How to train a remote workforce

by Brett Henebery28 Mar 2017
The World Economic Forum (WEF) has declared remote work one of the biggest drivers of transformation in today’s workplace – and for good reason.

The traditional 9am-5pm model of work, where learners carry out their tasks from a single office, is rapidly disappearing as more organisations hire remote workers.

So how should L&D professionals respond to this change? After all, if you’re hiring a remote workforce, the training isn’t going to be done in person (the practice familiar to most managers). And how

Below, author, speaker and consultant, Chip Espinoza, told Training Zone five ways in which organisations should approach this new phenomenon.

1. Look for remote work experience
The best way to minimize the difficulties that could arise from training remote workers is to ensure that your employees are coming to you with some remote work experience to begin with. Employees who’ve never worked remotely before have a greater adjustment to make, whereas employees used to working remotely are more likely to have the self-control necessary to maintain their own schedule, understand of the difficulties of remote work and know how to seek out information as needed.

2. Establish peer-to-peer informal learning
One of the best ways to learn is by example. Informal learning through fellow employees will help your training along by giving participants real life examples to model after and more resources to turn to for help. Avoid keeping your remote employees separate; connect them and encourage them to communicate amongst themselves, or set up some sort of employee social media network that will let them easily communicate and keep track of what other employees are doing.

3. Look for at least one face-to-face meeting
Although this isn’t an option for everyone, there is still something absolutely invaluable and irreplaceable about face-to-face meetings. The best way to prepare an employee for training and bring them into the company fold is to begin with face-to-face meetings and training sessions before remote work can start. However, this is not an option for everyone; in that case, a series of Skype calls can substitute to help provide the face time and familiarity that in-person meetings offer.

4. Have all training documents prepared
If you’re just transitioning into remote work, it is critical you make sure that you have training documents, guides and manuals prepared for employees before they arrive. These documents should be extremely extensive and detailed - as detailed as you can. A good strategy for training employees is to assume nothing about the technical knowledge they bring to the table. Explain everything, if you can. Screenshots and videos to walk your employees through new systems, online courses to show them what skills they need, basic Wikipedia’s and networks available are all necessary to the training process for remote employees.

5. Give them flexibility in pace
Employees look to remote work because they want more flexibility, both in where and when they work. Your remote employees are almost certainly going to be mostly left to complete work on their own, which means their training styles should follow a similar method. Although it’s critical to check in, talk to your employees, make yourself available to clarify when needed and follow up to see if they’re learning what they need to, it’s best to give your employees the information they need and let them travel through it at their own pace.

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The pros and cons of hiring remote workers
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