One of the biggest hurdles in managing remote employees is remote employee training. Whether you're onboarding a brand new employee or trying to communicate a new process to your entire team, training remote employees can be tough.
Remote employee training requires teams to navigate technical challenges, overcome scheduling woes and communicate in a way that meets everyone's learning styles. In many ways, training a remote team requires managers to use all their remote work tools and skills simultaneously.
Thankfully, there are a few best practices, principles and technologies that can make the entire process a bit easier. In this article, we're sharing nine of them.
9 best practices for training remote employees
Here are nine remote employee training tips to help you ensure your remote team gets started on the right foot.
1. Embrace technology
Remote work and technology go hand-in-hand. So, you want to take full advantage of it when training remote employees.
There are tons of training-focused and supportive tools to use. These include learning management solutions (LMS), simulation tools, virtual reality environments, interactive learning programs, training apps, collaboration tools, shared productivity tools (checklists, notes, to-do lists), conference meetings, games, etc.
Stack a mix of educational tools and apps to enable shared work, team collaboration, and fun!
2. Cater to different learning styles and needs
Offer remote employee training options that cater to different learning styles: visual, auditory, linguistic and kinesthetic. And consider whether your employees are social or solitary learners.
- Visual learners thrive on pictures, images, graphics and any visual depictions of information. These team members do best with videos, presentations, infographics and other visual media.
- Auditory or aural learners prefer to listen to information and do well with auditory lessons or lectures. Lectures and audio recordings are ideal for them, along with phoning into video conferences.
- Linguistic learners are suited to reading, writing and verbal learning. As a result, courses should include reading material, quizzes and question sessions.
- Kinesthetic or physical learners prefer hands-on, tactile learning that incorporates all the senses and allows them to use their body, hands and sense of touch. Interactive media, simulation apps, and virtual reality are a few ways to pull this off when training a remote team.
Social versus solitary refers to whether a person thrives in group-based and social learning or when learning alone and undisturbed. Not all remote workers are extroverts, super outgoing or naturally sociable. So, make sure to provide solo study methods, along with opportunities for more social learning.
3. Micro-train them
Micro-training sessions are typically far more effective than longer ones. This is because we can only take in so much information at once. Offering long sessions crammed with information is like aiming a fire hose at a dehydrated person. Sipping from a glass of water is a much better way to replenish.
In fact, scientific research shows micro-learning improves focus, long-term retention and overall learning outcomes. So, keep your remote employee training sessions short, snappy and manageable. Less than 10 minutes is best, and 15 is fine. However, 20 minutes should be considered the max.
4. Space it out and stagger it
Most people can't learn something once and then remember it forever. Generally speaking, we learn and forget on a curve. This means memory retention diminishes over time when there's no learning reinforcement or attempts to retain it.
Herman Ebbinghaus, a German psychologist, studied memory retention from 20 minutes to 31 days after learning material once. And the drop-off is steep.
Immediately after a one-hour lecture, learners remember all or most of what was taught. But 20 minutes after, learners remember only 58%. Learners remember 33% one day later, 25% seven days later and 21% thirty-one days late.
That's the forgetting curve. The flip side is the learning curve, where we remember better and become more knowledgeable, adept, skilled and proficient by repeatedly learning or practicing something over time.
Optimize remote employee training by incorporating spaced-out learning, practice and recall or review sessions. Then incorporate periodic refresh and review sessions. These neuroscience-based remote training tips ensure that employees retain what they've learned and work nicely with microlearning.
5. Prime them for learning
Priming refers to introducing students to new material before a teaching or training session. It can be done at the beginning of the session, the morning of or a day or two before.
This cognitive psychology technique utilizes the power of preconception and association to stimulate cognitive engagement and speed up learning. Priming familiarizes students with what they're about to learn and sets up an early knowledge framework. Students can process material much faster once they have this initial foundation.
Academics prime their students by assigning pre-class reading material. For remote employee training, this can be as simple as providing learning objectives, a checklist, an outline or even a summary of core points that team members can prime themselves with before a training session.
6. Get feedback
There seems to be an employer-employee disconnect regarding learning, skill-building and training. HR consultants Hays and Go1 note that employers aren't doing well at identifying and embedding skills needed by their workforce or acquiring learning content that comprehensively meets their employees' learning needs.
In a survey of 5,000 organizations and 15,000 professionals, the consultants found that only 48% of professionals believed their workplace's learning resources enabled them to upskill for the role, yet 60% of employers felt the resources offered were sufficient.
Don't assume your training materials are enough. Instead, make sure to get feedback during and after training. Check-in periodically in person or with polls, surveys and other tools.
Gamification incorporates game-based principles, elements and mechanisms into learning to boost motivation, engagement and participation. These tactics are perfect for training a remote team.
Here are a few gamified remote employee training tips and ideas:
- Use points, levels and statuses to recognize learning and incentive completion
- Use avatars, scoreboards and leaderboards to make learning a competitive community activity
- Offer rewards like gift cards, discounts or corporate swag
- Sort remote team members into pairs or groups and have them compete against each other to solve problems, rack up scores, get through activities or reach other learning objectives
Don't make remote employee training a bore. Tech allows you to utilize advanced gamification principles and methods that turn learning into fun, culturally enhancing, team-building events.
8. Make remote employee training collaborative and social
Integrate collaborative group training activities and make learning an opportunity for socialization. Group-based training refers to interactive and cooperative learning, such as using the jigsaw technique or hosting prompted discussions.
The jigsaw technique has each student learn different pieces of the material, then teach it to the rest of the group. The group then puts everything together and presents what they've learned. Jigsaw sessions can be particularly great when training a remote team with cross-functional members playing different organizational roles. It'll help build team cohesion while training, too.
Many learning management solutions include group chats. If your organization uses one of those, encourage team members to discuss their learning and skill-building. If your company isn't using an LMS, designate a Slack, Microsoft Teams channel or other corporate communication channels for training-related conversation.
9. Build learning into the culture
Remote employee training can't feel like a quick, troublesome task. Instead, learning has to be an organizational priority supported by management and engrained into the culture.
Today's workforce highly values opportunities for learning, training, upskilling, reskilling and development in general. In fact, it's now the top factor defining an exceptional workplace and is considered the best way to improve company culture. In addition, it's correlated to better employee engagement, profitability, productivity and retention.
And survey after survey finds employees quite willing to leave an employer if they don't have sufficient learning and development opportunities. So, take the time to ensure your workplace values, promotes and enables growth, development and progression.
Make hiring, onboarding and training a breeze with Outstaffer.com
Ultimately, training remote employees isn't that different than training in-person ones. If you want to supercharge your remote employee training, consider incorporating the advanced learning principles, gamification techniques and technology included in this article.
If you want to level up your remote onboarding and management, we can help.
As a global Employer of Record and #WorkFromAnywhere technology platform, Outstaffer makes it easy to hire, onboard, manage and pay your remote employees. Plus, with our solutions like Managed Devices, Employee Monitoring and VR Workplaces, we simplify training and make it possible for your remote team to thrive.