So your office is preparing to increase remote working because of Coronavirus. Great for preventing the spread of COVID-19—not so great for keeping your onboarding and training schedules on track. How can you make sure you achieve your organization’s learning and development goals when your employees are suddenly working remotely?
Assess: How Are Your Employees Getting Their Training Materials Today?
The first step in your Coronavirus planning (or any other move to a remote environment) is to evaluate exactly how your employees are learning today. This will help you figure out what you’re going to need to shift, expand, or change.
How do you currently handle:
- Onboarding. In-person or virtual? One-on-one or groups? Informal or multi-day courses?
- Compliance/governance training. Pre-bought videos? In-person classes?
- Retraining or upskilling. Classes? Videos you’ve made yourself? Hands-on instruction with veteran employees?
- Managerial training. Gather new managers together for large conferences? Small groups? Individual on-demand training?
- Job-specific skills training. Do employees teach new employees in their department? Do you have a standard curriculum?
- Just-in-time training. What do employees do when they need to learn a new skill right now?
Plan: Creating a Consistent Virtual Learning Environment
Now that you know what you’re currently doing, it’s time to figure out how to replace your in-person activities. Let’s go through the different methods employees have for learning.
This one’s relatively easy; you already have the materials. Key things to check:
- Can your employees access videos from outside the office? If they can only watch the videos while on the company network, it defeats the point.
- Do the videos play well on multiple devices and at different bandwidth availabilities?
- If you make the videos available from home, do you have the proper security protocols to keep internal information safe?
Large-Scale Group Training
- Webcasting is an ideal substitute for large-scale in-person events. You can broadcast both the video of the speaker and the slides as a combined feed. You can still take Q&A.
- There are a bunch of upsides as well.
- Polls are easier to handle online than in person.
- There’s no such thing as a bad seat.
- You automatically have a recording afterwards, which allows you to not only reach employees who might have otherwise missed the event, it lets you continue to use the content for months or years.
- You have a lower carbon footprint than flying in lots of people. We know, it’s not the top priority right at this moment, but it’s a nice bonus! Feel virtuous!
Small-Scale Group Training
For learning activities that are typically conducted in a smaller group setting like a classroom or a meeting of a few people, an online video meeting solution/virtual classroom is your best bet.
- You still get the video of the speaker and slides. You also get shared screens, videos, whiteboards, annotations, shared notes, and other collaboration features.
- The big advantage to this over webcasting is the same advantage of small classes versus the big lecture hall: participants see each others’ faces and interact with each other and the instructor on a personal level. It’s easy to talk, ask questions via the chat, even separate out into breakout rooms and come back for larger group discussions.
- Again, you get the advantages of video: recordings to use or refer back to in the future, and no need to gather people from far-flung locations.
- If you go this route, make sure your employees have access to video-capable devices. Fortunately, most phones and laptops these days should handle these requirements.
Sometimes the best way to learn something is to ask a colleague. That’s a little harder when you can’t pop over the cubicle wall. Virtual meeting solutions or video plugins to your social business tools (such as Microsoft Teams) make this easier for remote employees.
- Make sure video capabilities are enabled. Make it easy for your employees to see each other , even when working remotely, and try to keep up normal relationships.
- When employees have to routinely share the same information with other employees, encourage them to capture themselves doing the spiel. Make it available on the intranet, and make sure to give it enough metadata to be easily searchable. Now that employee valuable time can be saved—new employees watch the video and then contact them with any specific questions.
- To make this effective, you’ll need to make sure your employees have both basic capture hardware (nothing fancy, phones/laptop cams are fine) and software, as well as some place centralized to upload their videos. It could be your existing intranet or a company video portal. Public-facing sites like YouTube or Vimeo are probably not the best idea, though.
That’s a lot of different use cases and videos. In the short run, you’re going to cobble together whatever you can. But if you want this to be sustainable, trying to get as much of this onto a single platform will make your (and your employees’) lives much easier.
Deploy: Getting Your L&D Materials to Remote Employees
As the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation continues to extend, you’re going to want to start making some more formal plans.
- Make sure your employees all have devices capable of watching and creating video from home.
- Let your employees know what the plan is as soon as you’ve got one; even letting them know you’re working on something can help ease anxiety.
- Give your employees direction as to where, when, and how it’s appropriate to create and share video. Make sure they understand security concerns.
- Relax the formality a little. Professionalism is important; however, everyone understands that this is an unusual situation. Everything doesn’t have to be launched at once; concentrate on the most important and work your way through. It’s more important that your training materials are available than they be perfectly polished.
Ready to go virtual?