In recent years, many organizations have instituted work-from-home policies or hired remote staff members. In fact, more than 35 percent of American employees regularly telecommute, according to Gallup. The benefits of such work arrangements are well-known: workers are happier and more productive, and organizations save money on office space and equipment. Of course, remote working policies complicate key workplace practices, like employee training.
However, you can overcome distance-related obstacles and offer meaningful training programs for remote employees by following some essential guidelines.
Develop Web-based training
Web-based tools are an essential part of most work-from-home strategies. It's only logical that they would hold a similarly important position in remote employee training programs. Effective online training initiatives feature common characteristics, Tech Republic reported. Most are centered on glitch-free delivery platforms. Employees taking advantage of top-notch, Web-based training programs aren't distracted by glitchy user interfaces or software, and can give their full attention to the instructional material.
Additionally, many deliver bite-sized lessons that don't take up much time. This approach enables employees to take in essential content without sacrificing their productivity. Plus, with shorter, less time-consuming sessions, they can focus on absorbing information rather than just finishing.
"The learning experience comes under time pressure, so employees become much more concerned with finishing than actually learning," Gerald Gschwind, a consultant for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based workforce training company VisionCor, told Tech Republic.
Strong Web-based training programs also offer channels for user feedback and facilitate peer-to-peer learning through messaging systems or group forums.
To get your initiative off the ground, you should develop an online portal with these characteristics. This system will serve as the foundation for your program.
Start with an in-person meeting
Before you can dole out login credentials to your shiny new training platform, you must first set the stage by meeting with your remote workers in person, Mashable recommended. Most organizations with robust work-from-home policies require remote employees to spend an allotted amount of time at headquarters. If you're a part of such a company, assemble your team during one of these times and talk through the training. Offer up your expectations and outline the benefits. Go through any incentives and try to stoke some excitement.
Of course, if you're running a smaller organization with an entirely remote workforce, schedule some team time in your local coffee shop. But, no matter which situation your in, make sure to kick off with face-to-face interaction.
Communication is key when it comes to remote workers. Though most are productive and impactful in their solitude, too much alone time can take a toll, the Society for Human Resource Management found. Sometimes, remote workers can feel isolated and cut off from their employers, resulting in disengagement. This is problematic, especially during training.
"Facilitate engagement by scheduling regular check-ins."
Facilitate engagement during online training sessions by scheduling regular check-ins. If you're too busy to set up a video conference or schedule phone time, adopt Web-based applications that enable your employees to contact you to ask questions or seek clarification. Many organizations adopt internal messaging applications like Slack or host some supplemental training materials over Google's online suite of productivity tools, all of which offer conduits for communication. During employee training, you can never assume your employees will understand every little instructional quirk. So, be available and keep in touch.
Keep it self-paced
To work with remote employees, you must be flexible and understand that most don't work on the same schedule as their desk-bound counterparts. Keep this in mind as you configure training goals and thresholds. Factor in their responsibilities and individual working habits and remember, they most likely differ from your own.