Training Remote Employees: Can It Work As Well As In-Person?

Amid the talk of increased remote work post-pandemic and its potential impact on culture, teams, hiring and more, it’s smart for companies to consider how they can effectively elevate the skill sets of their teams. Particularly when those teams could be a lot more dispersed.

As we’ve noted, with a wide variety of factors to pursuing remote work, such as moving to an area with a more attractive cost of living, workers could be a lot farther than an hour or so from the office. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that they could be in a different state or different country entirely. Yet, some will nonetheless argue that there’s nothing quite like physically being in front of a trainer or among peers in a learning environment. Sure, we can all show up at a Zoom workshop. The question is how engaged each of us will be for the session(s) to absorb the material.

With this in mind, how can we still ensure our teams effectively get up to speed on a consistent level when we’re training them for understanding machine learning or engaging in call center training, for example?

For one, the traditional educational model as we know it may need to be dramatically revamped. Several articles have been written that theorize if there are more than 30 students in a classroom – think your typical college lecture hall with 200 students in it as a more extreme example of this – the value of “face-to-face” education is minimal.

Now, you may not have 200 employees in need of simultaneous training. However, you can see where there could be severe limitations to the in-person experience if the number of workers requiring training reaches any kind of substantial number. One could argue that, as far as training is concerned, we should expect to see a significant push to do away with a traditional lecture-style format in which the trainer is in front of a whiteboard presenting to an ultra-large group of individuals.

Keeping Your House’s Foundation 100% Solid

I recently heard a fascinating analogy to training and education that describes the current approach to training. Namely, building upon one’s knowledge can be much like the process of building a house.

See, when you’re going to build a house, you meet with your contractor. After plans have been solidified, the contractor pours concrete over a couple of weeks.

Two weeks later, an inspector is sent to the site and does a walk around and sees that overall, it’s a pretty good job – let’s say 80% good. Then the next phase ensues. Steps are taken over the next three weeks in that phase. That gets inspected. It’s about 70% good.

Hmm. 80% here, 70% there. Wonder what’s going to happen by the time you finish the house?

You guessed it: It’s probably going to fall down.

After all, we can’t keep layering decent-but-not-completely-perfect work on top of the initial foundation, phase after phase. Eventually, it’s going to catch up with us in a disastrous way.

Education works the same way. You study something for two weeks, are given a test, then get a grade of B. So you may not know 20% of the material as well as you should, but you keep going anyway.

Wait a minute. What if you didn’t keep going, though? What if B-level, “good enough” knowledge wasn’t good enough?

Think about it. What if you didn’t proceed with the next phase or lesson until you absolutely knew everything you needed to know? You wouldn’t be OK with 80% and you wouldn’t push forward until you absolutely knew that the foundation was 100% solid. That way, just like building a home with its foundation that needs to be 100% strong, your 100% knowledge would hold up in all conditions and challenges. Nothing flimsy about that.

Dillon Shook for Unsplash


Talman Advantage #8: True Help To Hit The Ground Running

With an offer coming, do you have a solid understanding of what you’ll be doing in the first 6 months? The first year? Having placed a variety of senior people at each client’s firm, Roy Talman & Associates can help you clarify a whole lot about the environment you’re about to join, your role and the true expectations of your new manager.

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The Essential Mindset Shift

Beyond a conversation that debates in-person learning or remote learning, what we probably should focus on instead is the different mindset that values the degree of complete understanding required in students. Rather than just assigning tasks for those individuals to complete in a certain amount of time, wouldn’t we be better served to evaluate how well they completed the work?

That’s not all. We should re-examine the nature of interaction and the degree required in that. Remote or not, the interaction between trainers and individuals should be more frequent instead of merely closer. Perhaps in some instances, the physical distance between the two must be closer for the purposes of discipline and interaction, but not always. If we can feel as though the trainer is highly accessible to us and we can work through our questions for them with uncompromised ease, we may not need to place the highest value on physical proximity to them. Instead, we will have established a higher value where it belongs – building a foundation of knowledge that’s not 70% there or 80% there but 100% strong at every layer of learning.

As the nature of work evolves to become more remote, how can you be sure that you’re bringing aboard a new hire who fits right into your environment and continues to thrive via ongoing training? Talk To Talman First. When Roy Talman & Associates is partnering with you to identify the most highly talented and passionate people to integrate into your team, you’ll have the confidence to know that we’ve also given them preliminary challenges to solve in many cases independently. Based on these results, we’ll have an excellent sense of how they’ll not only perform in the role but how they’ll take to being trained in a remote or in-person environment too.