Research has found that remote workers are 47% more productive than their in-office counterparts and spend ten fewer minutes daily getting distracted.* This should come as no surprise since remote employees don’t have to deal with as much workplace politics or interruptions, and they have the freedom to set up their environments as they like.
The flexibility remote workers enjoy applies to training as well — virtual materials allow learners to develop their skills in the style and speed that suits them best.
But remote work can be isolating and lonely, so people-centered HR leaders and managers should think about how they can make remote training more engaging, collaborative, and impactful.
That’s why, in this article, we discuss:
- How remote training differs from in-person training
- Key skills to focus on in remote employee training
- 11 training ideas for your remote workforce
*Owl Labs, 2021
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How does remote training work?
Remote training offers employees more flexibility. Workers in remote arrangements can use their laptops, tablets, and smartphones to access instructional materials and learn at their own pace.
But remote learning can also lead to demotivation. If it doesn’t incorporate team collaboration and interactive elements, it may cause team members to feel disconnected from their company culture, colleagues, and leadership team.
And when 58% of individuals already feel somewhat disengaged at work, managers, HR, and people ops specialists should make certain their remote training programs are dynamic and engaging for learners — not just useful and relevant to their roles.
“Online learning differs from in-person learning in several ways. One of the biggest differences is the lack of face-to-face interaction between instructors and students, which can make it more challenging for learners to stay engaged and receive immediate feedback.
On the other hand, online learning provides greater flexibility as students can access course materials and attend virtual classes from anywhere with an internet connection.
Additionally, online learning requires a greater level of self-motivation and self-discipline as learners have to take responsibility for managing their own pace and progress.”
— Jarir Mallah, HR Specialist at Ling App
Key skills to focus on in employee training
Developing your remote workforce can lead to more self-confidence and stronger interpersonal connections among team members. Here are some of the essential skills you should focus on.
Prioritizing soft skills isn’t just about preparing employees to tackle job-related challenges — it’s about investing in them as people and professionals. Meaningful soft skills training can translate into effective team members now and empathetic leaders in the future.
Soft skills are also important to the modern workforce, especially Gen Z and Millennials. In fact, a Workplace Intelligence and Amazon report revealed that 74% of Millenial and Gen Z professionals would leave their jobs in the next year if their organizations failed to support them with the development opportunities they need to advance their careers.
Knowing this, leadership should focus on soft skills training like:
- Emotional intelligence and empathy
- Networking and personal brand enrichment
- Time management
- Research and critical thinking
- Complex decision-making
- Organizational ethics
- Self-care and work-life balance
- Interpersonal communication
Not all roles require in-depth knowledge of coding, analytics, and cybersecurity. But equipping your people with high-level digital literacy skills can prepare them for advanced leadership positions — especially those that require familiarity with the tools IT, security, and development teams rely on.
You’d likely be surprised how many of your team members would be interested in studying computer science or tech and how many training opportunities there are. A recent IBM study revealed 61% of career switchers and job seekers feel they’re not equipped to work in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) because they lack the qualifications, and 60% fear those credentials would be too expensive to acquire. But tech training is now more accessible than ever, and your development initiatives could include courses about:
- Network and software security
- Data encryption
- Working with operating systems like Windows, Linux, and Mac
- Data analysis languages like SQL and Python
- Cloud computing platforms like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure
Employees need role-specific training to become experts in their field and thrive in their roles. But HR professionals and managers may not realize just how high employees rank upskilling and that their company’s options might be lacking. In fact, 57% of professionals feel the need to seek training outside of work, and 22% say it’s because the development opportunities they get in-house aren’t adequate.
Equip team members for success with these role-specific training ideas:
- Self-paced certification programs
- Tuition reimbursement for relevant college or graduate courses
- Cross-departmental job shadowing
- Peer mentorship
- Experiential training, such as simulations and role-playing
- Virtual conferences, seminars, and networking events
Diversity, equity, & inclusion (DEI) skills
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training is essential for creating a psychologically safe work environment for everyone. Why? It can help team members of various backgrounds feel more comfortable sharing their viewpoints and being themselves at work.
DEI training is also key for current and prospective leaders. Making managers and team leads aware of the different kinds of unconscious biases — such as affinity bias or expediency bias — will help them become fairer, more effective coaches and collaborators.
DEI learning initiatives can cover topics like:
- Unconscious bias
- Cultural competency
- Inclusive language
- Anti-discrimination and harassment
⚖️ Equip employees with the knowledge they need to create a fair, equitable workplace
Use Leapsome’s Learning module to design training that focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
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11 ideas for training remote employees
You may already know what skills you want your remote training to focus on, but how will you create development opportunities that team members find useful, engaging, and relevant to their roles? Here are eleven creative ideas.
