Best Practices for Educating Remote Workers
The best practices for implementing a plan to train adults working remotely include laying out the plan and goal of the training, designing effective content, employing dynamic learning strategies, and using the right technology and tools. However, the success of the training process also hinges on hiring the right talent.
To select the best practices for educating remote employees, we carefully analyzed dozens of literature pieces on the subject from various experts in reputable sources. We were careful to exclude sources from companies that were offering a solution in the field or that were marketing a product to prevent bias. We also focused on practices that apply to educating employees on topics such as soft skills, grammar, writing, customer service, among others. We then selected the best practices based on either the number of times such practice was recommended or advised by multiple reputable sources, or based on practices that have proven successful for multiple companies that have implemented it. Although we looked at dozens of sources, we prioritized data from a study by Accenture because they studied dozens of companies offering remote training and education to arrive at its best practices they recommend. Below, you will find more details of the best practices and why each best practice was selected.
1) Begin with the Hiring Process
To effectively train remote employees, most experts on the subject agree that recruiting the right employee is a prerequisite. This is because every training must have a minimum skill/education requirement for particpant, and unless the remote employee has the required skill to engage with the training content, even the best laid out training guide or module will be ineffective. This also involves ensuring that those hired do not have any barrier to learning digitally, such as good internet connection or a suitable device, as well as a good grasp of the language of instruction.
It is best to hire those with remote working experience who have demonstrated good organizational skills, time management and self-motivation without direct supervision. Not only are the skills crucial and will ensure the employee engage with the training content and complete their training assignments and evaluation on schedule, it is also important for remote work itself.
Why It is a Best Practice: Four different articles on the subject from trusted media sources and experts on the subject (Havard, Inc, Panadoc, and Jobattical) recommend this practice.
2) Lay Out the Plan and Goals
Experts state that it is essential to clearly define the goal of the training and exactly what each module or phase of the training is expected to achieve. The goal and expectation of each module should be clearly communicated at the beginning of the training and each module or phase of the training should try to incorporate tests and measures for each goal. When employees understand what goals they need to accomplish and how success will be measured and evaluated, it makes them more accountable, ensuring the training is effective. It is important to have tools that will evaluate how remote employees are doing (for example quizzes, worksheets, demo tasks, etc) and how to follow up if they not meeting expectations.
Why It is A Best Practice: This is one of the practices PwC employs when laying out its own digital learning program for its employee. In addition, Accenture's study into how best to create digital learning also recommends this. Moreover, other industry sources such as Sales Loft and ADP recommend it as well.
3) Design Effective Content
Accenture's study on how to create effective digital training emphasizes the need to create effective educational content. It is important to provide content and a training plan that caters to different type of learners. According to Accenture, some learners are individualists who prefer self-paced lessons, some are result-oriented learners who prefer learning that is integrated with work and that is practical, some are pragmatic and only want lessons that suit their personal needs, and others are avant-garde learners that prefer interactive and didactic learning.
PwC employs a similar tactic with its digital learning center for its employees. They provide general content they expect their employees to master online as well as additional content that is geared towards different learning interests and that allows staff to personalize their learning program.
Accenture advises the need for both synchronous learning where lessons are delivered to a group virtually and asynchronous learning where individuals can access content independently. They note that companies such as IVMF have seen the best outcome in its digital training model by employing the model.
It is also important to provide an appropriate support structure even to learners who prefer independent learning. A company that has been successful with this strategy is Upwardly Global. The company's digital training platform is designed to let the instructor know when an employee has accessed and/or completed a training program or module assigned to them. The enables the instructor to then follow up with the person and provide additional support, clarification or other advice at logical points throughout the training module.
Why It is A Best Practice: Companies such as Upwardly Global, IVMF, and PwC have developed effective remote teaching content based on this practice, and it is highly recommended by Accenture.
4) Use Dynamic Learning
It is important that remote training and content is dynamic or has some element of dynamism to improve engagement. Static digital learning simply involves providing the same content and assessment online the same way you would provide the content offline. While it is good and can be effective, dynamic learning can be more engaging and more effective. Dynamic learning is similar to static learning, but tailors the training to the individual. The training content and quiz questions are tailored based on "the previous answers and quiz performance to match the needs of the learner." The advantage of this is that since remote staff will likely have different levels of competency, dynamic training will allow for efficient use of time and resources to deliver content most needed by the learner, bringing them to proficiency regardless of starting level
competency." This approach has been successfully adopted by PwC, Skills to Success Academy, and GMAT.
Another dynamic learning concept that successfully improves engagement and learning effectiveness is the use of gamification and reward system. Here, scenario-based problems, games, and puzzles are used to test the learners nuanced understanding of the subject. Learners also get to win points or other kind of rewards when they are successful at the end. This helps improve engagement and interactiveness. Skills to Success Academy and PwC employ this strategy.
Another dynamic method is the use of social media or tools such as Slack to provide real-time feedback during learning or allow for a window for questions and answers during learning. Social media tools can also be used to create online study and discussion groups and this has been shown to lower the drop out rate and lead to increased completion on the program. IVMF has been successful with this strategy.
Why It is A Best Practice: Companies such as Skills to Success Academy, IVMF, and GMAT, PwC have developed effective remote teaching content based on this practice, and it is highly recommended by Accenture.
5) USE THE RIGHT TOOLS
Employing the right tools and software to provide remote training is essential and key to the success of the program. Tools such as screen capture software are essential so that those in training can easily see what the instructor is doing. Open communication is also a must and tools such as Slack is essential. Slack allows for community building as well as interaction around specific subjects, making it easy to create a dynamic learning environment.
It's important to ensure that mobile-friendly tools are used to create and share the content so that those using mobile devices can easily engage with the training. Data analytics and performance management tools that enable companies to measure what is working and what is not working, including tools to assess the capability/skill requirements is also essential. Game-based learning tools such as the one created by HP and VIA that are effective and inexpensive and allow for customization is also ideal. Other recommended tools include "project management tools (e.g. Trello, Asana, JIRA), file sharing (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox), video conferencing and screen sharing (e.g. HighFive, GoToMeeting), productivity (e.g. iDoneThis), career development and e-learning (e.g. Udemy)."
Why it is a best Practice; The practice was recommended by Accenture, PwC, Work Stride, Talent Management & HR, and CEO World.
1) This study by Accenture is packed full of tips on running a successful digital training program. The study analyzed dozens of digital learning program and provides case studies and recommendation based on successful remote education implementation and warns on pitfalls based on less successful approach.