As the whole world is scrambling to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it should be safe to assume that working remotely is going to be the status quo for a while now.

At this point, businesses from various parts of the world are changing the way they normally do their jobs on a massive scale.

A recent Harvard Business Review article noted that businesses should expect that the COVID-19 outbreak will change societies in various areas like online shopping, online education, and public health investments.

The authors observed that “When the urgent part of the crisis has been navigated, companies should consider what this crisis changes and what they’ve learned so they can reflect them in their plans.”

Companies today are fully or mostly engaged in a remote work setup. They have started to use various online collaboration tools just to remain business as usual. But have businesses thought about what to do with their staff’s training and development?

Regardless of what type of training it is (leadership development, career enhancement, etc.), it’s safe to assume that even the organization’s training calendar has been completely disrupted over the past few weeks.

Setting up a remote learning strategy

The first step that organizations need to do is to switch up their learning and development strategies to support remote learning.

To craft a successful training program, organizations need to evaluate and transform their methods – this means that it’s more than just conducting the same training through video conferencing.

Amidst the economic uncertainties that businesses are experiencing today, learning and upskilling are now becoming more important than ever.

The challenge that companies need to accomplish is to figure out how to carry the critical mission of training and development in a non-traditional workplace atmosphere. Organizations need to craft a compelling and engaging training strategy for their workforce.

According to Training Industry, an expert source of business learning information, these are the three themes that define the success of training a remote workforce:

·   Engagement

Engagement is a primary factor in any type of learning environment. However, this becomes more challenging for remote learning. A remote learning environment can have a significant impact on learner motivation and the effort that they actually put into the training.

Review the current tools that the firm will use to transition into a remote learning strategy such as readings, videos, lectures, and presentations. Consider new ways to enhance the remote learning training program by using more active tools like a class discussion with some problem-solving and even role-playing activities.

One useful strategy is to use web conference tools like chat rooms and video to establish a dialogue among distance learners. This can also enhance their motivation to learn, while at the same time making it easier to clarify concepts and promote shared understanding.

·   Collaboration

Collaboration is an essential aspect of remote learning. An organization that encourages a collaborative culture among individuals and teams will more likely achieve greater results and overall success in their transition to a remote work setup.

Similarly, a good remote training strategy also encourages collaboration among team members. Organizations can review their remote learning plan and identify several ways to improve learning outcomes through collaboration among remote employees.

Use all kinds of shared collaboration software that’s available for the organizations, including web conferencing, chat rooms, social platforms, and other shared virtual spaces that are conducive for learning online. Consider the impact of these platforms to remote workers and figure out the best way to

·   Performance Support

In most cases, employees who are granted training on the job have a series of formal training events. However, an employee does not build expertise from the training alone. Practice, remediation, and coaching are critical aspects that support learners in achieving success in their work performance.

It is essential for organizations to design their training program with adequate performance support. It can be integrated into the remote training strategy. Organizations need to ensure that there are frequent and structured touchpoints and coaching sessions.

Review the company’s existing training and development plan and find out if it addresses the specific needs of the current remote workforce. Listen to the needs and concerns of employees and factor those suggestions in the context of engagement, collaboration, and performance support.

The advancement of digital technologies over the past few years has enabled companies to train their remote employees successfully. However, since remote training has not been a common practice until recently, there are a few common pitfalls that began to emerge. 

Talent LMS, a cloud-hosted learning management system, identified a list of remote team training mistakes to avoid: 

MISTAKE 1: Making team communication a tedious task.

Training remote workers do not come with the same atmosphere as classroom interactions in the office. Thus, physical distance in a remote training setup can become a challenge in a virtual class. Remote workers may find it hard to communicate with their trainers and amongst each other. It may also prompt them to be less enthusiastic to participate in the training program.

To avoid this case, remote teams need to establish open communication through online channels that are simple and easy to use. While conducting remote training, discussion forums and direct messaging can make communication smooth and effortless.

Video conferencing will also make the training more interactive. Take advantage of webinars and online video demonstrations to encourage team spirit and collaboration. It will make the participants more attentive and make the training more productive, even while it’s conducted remotely.

MISTAKE 2: Disregarding company culture in the remote setup.

Just like any typical employee, remote workers will be more engaged whenever they feel emotionally and socially connected to their colleagues. This is the reason why company culture becomes the glue that unites employees under a common set of values, behaviors, and goals.

Use the training program as an avenue to integrate remote workers into the company culture. A good way to start is to include team activities into the remote training program, such as group assignments or problem-solving activities.

It’s essential to give remote workers a common cause to encourage them to work together and eventually build a culture of collaboration. Besides keeping them motivated and productive, it will also make remote employees feel like they are part of a team despite the distance.

MISTAKE 3: Viewing training as a one-time affair.

With the sudden economic downturn brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of industries need to upgrade their skillsets to help gain a more competitive edge in the market. A set of continuous and ongoing training for the organization’s remote workers can address this challenge.

