9 people development tips for remote workers

Regardless of the planned July 19th easing of lockdown restrictions in the UK, it is clear that home working is here to stay.

Many businesses are taking this opportunity to redefine how their teams work. For example, earlier this year Nationwide rolled out their “work anywhere” policy and BP told staff to expect to permanently work from home two days a week.

As Working From Home becomes an indefinite situation for many, this also makes Learning From Home more relevant and more critical. But it needs to be managed properly to get the results you’re aiming for.

Learning From Home takes two main forms:

  1. Trainer-lead remote learning, which happens “live” and can be for one or many participants.
  2. eLearning, which is usually individual learning (though it can be for groups) using pre-prepared modules which are accessible online at any time.

In this article we’ll be looking at the first option, remote learning live with a trainer, and sharing 9 ways you can make sure your team gets the most from it.

1.     Start at the top

If your organisation’s senior management haven’t bought in to the idea of Learning From Home, you immediately have a barrier to success.

Your company culture needs to pivot, to appreciate and respect the value of remote learning.

Otherwise it becomes difficult for trainees to make their learning a priority. They need to feel able to turn down a last minute invitation to another meeting, because it clashes with their training session.

2.     Schedule to suit everyone

It’s important that your team is able to focus fully on the training, and careful scheduling can facilitate this.

Ask attendees whether there are particular days or times when they are often disturbed or distracted. Then plan to avoid these. For example, if you have parents of young children attending the training, you might want to avoid the time when their kids get home from school.

And organisations with learners joining from a number of time zones may need to schedule multiple repeat events to accommodate local times.

3.     Preparation packs for attendees

It’s essential that participants know exactly when the training is happening and what is expected of them. Providing this information well in advance will give them the opportunity to plan, and reduce the risk of distractions during the training.

This should also include any information they need for using the technology through which the training will be delivered.

Because attention spans can be shorter online, your trainer might provide a little more pre-course reading material or activities. This can save a lot of time ‘setting the scene’ and reduce the length of each session. For example, with our online Recruitment Selection Interviewing Workshop, we send the sample proformas and example CVs in advance. This allows participants to read these before the event and it helps the learning activities to be more focused.

4.     Keep participants engaged

How your trainer facilitates the development session can also minimise distractions. For example, breaking up ‘listening’ sections with plenty of activities or discussions will keep people alert and involved.

Poll or survey functions are useful to spark discussions and increase engagement. They are also a great way to obtain participant feedback at the end of the session or programme.

And even consider whether the training should be broken up into smaller chunks and delivered over a number of shorter sessions, rather than one long one.

5.     Encourage discussions/feedback

With face to face people development, there are many opportunities for the trainer to walk around the room and chat to individuals. The participants also chat to each other and can obtain valuable peer insights by doing so. This communication is much more difficult with remote learning, but not impossible.

Technology can be our friend here. Most video conferencing systems have a ‘chat’ function, enabling participants to interact with the trainer and each other. Many also have virtual break out rooms, allowing you to temporarily split the group into small cohorts, which can make conversation (and a bit of light relief) much easier.

6.     Use familiar technology

There is a wealth of technology available to facilitate virtual training. The best one to choose is the one your participants are already familiar with. Otherwise you risk losing the first twenty minutes of your training while people figure out how to log in, find the meeting, get the sound working, etc.

If you do need to use technology which is new to the participants, provide them with information in advance of the training and give them an opportunity to practice logging in.

7.     Set etiquette rules

Your trainer should have clear rules for when they want participants to mute (or not) during the training. This can be really helpful for Learning From Home to eliminate background noises. You don’t want someone’s dog’s frenzied barking in the background when you’re trying to listen to an important point!

We recommend that participants keep their cameras on as it helps build rapport among each other and enable the facilitator to spot visual cues when someone wants to make an input or ask a question. However, we recognise that technical issues and ‘camera fatigue’ might cause variations to this recommendation.

In a similar vein, participants should turn off their email and mute their phones.

The attendees should be told how to ask questions, for example raising their ‘virtual’ hand to get the trainer’s attention (if your software allows this).

8.     Deal with technology issues

At the start of the session, or before it, agree what will happen should one or more participants (or the trainer) have technological issues.

For example, you might ask them to text or email the trainer if they lose connection to the course. Or you might agree that, should the facilitator become disconnected, who they will contact.

9.     Apply the lessons

When people are working and learning from home, it can be more difficult to find opportunities to apply what they have learnt once the training is over.

Home working means that there is less interaction with managers and colleagues. Fewer opportunities for casual chats with fellow participants and the slightly disconnected feeling of being managed remotely, means that learnings can get lost, fade from memory or lose effect.

Therefore, it’s imperative that every trainee leaves the session with a clear “next steps” plan and schedule, which they created for themselves during the training. This should list specific opportunities they will take to apply the learning, whether back in the workplace or while still working from home.

After the session has finished, participants should be encouraged to add this schedule to their work calendar, so they can set up reminder prompts. If the trainee can be encouraged to do so, sharing the plan with their manager can provide another source of reminders and learning support.

Master the art of Learning From Home

We support organisations throughout the UK and beyond to excel at people development, whether virtually, “in the room” or a blend of both.

All our inspirational, bespoke people development programmes are available remotely, or face to face, including our executive coaching, team development and leadership development.

We also specialise in Insights Colours reporting and feedback.

Our belief is that participants should still get as much from our training, however it is delivered. To find out more about how we achieve this, email us at info@changeformation.co.uk.



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