1. Offer micro-courses
Micro-courses — also called micro-learning — harness the power of visual media in short videos and infographics, as well as interactive content like quizzes, games, and tests, to teach new skills in smaller chunks. And while they may not be appropriate for tackling more complex topics, micro-courses are perfect for remote workers who prefer accessing training on the go because they tend to be more responsive to different devices. That allows employees to squeeze in learning sessions when they’re commuting or exercising, for example.
Micro-courses are also ideal for on-the-job training or onboarding scenarios since they provide flexibility and don’t overwhelm team members with lots of new information at once. Additionally, using a platform like Leapsome to manage micro-learning allows managers to see the progress new hires are making with their learning paths.
2. Allow for self-paced learning
In a self-paced learning model, companies may use a learning management system (LMS) or other software to make their training materials available in one digital space. Doing so means employees can access documents, videos, and courses at their convenience and set training schedules without having to worry about blocking out time on a busy day for webinars or presentations.
As long as you don’t ask team members to sacrifice their personal time, allowing people to learn at their leisure means they can go through the materials at their own pace. They can replay videos, re-read documents, or retake quizzes until they grasp the necessary concepts.
3. Gamify training
It’s not always easy to motivate people to complete training because they may not be immediately interested in the topic and have to contend with their already-full to-do lists. But gamification taps into extrinsic motivation with rewards like points, prizes, or recognition.
And gamifying your remote training program doesn’t mean you have to add another tool to your tech stack. It can be as simple as incorporating:
- A level system — You could reward learners who reach certain training levels or complete several learning paths with prizes or public recognition, especially if they show quick progress.
- A points table — Use a simple spreadsheet to give points for completed training. That way, team members can compare their progress and get inspired by everyone's development efforts.
- Game mechanics — For instance, after delivering training materials in a webinar or presentation-style format, you could play a Jeopardy-style trivia game to reinforce your program’s core concepts.
4. Set goals & OKRs
Setting results-oriented goals and learning objectives is vital to making training impactful for employees. But your people leaders and managers can also leverage objectives and key results (OKRs) to improve or restructure their remote training opportunities.
Using the OKR framework means understanding how to progress toward an objective by achieving three to five specific, measurable key results. For example, a training-related OKR could be:
Build a sustainable L&D strategy to enable professional growth for every employee and increase engagement
Key result 1
Interviewed or surveyed 80% of employees to identify the top three competencies that need to be developed
Key result 2
Launched the ’Growth Academy,‘ including three remote training opportunities addressing the top competencies mentioned in the previously conducted interviews
Key result 3
85% of employees who completed training in the ’Growth Academy’ passed the final assessment and earned a certificate
Key result 4
95% of employees who completed training in the ’Growth Academy’ are confident about applying their new skills to the work context and have a measurable impact on a company goal (according to a one-time survey)
Key result 5
Increased the number of employees believing that there are good career opportunities at our company by 40% since launching the ’Growth Academy’ (according to engagement survey results)
5. Incentivize learning
You shouldn’t make all training mandatory. And yet, you want remote employees to take advantage of the development opportunities you provide. Implementing a career progression framework — also called a development or competency framework — is a powerful way to incentivize both remote and in-person team members to participate.
Progression frameworks outline a company’s positions and responsibilities and provide a roadmap for employee progress. They can also help motivate learners to focus on the skills they need to advance within your organization.
To create one, you need clearly defined role and skill requirements for every level of your company. And once you’ve designed your competency framework, you can incorporate it into your performance reviews and one-to-one meetings with team members.
6. Leverage learning software
Elearning software and LMSs are useful for organizations looking to streamline their training efforts — especially for remote workers. This is reflected in Leapsome’s recent survey showing that 97% of HR leaders and 89% of employees agree on the advantages of digital tools.
They help managers and people ops professionals:
- Distribute training materials to large teams and ensure the quality of the experience is consistent.
- Optimize the setup of future onboarding processes by providing a centralized place to create and store reusable onboarding materials like videos, documents, and quick links.
- Track and analyze employees’ training progress to evaluate how effective their initiatives are and where they need to improve.
A holistic platform like Leapsome integrates learning tools with features for performance reviews, feedback, goal setting, and skills development. That way, managers can tailor training to their employees’ needs and objectives more easily. And as one of G2’s Global Best of Software 2023, Leapsome is proven to help organizations transform their people’s work experience worldwide.
🧭 Give employees tools to chart their own courses
Use Leapsome’s Learning module to design personalized learning paths for your remote team members and track their progress.
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7. Encourage social learning
Unlike traditional, more leadership-driven online courses and development programs, social learning focuses on how colleagues gain and expand on knowledge together. And not only does social learning foster collaboration and camaraderie — it also spurs ingenuity and innovation and allows team members to take more ownership of their development.
