2020 was the year remote work became the global norm. With that sudden development came a panicked rush to adapt to this new way of working. Some companies prioritized building a remote-first company culture, others invested in remote tech. But one thing all organizations will have to do moving forward is learn how best to train remote teams.
Whether it’s mentoring, onboarding new employees, or getting teams to grips with new software, training employees and helping them develop can be significantly more challenging when you work remotely – so how can we make it easier? Here are five tips for delivering effective remote employee training.
Create onboarding resources (and keep them up to date)
Onboarding employees remotely is an obvious challenge: how can you properly welcome, set up and train a new employee when you don’t get a chance to meet face-to-face? One of the most helpful things you can do is create onboarding resources so new remote employees have all the information and materials they need to start out on the right foot. This could come in any form – a PowerPoint presentation, a video, maybe a “welcome pack” that comes with company-branded merchandise, to help your new hire feel part of the team. The main thing is that the key information is there, and up to date.
There are several things you need to cover when onboarding people remotely. The first is who the company is, their story, and mission. The second is how each department works – so strategy, workflows, processes, people and how your new employee fits into all this. The third is explaining different tools, and how and when they should be used. The last is training itself: how will employees get to grips with tools and processes? However you decide to create your onboarding resources, they should be sent to the employee before they actually start their role. Then, a manager or mentor should check in with them to ensure they have everything they need, and answer any questions they might still have.
This year has forced us down a path of rapid digital transformation. One big perk that’s come from this is the advancement of remote tech, and by leveraging the right tech you can make it infinitely easier to teach people virtually. To inject a bit of humanity into your communication, look for ways to enable face-time when you can, and use tools like Zoom and Skype to check in and provide more personalized assistance.
You can also use remote work management tech for more specific purposes – like introducing a new employee to unfamiliar software. For example, Userlane provides step-by-step guides, both onscreen and in real-time, that enable remote employees to manage new software without any prior knowledge or formal training. You could even ensure tools like Userlane form part of your onboarding resources.
Create searchable knowledge banks and repositories
When a company is made up of lots of different people specializing in different areas, it’s a given that at some point you’ll need their expertise. But when you’re working remotely, often in different countries and time zones, you can’t always expect someone to be available to help when you need it. Setting up searchable knowledge banks or repository tools – like internal “wikis” for your company – is a great way to collect expert insight and help employees become more efficient.
Once you establish a central location for all company knowledge, you’re providing all employees with an enormously helpful resource library. Not only does this ensure employees have all the materials and information they need, it also allows them to work more autonomously, and feel confident that the knowledge they need is at their fingertips.
It’s easy for remote teams to feel disconnected, so it’s important for managers to schedule daily check-ins. This might seem like overkill, but in the initial phases it can help anchor your team and encourage individuals to check-in with each other more, too. If you’re giving your team instructions, don’t just give them and then step aside; instead, circle back regularly to check people are on track, follow-up on any concerns, and make sure you stay available for questions.
Over-communication is always better than under-communication in this instance – but try to encourage your team to communicate with other team members too. You could set up team-specific channels on Slack where people can share questions or observations – or even suggestions for how they think you could improve the remote employee training process.
You might be serious about training your team – but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it along the way. Consider whether you can include gamification elements into your training sessions, like creating fun quizzes. Not only does this help keep engagement high, it also injects a healthy dose of competition to stimulate team work and bonding.
If this isn’t possible, try to provide a training opportunity that allows your remote employees to socialize as they learn. Virtual happy hours and pizza parties have become all the range this year – so why not combine them with a virtual training session? Not only can this get employees looking forward to training sessions, it can also provide them with a comfortable environment to speak their mind, ask any questions they have, and get to know their fellow team-members better.