Online training presents an interesting paradox. It’s an elegant solution if you need to train employees working from home or distributed teams at offices across time zones. But online delivery has its own drawbacks. And they can interfere with employee learning.
If you don’t want to disengage and alienate your team, you need to be prepared to address the challenges of distance learning.
A quality training strategy for home-based employees and remote teams calls for a unique approach. Learn the dangers to watch for and design a plan that guards against them from the start.
5 remote training challenges—and how to tackle them
Training remote employees takes forethought. You’ll run into obstacles that range from different levels of technical know-how to disconnected learners. Fortunately, there are tools to address them.
Here are five of the top challenges you’ll face and solutions that will make the training process as smooth as possible.
Challenge #1: Technical problems
Technical issues bring online training to a halt. Software bugs, forgotten passwords, or spotty internet will shut down even the most motivated learners.
Employees who’ve recently transitioned to work from home may not have the most up-to-date technical resources. Or, they may struggle with how to navigate unfamiliar platforms. If you’re relying on remote training technology, expect some technical hiccups.
Solution: Streamline the user experience and provide tech support
Start with a user-friendly LMS. You don’t want people to get lost just trying to access their training. Make sure logging in and completing courses are intuitive. And keep technical constraints in mind. Limit media file sizes to cut down on loading times for those running on lower bandwidth internet.
Also, make sure people have the resources to troubleshoot any issues that do come up. Include a clear link to a technical guide in your LMS help features. And provide a chat or call option so employees can reach live tech support when needed. Be proactive to ensure a seamless remote training experience.
Challenge #2: Scheduling obstacles
Working employee development into busy calendars is not an easy task. Getting in-office employees together for training can often be a scheduling headache. Add to that the varying work hours remote teams face, and scheduling regular training time becomes nearly impossible.
Solution: Embrace self-paced learning
Accommodate busy schedules by letting people log in and learn when and where it makes the most sense for them. Even if you already do some online training, you may want to shift to an even more self-paced strategy.
Self-paced lessons and microlearning make it easy for employees to access training in their downtime. They’ll be able to give the content more focused attention. And they’ll better retain knowledge when training isn’t competing with other priorities.
Challenge #3: Feelings of isolation
Remote learning can be lonely. The benefits of team training are hard to replicate when every learner is sitting alone in front of a screen. Feelings of isolation can get in the way of learner engagement. And when people don’t feel connected to their team or the content, they won’t get much out of the training.
Solution: Cultivate a sense of team
This must be one of the biggest challenges of distance learning, as by default online training happens from a distance. You can still build your training, though, in a way that gives learners a social experience where possible.
While the majority of your courses will be self-paced, don’t give up on live sessions completely. Schedule occasional online discussions. Give employees the chance to get together—even virtually—and learn from one another.
You can also provide opportunities for collaboration by assigning group projects. Have learners work together between sessions to apply what they’ve learned. Or, create a social networking space. Use messaging apps and platforms like Slack as places for employees to ask and answer questions about the training content.
Challenge #4: Constant distractions
Remote work environments often increase the chaos employees deal with during working hours. Many are sharing workspaces with family members and pets who need constant attention. Even those who have a dedicated workspace can get distracted by more pressing, or more entertaining, online activities.
If training amounts to sitting in front of a screen reading slides, attention will wander. The draw of responding to emails or completing today’s Wordle may derail your training efforts.
Solution: Increase engagement
Make your training more dynamic to engage learners. Give learners more reason to interact with the screen in front of them. Give them quizzes and tests to prove their understanding of the content. Ask them to respond to real-life scenarios with multiple-choice or written answers.
The more deeply people have to think about the content to retrieve answers, the more they’ll remember it. And asking them to engage in a course will draw their attention back to it over and over.
Challenge #5: Difficulty measuring success
If you don’t know what to look for, you may not be able to tell if remote training is working. In the absence of a live instructor, it can be difficult to gauge employee progress. And leaders don’t always see how new skills are or are not affecting on-the-job behavior with remote employees.
A training course, no matter how well designed and engaging, is only as useful as the results it brings. If you can’t see those results, you have no way of knowing what’s working and what needs to be fixed.
Solution: Look at the right metrics
Prepare to collect and analyze the best data to measure your training’s success. Start with metrics your LMS can provide for you. Generate reports on things like course completion rates and how employees perform on tests and quizzes. Patterns in the data will show you where people are losing interest or struggling to understand the content.
You can also get a good idea of how things are going by asking employees directly. Administer surveys during and after the training to find out what’s working for them and what’s not. Ask open-ended questions about improvements they’d like to see.
Finally, learn how well your training is performing by measuring the KPIs driving it. You should have specific business results you wanted as a result of the training. (For example, a 30% improvement in customer satisfaction scores.) Gauge your scores during and after rolling out customer service training to your employees. If you see improvements, you’ll know it’s working.
Plan ahead for successful remote training
Planning is key to any successful training. Knowing the challenges of distance learning will help you prepare a successful remote training program. Keep these best practices top of mind as you roll out your strategy:
- Make it accessible: Make sure learners can log in and navigate their training easily. Remove technical barriers by building an easy-to-use interface up front.
- Make it engaging: Create training that begs learners to respond and interact. Plan from the start to provide hands-on learning and practice opportunities. Build in social interaction to keep teams connected.
- Measure your success: Even the most user-friendly training won’t serve your team if it doesn’t achieve results. Make feedback and review key parts of your remote training plans.
Remote training is here to stay. Plan your strategy now to make sure your training has the intended impact on your employees and your organization’s growth.
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