Shauna Chernicoff on how to bridge the gap between face-to-face and virtual training
As the way we work and learn continues to evolve, effectively training both in-person and remote employees will be essential to thriving in a competitive business environment.
Some 73% of US businesses and 65% of European businesses are adopting an ongoing hybrid work model, yet 58% of companies globally are concerned that they aren’t aligned with employees on hybrid work expectations. In this evolving work environment, how can L&D leaders support a distributed workforce and bridge the experience gap between in-person and remote employees?
Not only is ensuring a consistent training experience for all staff critical to fostering an equitable working environment, many employees have come to expect the flexibility to work and learn on their own terms as a requirement for their careers.
How can you bridge the experience gap between distributed workers to deliver consistent, engaging, and effective training across your organisation?
1. Understand your audience
Distributed teams communicate and collaborate in different ways. In order to develop training that supports all employees, conduct a survey to identify their unique needs.
● Location: What time zones are your teams located in? Do they frequently work on-site or in the field?
● Technology: What hardware and devices do employees use? How reliable is their Internet connectivity?
● Learning preferences: How do your employees currently participate in training? Are they visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners?
● Universal accommodation: What accessibility features does your team require, such as sign language, captioning, translation, or slower playback?
Consider partnering with your people experience or HR teams to encourage honest feedback in the survey. Understanding how your employees work and learn is the foundation of a strong training programme.
Making sure employees have everything they need to be successful goes a long way in improving engagement and learning outcomes
2. Identify what training modality works best
Now that you understand your employees’ learning needs, it’s time to evaluate the training modalities at your disposal.
Before you begin, audit your past and existing training. Which training had the highest engagement? Which had the best learning outcomes? What aspects of the delivery made it successful? What aspects needed improvement?
Different modalities suit different types of training. You’ll want to align each training objective to the approach that delivers the best results.
● Remote and synchronous: All attendees participate remotely in real time, typically over video conferencing. This model works well for training that requires high engagement and where teams are small enough to ensure schedule alignment.
● Remote and asynchronous: All training content is pre-prepared and learners access it on-demand. This model is very effective for detailed technical training that viewers will have to revisit on the job or company-wide compliance training that requires consistency. It also allows teams distributed across time zones to participate at their convenience.
● Hybrid: Hybrid training offers both pre-prepared, on-demand content as well as a live training component available to both in-person and remote attendees. It’s the most complicated to implement but also the most inclusive.
● Blended: While often used interchangeably with hybrid training, blended training does not cater to remote employees. With a blended approach, learners complete some components of the training online and some components in-person, and all learners participate in both online and in-person sections.
3. Use the right tools
While your training modality and budget will influence the best tools for your needs, there are four key components to help standardise training across all employees.
● Mics and audio capture: Audio is just as – if not more – important than video when it comes to remote training, as audio glitches create confusion and frustration. Ensure that you have high-quality mics to capture training audio, whether it’s taking place in a traditional classroom environment or in the field.
● Whiteboard capture: Written explanations and diagrams are a crucial part of training but frequently an afterthought when it comes to replicating experiences for a distributed audience. Use tools like a digital whiteboard or capture a traditional board with video so that this content is available to all employees, whether they’re participating in-person or remotely, and live or on-demand.
● Multi-source video capture: For hands-on training such as those in a clinical or manufacturing context, multi-source video is an essential tool to capture different angles or simultaneously watch both the instructor’s lecture and their demonstration.
● Video content management system: You’ve worked hard to develop robust training that caters to your hybrid workforce – but where are you storing it? A video content management system automatically secures your valuable training in a searchable learning library that all your employees can access anytime, anywhere, and on any device.
4. Set expectations and communicate
Your employees are likely new to the tools, processes, and modalities of your new training approach. It’s never easy to adopt new behaviours – increase employee confidence and reduce barriers to engagement by setting training expectations early and often.
● Introduce the value of your new training approach. Get employee buy-in by recording a short explanatory video on why you are evolving the organisation’s training approach and how it will benefit the team and company. Better yet, get your leadership involved in communicating its strategic value.
● Create a central hub for training support. Document the location of the training, what equipment employees must use, session structures, and how to join the training and navigate engagement features. This can live in your video content management system or a shared drive.
● Get ahead of troubleshooting. Don’t assume your employees are familiar with the technology you’re using. Prepare solutions to common technical issues and a clear process for who to contact if they run into problems during a session.
● Train your trainers. Hybrid training can be new to your trainers, as well. Set expectations with those conducting training, role play sessions together, and ensure that there is both a moderator and tech support staff on hand during each session to field audience questions and manage any IT issues. The more confident your trainers, the more engaging and effective the training.
While preparing training best practices requires an up-front investment of time, you will be able to draw from – and improve on – these materials as you get more comfortable with your new training approach. Making sure employees have everything they need to be successful goes a long way in improving engagement and learning outcomes. Don’t be afraid to experiment and iterate. The way we work and learn is dynamic, and your training should be too.
Are you ready for hybrid training? Download The Essential Hybrid Training Playbook to get started.
Shauna Chernicoff is VP of employee experience at Panopto.