person sitting down at desk with  schedule overhead on blackboard
PHOTO: Julia M Cameron

High-quality, employer-provided remote training opportunities are in demand — and for good reason. Better access to training for distributed teams can improve workplace productivity and flexibility, forge and strengthen team bonds, and increase opportunities for upward mobility, all of which benefit employees and employers alike.

Deploying virtual training programs for remote workers comes with some unique challenges, but best practices continue to emerge to help remote leaders. The following seven suggestions can help businesses launch telework training initiatives which deliver results for businesses and employees:

1. Make Training an Integral Part of Company Culture

How industries and employers define in-demand professional skills is constantly changing. This is especially true for technology-driven telecommuting workplaces. Just look at the change in skills from 2018 to 2020 in LinkedIn’s list of “The Top Skills Companies Need Most” —  more than 75% changed to include brand new skills, many of which were tech-focused.

To stay competitive, businesses should cultivate a culture of learning within their organizations to inspire employees to proactively improve their skills and become experts in their roles. These five practices can help business leaders achieve this goal:

  • Institute a learning culture as an organizational principle.
  • Use training to reinforce policies, values and goals specific to the company.
  • Hire employees who are innately inquisitive.
  • Provide remote employees with the time and resources to pursue training opportunities.
  • Encourage employees to share their expertise across teams and departments.

Related Article: 5 Ways to Improve Training Opportunities for Remote Teams

2. Consider Product Learning

The distributed nature of remote work requires employees to use a variety of hardware and software to accommodate their job responsibilities. Product knowledge training will keep remote employees abreast of the latest technologies relevant to their industries and jobs.

This type of training should be offered each time a company rolls out an integral product. However, consistent, regular training, such as bi-annual technology review sessions can also help. These sessions allow the team to review hardware and software updates, troubleshoot errors, address concerns, and discuss any upcoming changes that could potentially impact workflows.

3. Host Post-Training Debriefs

Following a training session for remote workers, leaders should host a debrief to recap and clarify training highlights, answer questions, outline directives going forward, and establish opportunities for follow-up and continued learning. Solidifying the important takeaways will facilitate opportunities for reflection, confirm employees and managers are united in their objectives, determine how teams will apply training knowledge, and create benchmarks to measure performance.

Related Article: Is ROI a 'Dead Metric' for Learning & Development?

4. Track Training Productivity and Progress

Employers and training leaders need to stay organized while planning, executing and reviewing training sessions. Tracking employee training not only promotes organization, but also is essential for ensuring effective program implementation and understanding how to fill knowledge gaps.

A thoughtful training tracking strategy will help remote leaders analyze training statistics, follow learning progress, gauge training success and log employee participation — a critical element for compliance training. Learning management systems (LMS) will help simplify tracking processes within remote work environments. Software like TalentLMS, GoToTraining, 360Learning and LearnUpon provide collaborative features to help businesses automate repetitive training tasks, keep records and complete post-training data analysis.

5. Solicit Training Feedback From Employees

Asking employees for feedback on training initiatives will yield benefits beyond the conclusion of training. In fact, 59% of employees who have been asked for feedback are engaged at work, compared with 42% employee engagement in workplaces with no feedback avenues according to Qualtrics' “2020 Global Employee Experience Trends.” Better still, the same report found 80% engagement among employees working for companies that prioritize turning employee feedback into action.

Related Article: Online Learning Market Soars as Pandemic Fuels Rapid Reskilling

6. Evaluate and Evolve Training Methods

Although remaining innovative while also delivering training programs on a consistent basis can be challenging for employers and managers, innovation is essential to retain employee interest and enthusiasm. These four practices can help remote leaders regularly evaluate and evolve their company’s training methods:

  • Hire a remote training consultant to customize unique digital learning curriculums.
  • Research industry-relevant training trends as well as competitor training initiatives within their remote work programs.
  • Utilize a wide variety of workforce training styles to accommodate the greatest amount of remote workers. Popular training methods include instructor-led coaching, self-guided e-courses, role-playing or gamification, video lectures, required reading including quarterly or annual reports as well as case studies, and peer-to-peer mentoring.
  • Give employees access to online professional development programs, continued education websites, and skills-building resources like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, Stanford Online and Udemy, so they have opportunities to learn at their own pace.

7. Encourage Managerial Buy-in

Remote worker training programs will have a bigger impact if company executives and managers buy in to training itineraries and goals. From upper-level administrators to department heads and team leaders, all managerial staff should be enthusiastic about marketing training initiatives to their employees. Where appropriate, business leaders can help shore up training ROI by offering incentives, like performance bonuses, charitable giving awards, care packages, company swag and equipment upgrades, to reward managers who volunteer to host professional development seminars or produce training materials.

Not All Remote Training Is Built the Same

It is one thing to provide virtual training to distributed employees, and another to do so effectively and with purpose. Conducting remote employee training with these best practices in place is key to employees and employers both receiving the full merits of remote training.