and seeing your team in the halls or around the workplace.
The remote environment leaves communication at the mercy of technology, which often means employees have to take the initiative to manage up and ask questions because it’s difficult to visually gauge if people are looking flustered or lost (and it leaves leaders in the position of having to reach out if they think there’s an issue).
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Not everyone likes to read; others may not enjoy videos. It’s already difficult enough to effectively teach various types of learners. Remote training is especially nuanced because you’re left with fewer options (you can’t hand out training flyers or meet in person, for example).
A big part of training is knowing where problems exist. Tracking performance in an office is slightly easier because you can see if people are working, gauge their attitudes, note whether they’re turning work in on time, and so on.
Remote environments require more diligence. You need to set up systems that allow for numerous touchpoints, ensuring that your team is producing quality work at every stage. This will allow you to look for problem areas and create training that encompasses those areas.
When you’re a remote team, you’re exactly that — remote. That means you can have people in very different time zones, which can rule out live training.
This makes eLearning, animations, and videos even more viable because multiple live training sessions for various time zones aren’t always possible or practical. This also leaves your employees with reference material they can return to again and again.
Video and animation can make remote training methods more engaging, entertaining, and effective. But there are some best practices to keep in mind when using video and animation in your remote training.
Animated videos are a great way to tell a story. When writing an article on a topic, it can take hundreds of words to drive home the point of a subject while also telling a coherent story. Animation, especially when coupled with audio, makes it easier to deliver your message while also telling a story at the same time.
For example, watch the mock cybersecurity training video below. The video immerses the learner in an animated story while teaching a valuable lesson about the importance of password security:
Animated vides are even better when they’re interactive. Interactivity turns an animated video into more of a game or a choice-based story, which can be especially engaging. While you shouldn’t use this approach for every animation or video you make, it’s a great format to use when covering any kind of situational topic. For example, if you’re training your team on how to navigate a sale, you can make an interactive animation that allows your team to reenact a sale.
Take a look at this list of interactive video examples for inspiration. There are several examples of using animated video with Articulate’s Storyline. There’s also an example from The Game Agency where turned a video about handling sales objections into a game. Watch the video example and play the sales game now.
Video and animation can make complex topics easier to understand and can be entertaining to boot. But it’s still important you have a strong teaching element in your training process. This allows you to have a dialogue with your team, answer questions, gauge whether they’re learning, and more.
To cover your bases, have your resident expert on the topic present in the eLearning as well. By doing this, you’ll have a real person who is available to field questions your team may have and can offer further insight on the topic. Video doesn’t entirely replace other forms of training—it can be used in combination. For example, video can be included as a follow-up to online training or it can be used to start the conversation. You can include a message at the end of a video that tells your team to contact a company representative or online resource if there are any additional questions.
In this example, the human resources representative explains the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and encourages colleagues to contact HR if they have further questions.
There’s no denying that video and animation are great, but a blend of content types ensures that you’re reaching all kinds of learners. Include articles, quizzes, audio, eLearning, and video for good measure. This wide variety of content types will engage multiple learning types, keep your team from getting bored with the training, and help with comprehension.
Video and animation can make training fun and effective, especially when used properly. With the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to having a course that hits all the right beats with your team. But there’s more to remote training than video.
Remote training is different from traditional training and, as such, requires a different approach. The following tips will help ensure that your team is getting as much from remote training courses as possible.
Many people may be working remotely for the first time too. Remote work has benefits, but it also comes with challenges. With proper training, you can help your team feel more at ease in their new style of work. Here’s one video idea to help onboard new team members with tips for excelling at working remotely for the first time:
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If you’re hosting any kind of live training or webinar, follow the presentation with a transcript and summary of what was covered. This will ensure that learners who prefer reading have what they need to succeed, and those that may have missed something can fill any knowledge gaps.
It’s easy for people to feel alone in a remote environment, especially if they’re new to working remotely. Pair people with a mentor or onboarding buddy. This will help ensure that they don’t have any knowledge gaps, since they’ll have a designated person who can questions. They’ll also know they can rely on this person, which will help with any feelings of isolation.
Lunch-and-learn sessions are 30-minute learning sessions, during which a member of the team can educate others on a certain topic during the traditional lunch hour. These allow people to learn a variety of skills, take ownership, teach, and keep people engaged in a remote setting.
Ideally, you should be using a feature-rich learning management system (LMS). An LMS will allow you to house your eLearning courses in one place, track the progress of your team, and see if certain courses aren’t be completed or are taking too long to complete.
Your team may be remote, but with quality eLearning material, you can bring your team together and ensure that everyone gets a quality education. And don’t be afraid to reach out to your team to see how training is going; feedback is always valuable, especially in a remote setting where you don’t have the benefit of random small talk. Take your time, develop a nice blend of content, and don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas.
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