It’s one thing to have experienced staff working remotely. They know what they’re supposed to do and how and when to do it.

Training staff that are new to your organization and to the way you do things presents challenges that in-person training doesn’t. Based on experiences over the past year, here are some common pitfalls and solutions, as well as best practices.

Don’t Duplicate In-Person Training

Many organizations try to run their usual training as a Zoom meeting, which often isn’t effective.

Compare in-person training to the remote experience.

When attending a conference or training program, you shower, eat breakfast, dress and travel to a location where everyone is seated together. The process takes a significant commitment.

That’s much different from the remote experience, where you eat breakfast, dress (maybe from the waist up), and then sit in front of a screen at your kitchen table or the corner of your living room or bedroom.

That’s only the beginning, because you aren’t all in one place, visually engaged, taking breaks together and socializing. You’re in your own little world, possibly distracted by people or pets.

Are you really engaged? Are you multi-tasking?

And from the trainer’s side, are participants paying attention? Can you tell if they’re engaged? Many trainers measure engagement by the reactions they get, which is almost impossible in a remote session.

Keeping People Engaged

The key to engaging remote employees can be easily summed up: involve them more than you might for in-person training. A PowerPoint deck may work for in-person training, for instance, but rethink your presentation for remote sessions. Role-playing, short videos with examples, quick pop quizzes, and exercises that break up the session work better for remote audiences.

Other best practices include the following:

Before the session

  • Distribute materials and information early, so participants can start to master the material
  • Seek opinions and input about what trainees would like to cover, if possible
  • Ask trainees to submit 2-3 questions in advance that they’d like to have answered as part of the training

During the session

  • Ask questions
  • Have trainees nod or give a thumbs up to show that they understand the material
  • Break up the session with chat rooms, where small groups can discuss concepts or solve problems (give them an agenda)
  • Ask that participants keep their video on at all times
  • Insist that they put phones and other distractions away
  • Share your expectations with the participants at the beginning and throughout the training

After the session

  • Record the session so participants or anyone who missed it can review
  • Schedule tests or other follow-ups to make sure trainees understand and have mastered the information

Above all, trainers should be flexible. Children and pets will cause distractions. Someone’s internet will go out. Someone will forget to mute their audio and create background noise.

Think of it this way. In an office or other facility, the trainer can often control the environment: the lighting, the temperature, how the material is presented. With remote training, every participant is in a different setting. Some may need to retreat to a closet or bathroom for privacy. Some may be in a noisy environment that offers no quiet options.

Measuring Success For Remote Training

Organizations can use two strategies to make sure that employees have learned the material and, more importantly, are ready to implement it.

First, ask them to write down and submit answers to these questions:

  • What one thing will you share with others that you learned?
  • What one thing will you change immediately?
  • What one thing will you change at some time in the future? What is it? And what’s the target date for you to do that?

Second, always send a survey and ask for feedback. Only 10-15% will likely respond, but you’ll still get valuable feedback. If you wish, make the responses anonymous so people feel free to be honest.

In addition, keep detailed notes about each training session: what worked, what didn’t, and what should be tweaked for the next session. Training isn’t just a learning opportunity for the trainees, but for the trainer and organization as well.

The Lindenberger Group has up-to-date best practices that can help workplaces train employees more effectively and thrive in virtual and hybrid environments. For more information or to discuss your HR needs, please contact us at 609-730-1049 or send us an email.