Leadership can produce social learning opportunities by creating employee-centered forums or channels where colleagues can openly share thoughts, ideas, and concerns alongside resources like videos, articles, and blog posts.
“Social learning, where individuals come together in a virtual setting to share experiences, learn from one another, and build relationships, is yet another innovative approach that leverages the power of community. This type of learning is especially useful in promoting cultural diversity and creating a more inclusive workplace.”
— Tara Furiani, CEO, Keynote Speaker, Author & Host at Not the HR Lady
8. Make use of employee feedback
Our recent State of People Enablement Report revealed a disconnect between HR and employee perspectives on engagement. 95% of HR leaders said they believed team members were “somewhat engaged,” while 64% of workers reported being “somewhat disengaged.” Staff feedback can help bridge the perception gap and develop the training programs people need. Here’s how you can collect it:
- Employee surveys — A remote work survey aims to gather feedback on how connected team members feel with their work and colleagues and how to support them. If, for example, people don’t feel they have enough time to pursue training and development, it might be time to find ways you can lessen their workload or make courses and programs shorter and more manageable.
- Feedback from performance reviews and 1:1 meetings — Every employee assessment and one-on-one should be an open conversation between managers and their direct reports. As such, team leads should encourage remote workers to be honest about how leadership could improve distance training.
- Exit surveys — In the process of offboarding remote employees, people ops leaders or managers should conduct exit surveys. These surveys allow departing team members to voice their concerns about underlying issues and speak openly about ways to improve training and development opportunities.
✅ If you haven’t conducted a remote employee survey before, there’s no need to draft your own. Download our remote work survey template to use as a starting point. It includes 45 high-impact survey questions that cover various categories.
9. Support peer-to-peer learning
Peer-to-peer learning is ideal for people who want to gain experience with research, leadership, and communication. Similar to social learning, this model can help strengthen your team’s collaborative culture.
However, peer learning tends to be more structured and goal-oriented by incorporating formal processes like meetings, assessments, and mentorship programs — allowing employees to explore and develop their skills for these situations with the support of a colleague.
For example, a peer assessment encourages team members to hone in on giving and receiving feedback in a more relaxed environment than a typical manager-to-employee performance review.
There’s no one way to set up a peer-to-peer framework, but here are some examples:
- Connect new hires with a mentor to guide them through the onboarding process and beyond.
- Appoint a peer-to-peer learning coordinator to facilitate virtual meetings.
- Implement an accountability partnership system to help employees stay on track with their goals and OKRs.
10. Utilize spaced repetition
In his 1885 research into human memory, German psychologist Herman Ebbinghaus discovered something he coined the Forgetting Curve. In simple terms, he realized if we don’t review information soon after we first learn it, the way we remember it will diminish rapidly. And surprisingly, the biggest decline in recollection happens immediately after learning.
Thankfully, Ebbinghaus discovered that the best way to hold on to new information is with a practice called spaced learning or spaced repetition. When using spaced repetition to memorize information, you lengthen the gaps between every review session.
So, after a webinar, for example, you could refresh what you learned:
- One day later
- Two days later
- A week later
- A month later
What does this mean for people setting up training programs for remote and in-house teams? One option is using a software solution like Leapsome to set up automatic reminders for employees to review what they’ve learned. You could also encourage people to schedule review sessions in their calendars.
11. Make learning dynamic
Remote team members want interactive, collaborative training sessions that don’t feel like one-sided lectures. That’s why you should incorporate dynamic learning into your development initiatives.
Dynamic learning aims to:
- Address different learning styles with a blend of teaching methods
- Build skills rather than deliver information
Webinars and presentations that require learner engagement with questions and answers (Q&As) and discussions are a basic example of this. But there’s more to dynamic learning than that. Because it focuses on acquiring skills and not getting high scores, team leads can make training more dynamic by asking employees to:
- Create mini-presentations based on the skills they’re learning
- Develop their own employee surveys
- Organize small work-related events for their peers
- Lead weekly meetings
Develop your remote workers with Leapsome
To train your remote workforce effectively, remember there are people on the other side of your laptop, not just more engagement metrics to track. Remote employees require as much coaching and feedback throughout the learning process as your in-person team.
Leapsome can help you create a supportive and motivating learning experience for remote team members. With our Learning module, HR leaders and managers can use internally or externally sourced content to design custom, multi-media training courses for employees at every level. And once they assign people with learning paths, managers can track their progress, offer valuable feedback, and set up one-to-one meetings to discuss their training.
And unlike an LMS, Leapsome also gives you access to performance reviews, engagement surveys, and competency frameworks, so you can approach employee development from every angle.
🤝 Create a more supportive learning environment
With Leapsome, you can design custom learning paths and use tools for feedback and 1:1 meetings to offer guidance and coaching along the way.
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