Organizations around the world have implemented work-from-home policies as a key measure to reduce COVID-19 spread. However, most corporations weren’t fully prepared to leverage flexible work as a strategic approach.
Leadership continuously asked the same questions again and again:
- How do we maintain communication with employees?
- What technology and other resources does the team need to work remotely?
- How can employees stay productive?
- How can employees stay engaged and motivated?
SO, WHY TRAIN PEOPLE TO WORK ONLINE?
According to a survey from Buffer, a company that develops and supports clients through tools for the web and mobile apps to help manage accounts in social networks, 99% of those surveyed indicated a strong preference for working online.
To put that data point into perspective, we need to understand the potential of working online in the years to come. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), of the total number of workers who could potentially work from home, only 29% actually do/did work remotely. So, when 99% of the Buffer survey-takers indicate their preference to work from home, that gives employers an indication of the untapped prospect of online work in years to come.
Training employees, especially those that are new to the workforce, to focus and be productive is a challenge even on-premises. The task gets especially difficult when training workers to work remotely. That’s because remote employees face a few additional challenges that on-premises workers don’t. Here are some common challenges of remote employee training.
Limited or no face-to-face supervision
When supervisors or line managers work with employees in a workplace setting, they’re able to visually monitor, guide, and communicate with their staff. However, with remote employees, that level of oversight falls short. Remote employee training especially hampers supervisor ability to pick up visual cues from body language – something that is best accomplished when all parties to an interaction meet face-to-face.
The absence of face-to-face contact also doesn’t help the employee. They too fall victim to the inability of reading body language and subtle cues sent out by their trainers, supervisors, and managers.
Barriers to access to information
Working remotely handicaps employee access to documents and other information that they would typically retrieve from a file cabinet or desk drawer at the office. This makes them less productive. Even in a 100% digitized workplace (which is a rarity), other challenges, like online access privileges, home internet bandwidth constraints, and corporate firewall policies may hamper, if not completely deny, timely access to much-needed information.
Remote learners often face technical difficulties with accessing course content or configuring their home networks for optimal online learning. Even performing other tasks remotely, like having IT support physically troubleshoot a stubborn software, which wouldn’t be a challenge in an in-person environment, can impede online work. Your training must address those challenges.
Social seclusion and isolation
The physical workplace is a social melting pot, where employees not only do the “stuff” they are paid to do but also engage in other forms of social interactions. Psychologists and mental health experts believe these “other interactions” are important for staff mental acuity and workplace productivity. Being in physical contact with other workers also facilitates spontaneous social learning and peer exchanges – something that remote employees can’t perform as readily via emails, text messaging, and social media chat forums.
Social and personal distractions
With remote work (a.k.a. “Work from home”) also comes additional “remote distractions”. Whether it’s the neighbor’s kid crying, a dog barking, someone playing their music too loud or a sick parent or young child requiring attention – they distract. Such distractions, which don’t occur at the office, encroach on remote workers’ ability to concentrate and be productive.
WHAT CAN LEADERSHIP DO?
The good news is that, with the right training, workforces can learn what it takes to work online and be productive.
It’s likely that some of the workers you employ in the future may be savvy remote workers; but many – especially those entering the workforce for the first time, may not know how to work online. Additionally, a segment of your current workforce might also not be savvy in working online. Knowing how to train these workers to perform work online can turn an apparent liability (the inability to perform online work) into a powerful asset that delivers a competitive edge to your company.
The good news is that these challenges aren’t insurmountable. There are many ways to deal with them. However, it’s imperative for employers to provide workforce the necessary training to equip themselves with those strategies and tactics. And, that’s precisely what my new eBook aims to do.
It is a detailed guide for leadership that covers how to train new remote workers to successfully work online from home or anywhere else away from the office. This eBook also provides important additional skills and resources to people who are already familiar with working online. Additionally, it includes important information for remote managers and team leaders on how to turn their online teams into highly motivated employees.
The objective of this eBook is to provide trainers and remote team managers with a set of best practices that:
- May be used verbatim in your own online work training program. For example, when creating your own course to train your team to work online, you might include a learning objective titled “How to Maximize Efficiency and Productivity of Remote Work”, and include everything covered in Chapter 2 of this guide as your teaching points.
- May be used as templates or starting points for your own course, and tailor them to your needs. For instance, instead of using the content from Chapter 2 “as is” you may wish to re-organize the content into two separate chapters – “How to Maximize Efficiency”, and “How to Improve Productivity”, and cover relevant learning objectives from Chapter 2 within the two new chapters you create.
- May be used as inspiration to create your own, unique, training content. For example, if Zoom is your communication and/or collaboration platform of choice, you could use the Case In Point box from “a) – Step-by-Step Walkthrough of Remote Training”, to produce a series of Zoom-specific hands-on activities or exercises that address all the efficiency and productivity improvement ideas contained in this Guide.
Whichever approach you choose to use the content of this training course, you’ll find the Guide contains extensive recommendations, best practices and use cases to support your unique approach to training your team to work online. Plus, there are links to additional learning resources that you may tap into, remote work tools you can adopt, and ideas you can “borrow” (e.g. “Virtual Ice Breakers”) and personalize to create your unique version of this course.
While all of these challenges are definitely relevant and require organizations to have specific systems and processes in place, there are many ways to ramp up for success. If you want to learn the best tips and strategies for effective remote workforce training, get the How to Train Your Remote Employees eBook on Amazon and turn your online teams into highly productive employees.