Here’s the cold, hard truth: some things are not going to return to the way they were before COVID-19. The traditional work week of showing up to an office every weekday from 9-5 is under siege. A report from Condesco in 2019 says that 45 percent of U.S. companies offer some form of remote work, and that number will only continue to increase as the global pandemic forces many companies to follow suit. And if employees are working remotely, they’ll need to be trained remotely too.
While taking your training operation remote may require some maneuvering and initial legwork, it’s ultimately a positive thing. Both eLearning and mobile learning have proven advantages over the traditional classroom model and are much more cost effective than in-person training. And employees prefer it too, enjoying greater flexibility and the ability to learn at their own pace.
But how do you take your training remote? It’s not simply transferring your current training to an electronic format. Below are six steps to successfully take your training remote.
Re-evaluate Your Training Strategy
If you’re just now looking to take your training remote, it’s likely your training needs some updates. Take advantage of this time to consider where you can improve. Talk to your employees and find out what kind of training works best for your needs.
Are most of your trainees doing their job on the move, or is working at a desk more prevalent? Are quick videos and just-in-time resources sufficient, or are more intensive programs necessary? This is the perfect time to improve your training, so do your research first and get it right!
Choose a Delivery System
After you’ve done your research and decided on your updated remote training strategy, it’s time to choose your delivery system. There are several options from which to choose:
Synchronous (Webinars, Live Chat)
Synchronous learning resembles the traditional classroom model where a teacher or instructor presents learning material to a group of students in real-time. Remotely, this occurs via online video conferencing—often referred to as a webinar. While online synchronous learning helps learners combat transactional distance by offering face-to-face communication, the medium is limited by poor learner engagement and lower knowledge retention and is notoriously difficult to schedule.
Asynchronous (eLearning, mobile learning)
Asynchronous learning occurs individually, as instructors prepare materials and present them online for learners to interact with on their own. Remotely, this is best exhibited by eLearning and mobile learning platforms.
eLearning is traditionally considered a more formal, structured form of education, organized like an online classroom, with an instructor, set lessons, and assessments. It is commonly associated with desktop and laptop computers and focuses on deeper retention of a particular set of skills or knowledge, with lessons typically ranging from 20-30 minutes. eLearning offers significant advantages to webinars (higher engagement and knowledge retention, flexible scheduling, etc.) and is best suited for complex skill sets and memorization. However, eLearning lacks mobility and can be extremely expensive to implement.
Mobile learning is less structured and formal, offering resources that are on-demand or “just in time.” It is commonly associated with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets and focuses less on memorization and more on performance and experience, with lessons typically ranging from 2-15 minutes. Mobile learning has proven training advantages to both webinars and eLearning, resulting in higher employee engagement and motivation, better skills acquisition, and greater mobility and learner flexibility. Since information is always available, learners are able to quickly access key data and review relevant information about a task to improve their productivity and make better-informed decisions in real-time. Content is limited due to the nature of the medium (small screens, limited bandwidth) and requires more instructional design work but is a much cheaper option that offers the most benefit when done correctly.
Blended learning is any combination of synchronous and asynchronous methods. Since blended learning encompasses multiple delivery mediums, its flexibility offers learners more options to interact with content in their preferred learning style, but it requires significant planning and cost to successfully implement. However, most companies have been forced to adopt a video conferencing platform due to the pandemic, which makes a blended approach much more cost-effective.
As you can see, there are benefits and limitations to any delivery system you choose, so it is imperative to understand your organization’s training goals and strategy and then decide accordingly.
Build Your Training Content
Once your organization has chosen their training content delivery method, it’s time to start planning and building your training content. This will depend heavily on the delivery platform, as each performs best with different types of content.
Webinars work best with a good instructor and well-designed visuals (PowerPoint slides are common). eLearning offers more flexibility and performs best with a healthy mix of textual information and multimedia such as videos and interactive quizzes and games. Mobile learning is restricted to smaller screens and focuses on quick, visual information like short instructional videos, diagrams, and interactive material.
Assess your existing training materials and see what can be repurposed or broken down into separate lessons. Often, the best direction is to research the most successful content-types for whichever delivery method you choose, decide what existing materials can be reused or repurposed, and then make a plan for creating and building supplemental material to fill in the gaps.
Make Training a Company Value, But Offer More than Just Training
Career development and continued training rank near the top of almost every poll that cites employment desires and expectations. A 2018 report on workforce activity shows that 40 percent of departing employees list lack of career development as a dissatisfying factor in their job, and according to a Gallup study, 87 percent of millennials say that professional training and career growth are very important. So not only is training important for performance and productivity, it’s also important in attracting and retaining talent.
As you update and rework your training program to move remote, make sure to put an emphasis on training as part of the company culture. Show your employees that you are invested in their futures as well as their present performance—it’s a win-win for both employer and employee!
But why stop there? The majority of remote training platforms offer functionality that extends past just remote training. Utilize your chosen tool to its maximum benefit by using it as a central location for all company info and content (newsletters, announcements, important documents, etc). Does your tool offer communications or social features? Keep everyone on the same page in addition to being trained and ready.
Be Receptive of Feedback
It’s inevitable that some of your employees are going to be resistant to change. It’s important to listen to feedback and understand your employees’ needs. Set up a way for everyone to feel heard and voice their complaints as well as their suggestions. This could be anything from a weekly virtual check-in to a board where people can sporadically post messages. It’s a weird time in the world, and things will run smoother if your organization works together to develop a successful strategy for remote training and content delivery.
Offer Tech and Content Support
With great technology comes great responsibility the need for tech support. There is going to be a learning curve with any new technology, so be sure to offer support for those struggling with the new training method. Even the most tech savvy person can struggle with new methods, so have patience and make sure you’re set up to help for best results.
Remote training is here to stay, and it’s never been more important than now to make the switch.
Looking to take your training remote? Request a demo and speak to a learning specialist about how Capillary can reduce training cost while increasing engagement!
 “The Modern Workplace: People, Places & Technology.” Condesco Software, 2019, www.condecosoftware.com/resources-hub/wp-content/uploads/sites/8/2019/05/Condeco-workplace-report-2019-Digital-Copy.pdf.