By not being in an actual office, remote teams would tend to miss out on a fair amount of casual and on-the-job education. To prevent remote workers from losing out on their social learning interactions, organizations need to provide ongoing training systems.

Maintain a set of useful manuals and learning materials such as videos and infographics for the remote workers. Offer regular knowledge transfer meet-ups via webinars or video conferencing. It will help remote workers feel like they are part of the team by discussing new concepts and ideas.

MISTAKE 4: Neglecting the importance of feedback.

Organizations need to remember that remote workers also need to be able to share their opinions and experience. Thus, feedback should be the core component of an organization’s remote training strategy.

Employee feedback can shed light on what the remote workers need and highlight the processes that can be improved in the training program. Make it a habit to conduct a post-training evaluation survey. It gives an avenue for the remote team to express their opinions, and it will also help improve the organization’s remote training strategy.

Best Practices for Training Remote Employees

BEST PRACTICE 1: Understand the remote team members.

Remote workers don’t work side-by-side in a row of office cubicles. Thus, they are not familiar with how each team member gets their work done. The solution is not to come up with a cookie-cutter training approach.

It is better to invest some time and effort to figure out a remote worker’s preferred ways of learning. Then the company can tailor its remote training strategy accordingly.

BEST PRACTICE 2: Find the right remote training tools.

With the barrage of remote workers all over the world right now, there’s definitely no shortage of remote training tools on the market. However, keep in mind that the organization needs to find one that will suit the needs of their remote workers.

The right remote training tool needs to be able to deliver an efficient training session that is also convenient to use and flexible to the needs of the participants. It’s also essential to conduct a trial period for all the training and collaboration tools that the organization will use. An initial assessment will help gauge whether or not these tools will actually meet the needs of the remote workers.

BEST PRACTICE 3: Allow participants to learn at their own pace.

One of the perks of a remote office is that it grants scheduling flexibility for employees. Remote workers will be able to absorb more on their training sessions if they have the option to optimize their work hours at their own pace.

Distance learning can already bring a lot of distraction. Thus, keeping remote workers into a rigid training schedule will only frustrate them, and it may also decrease their engagement during the training sessions.

BEST PRACTICE 4: Provide an opportunity for socialization.

The social interactions of a training program are usually something that most employees look forward to. Unfortunately, these interactions are not easy to replicate when it comes to dealing with remote teams.

Remote training organizers need to find ways to help remote employees connect over a broader set of training initiatives. They can start a group chat where participants can casually interact, ask questions, and share progress updates. This channel can also help increase their sense of connection and accomplishment towards the training goals and objectives.

BEST PRACTICE 5: Ask the participants for feedback.

Remote workers do not have ways to express their insights and opinions unless the organization will specifically create an avenue for them to do so. This is why organizations need to ask for feedback from the remote training participants explicitly.

It can be done in the form of a group-wide chat, individual conversations, and even an anonymous survey. It’s crucial to give participants the opportunity to express their opinions regarding the company’s remote training efforts. It will not only prove that the organization values their insights, but it’s also a useful way to help the remote training organizers to improve their training.

BEST PRACTICE 6: Make training an integral part of the organization’s culture.

Don’t fall into the misconception that once the remote workers already have their training, they will function like a well-oiled machine without any more effort from the organization.

Organizations need to create and promote an atmosphere that encourages regular training among their remote workers. This will prove that the firm is fully invested in the growth and development of their remote workers.

Collaborate with employees and understand the skill sets they want to develop to advance their careers. Then, organizations need to offer training opportunities to match those aspirations continuously.

CASE STUDY: Sysgen RPO conducts a remote workforce training program

Situation: 

With the entire Luzon island under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in the Philippines, recruitment process outsourcing firm Sysgen RPO transitioned into a remote work setup since March 16, 2020. 

Challenge: 

The sudden transition to a remote work environment that was imposed by the Philippine government meant that the company could not conduct trial runs for this setup for the entire organization. 

However, since Sysgen RPO’s Business Continuity Plan was put into action, employees were guided by the company’s work from home policies to help them get settled in. 

The Solution: 

Sysgen RPO launched its remote workforce training program last March 27, 2020. The training programs include industry immersion for Healthcare and Life Sciences and the IT industry. They also conducted a brief grammar refresher course. There were a total of 75 participants from both the dayshift (22) and nightshift (53) employees.

Here’s the program flow of Sysgen RPO’s remote training program: 

Date Topic Hours
 

 

 

 

March 20, 2020

Industry Immersion: Healthcare and Life Sciences

·   Healthcare Industry

·   Patient Care

·   Nursing Care

·   Nursing License

·   Life Sciences

·   Drug Discovery Milestones

·   Drug Development Process

·   Medical Devices

·   Medical Device Companies

 

 

 

 

 

10:00 pm – 11:00 pm

 

 

March 25, 2020

How to be a Recruiter

·   Being a Recruiter

·   Proper Screening

·   Client Engagement

·   Obtaining Client Feedback

 

 

9:00 pm – 10:00 pm

 

 

March 26, 2020

Sourcing

·   Requisition Analysis

·   Boolean Search

·   Search String Creation

·   Dealing with Passive Candidates

 

 

9:00 pm – 10:00 pm

 

 

March 27, 2020

Industry Immersion: IT.

