Managing remote teams can be a bit of a challenge. It’s hard enough to keep everyone on task when a dog is barking in the background and three people on your conference call are in their cars. Now you have to train them?!
Well, yes, you do have to train them. In fact, good employee training may be the most important element in effectively managing virtual teams. Great corporate training adds consistency across long distances, and it can even create powerful bonds among your virtual team. Unfortunately, training remotely has some of the same difficulties as other virtual work — it’s hard to monitor compliance and even harder to keep workers focused and on task.
But, warts and all, remote teams are here to stay, and we have to learn not only to work with them, but to excel with them. Here are five tips that can help with those remote training woes.
#1: Provide a Central Training Source
Having people scattered across the country (or world) doesn’t mean your training materials should be scattered as well. Here’s a mantra: Everyone, everywhere should know where to find everything. A consistent, well-indexed, and accessible library is a must for remote groups. And when you use instructor-led or one-time training, always develop standalone backup materials (manuals, tutorials, etc.) as part of your library.
Adventure on to this travel-focused project spotlight to see a central learning hub in action!
#2: Track Their Training Progress
You’ll be sending out the training. They’ll be doing the work (or will they?). Both you and the trainees need to be able to see what training they’ve completed and what they still need to do. It sounds a little “Big Brother,” but remote workforces need to know someone is keeping track. Be sure to use a tracking tool that is transparent and easy to manage.
#3: Encourage Socialization
Your entire company will love you for this one! You can help remote teams connect with one another throughout their training. These connections go beyond the specific training and will influence their work and interactions in the future. Encourage or even mandate collaboration for some of your training — just make sure it’s not always the same groups ending up together.
Working remotely can be lonely! Help them connect and you’ll have a happier bunch.
#4: Add Gamification
You can add to the social element of training by incorporating gamification into your courses. There’s nothing like friendly competition to motivate and connect people, even across great distances. Be sure to offer meaningful rewards that will inspire a sense of fun.
#5: Add a Personal Touch — When You Can
It’s easy to rely on online courses for remote training, but workers still need that human connection. Conducting webinars and video-based instructor-led training will put a face and a voice to your training. Try to work something a little more “human” in at least once a quarter to help with that connection. And, if budget allows, go visit some of your training charges or have them come visit the home office. They’ll love it, and you’ll have a great opportunity to build more rapport.
Being Remote Doesn’t Mean You Have to “Be Remote”
When working with virtual teams, it’s important to remember that remote work can feel isolating. Training is an opportunity to reach out to distant lands and make everyone feel like a part of the family. Who says training has to be “just training”? You can build your organization, improve communication, and educate your workforce at the same time. So have fun — wherever you are!
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