Written by Professional Academy Guest Blogger, Daisy Sawyer
How have you found the shift to working remotely? It’s now been well over half a year since the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic saw the effective and indefinite suspension of typical office life, and most enduring companies have long since accepted the need to have their employees work from home - but that certainly doesn’t mean they’ve made the most of it.
In many cases, some key parts of normal operation have fallen by the wayside. Training may be the biggest example. Successful companies have always invested heavily in training their workers, knowing that it’s an essential component of achieving growth, but they haven’t necessarily carried this investment over to the remote working model.
When you’re working remotely, you’re disconnected from your colleagues (and any managerial staff) in a profound way, and it’s harder to make progress. And when you’re in charge of training a remote team, you have a tough task ahead of you. In this post, we’re going to look at some useful tips that can help you renew your investment in training and make it work remotely.
That loss of team connection doesn’t just affect someone’s ability to communicate usefully. It also affects their mood in general, and specifically how they feel about being part of the company. There’s no shortage of valued and productive professionals who are deeply insecure about what they bring to the table. Even as they flourish, they feel like imposters (Verywell Mind has a strong piece on imposter syndrome, so check it out).
Such people need to be reassured and appreciated. They need to be reminded of why they’re so valuable and told that they have vital roles to play in future developments. Giving them attention in this way will have two key benefits: it’ll bolster their mental health, helping their productivity and company loyalty, and - most importantly here - motivate them to surpass your expectations and become even stronger employees.
That motivation is absolutely essential. Training at a distance lacks meaningful pressure: you can’t look over someone’s shoulder while they learn, intimidate them with a trip to your office, or easily prompt them to get competitive. The drive to improve must come from within. Accordingly, you mustn’t try to cajole them with references to the ROI you require (though that’s something you certainly need to track) — instead, concentrate on what they want to achieve.
The creation of training resources isn’t strictly required (you can simply draw upon existing resources, of course), but it’s strongly advisable. Why? There are various reasons. Firstly, you can shape them however you like, ensuring that they succinctly cover the areas you find most relevant. It’s frustrating to put time towards training courses with a lot of waffle involved.
Secondly, you can make them fit your needs. Training isn’t always about the cultivation of existing skills: very often (particularly these days) it’s about getting new hires up to speed with everything they’ll need to be doing. Furthermore, they won’t just need to acquire new skills and improve their knowledge — they’ll also need to become familiar with your brand identity, and demonstrating this through your creative effort will save some time.
Thirdly, though not least significantly, you can actually make money from your training materials. Resource marketplaces like Learning Revolution make it possible for anyone with valuable training materials to start selling them, and there are two key reasons for the average business to consider doing so. The first is the acquisition of extra money (straightforward enough). The second is the prospect of showcasing expertise: when a business makes training resources accessible, it demonstrates to the world that it knows what it’s doing (and can be relied upon).
Every member of a team will have unique strengths and weaknesses, both personally and professionally, but they aren’t always easy to spot. Someone can be an effective employee without ever showing what they’re best at or revealing their main areas of ignorance — and this can essentially hold them back from being even more effective.
Thankfully, there isn’t always a need for expert advice from a third-party individual or service, because there’s a solid chance that one employee’s weakness is a strength of one or more of their colleagues. Taking advantage of this comes down to encouraging collaborative projects (and using the right tools to facilitate them). How can workers with distinct skill sets be brought together for mutual benefit?
Come up with projects that require members of your team to combine their distinct abilities in united fronts, and explicitly task them with understanding one another better. The more closely they communicate and work together, the more they’ll learn from one another, and you’ll find when those projects conclude that those involved have filled some key gaps in their knowledge.