·   Introduction on Information Technology

·   SDLC

·   ITIL

·   Search String Tips

 

 

9:00 pm – 10:00 pm

 

 

March 31, 2020

RingCentral Training

·   Introduction to RingCentral

·   Navigating RingCentral

·   Basic RingCentral Functions

Group 1 – 10:00 pm – 10:30 pm

Group 2 – 10:30 pm – 11:00 pm

Group 3 – 11:00 pm – 11:30 pm

Group 4 – 11:30 pm – 12:00 am

Group 5 – 12:00 am – 12:30 am

 

April 14, 2020

Grammar Review Part 1

·   Prepositions

·   Conjunctions

·   Interjections

Group 1 – 1:00 am – 2:00 am

Group 2 – 2:30 am – 3:30 am

Group 3 – 4:00 am – 5:00 am

Group 4 – 5:30 am – 6:30 am

 

April 15, 2020

Grammar Review Part 2

·   Tenses

·   Articles

Group 1 – 1:00 am – 2:00 am

Group 2 – 2:30 am – 3:30 am

Group 3 – 4:00 am – 5:00 am

Group 4 – 5:30 am – 6:30 am

 

April 16, 2020

Grammar Review Part 3

·   Subject-Verb Agreement

·   Commonly Misused Words

Group 1 – 1:00 am – 2:00 am

Group 2 – 2:30 am – 3:30 am

Group 3 – 4:00 am – 5:00 am

Group 4 – 5:30 am – 6:30 am

 

April 21, 2020

Grammar Review Part 1

·   Prepositions

·   Conjunctions

·   Articles

 

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

 

April 22, 2020

Grammar Review Part 2

·   Subject-Verb Agreement

·   Tenses

 

3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

 

Overall, the training programs were a successful endeavor for Sysgen RPO. Although training employees would be a lot easier in a standard office setup, using online tools and platforms such as GoToMeeting and RingCentral made it easier for both the trainers and participants to interact with each other. 

Participants from Sysgen RPO remote training program

 

Sysgen RPO Grammar Review Training Session

 

Testimonials from Sysgen RPO Participants:

From Participant 1 on Grammar Review Upskill Training

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in planning and executing this month’s thorough Grammar Review training program. The materials and content were all relevant and were able to address the usual mistakes and questions of most employees. The program’s objectives were clearly identified; that’s why we were able to highlight the training’s significant learning points.”

Participant #5 on Grammar Review Upskill Training

“The Grammar Review Upskill Training is really helpful in constructing sentences we use daily in speaking with candidates more appropriately. It’s also fun as we have interaction with our officemates from a different account.” 

Participant #4 on Healthcare and Life Sciences

“My overall experience with the training that we had was very informative. Although I’m on the Information Technology side, I still find this helpful. Learning about different stuff on healthcare and life science is fun. It was a fun experience, and I’m looking forward to another session and another topic as well.” 

Participant #2 on Healthcare and Life Sciences and IT.

“The Topic was well covered, concrete examples were provided and explained very well by the presenter. I wish it could’ve been more interactive and fun to keep the ball rolling. But the overall experience was good. I’ve learned new things and got detailed answers from all questions.”

Even in times of uncertainty, Sysgen RPO remains fully committed to its employee’s growth and development.  

Sysgen will always come up with new and innovative ways to learn. They can even do so remotely if the need arises. As such, we are still fully capable of meeting your recruitment needs even during these troubled times. 

Our team of resilient and hardworking employees is here to help you. Contact us now and learn more!

References:

Apostolopoulos, A. (2020). Common Remote Team Training Mistakes and How to Avoid Them. TalentLMS Blog. Retrieved 30 April 2020, from https://www.talentlms.com/blog/remote-team-training-mistakes/ 

Flynn, M. (2018). 3 Keys to Successful Learning in the Remote Workplace – Training Industry. Training Industry. Retrieved 30 April 2020, from https://trainingindustry.com/articles/remote-learning/3-keys-to-successful-learning-in-the-remote-workplace/

Lead Your Business Through the Coronavirus Crisis. (2020). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved 1 May 2020, from https://hbr.org/2020/02/lead-your-business-through-the-coronavirus-crisis

Remote Training: 6 Tips to Boost Remote Learning. (2020). GoSkills.com. Retrieved 30 April 2020, from https://www.goskills.com/Blog/Remote-training

Shimkus, D. (2020). Learning Is Essential To Your Remote Workplace Strategy. Forbes. Retrieved 30 April 2020, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/darrenshimkus/2020/04/09/learning-is-essential-to-your-remote-workplace-strategy/#3e8c0e108f95