Thought Leader Q&A: Exploring Remote Talent Development And Overcoming Modern L&D Challenges With Christina Gialleli

Transitioning To The Remote Work Model: Christina Gialleli Q&A
Summary: In this eLearning Thought Leader Q&A, we discuss the remote work transition, skill-building success, and breaking down employee engagement barriers.

Diving Into L&D Mindset Shifts And Remote Training Essentials

As the Director of People Operations at Epignosis, the company behind TalentLMS, since 2018, Christina Gialleli built the function from the ground up and fuelled the company's rapid growth from a startup of 35 people to a 190-strong scaleup. She is responsible for all things People, from onboarding to offboarding, and facilitates the company's ambitious team growth plans. Christina has over a decade-long experience in HR functions both in Europe and the United States. Starting off her career in big multinationals in the FMCG and oil and gas industries, she made the transition to the world of tech in 2016. Today she speaks with us about employee engagement roadblocks, tracking your training initiatives, and what L&D teams should consider when making the move to hybrid or remote models.

More and more organizations are transitioning to a remote work model. Why is it so crucial for them to implement a different L&D strategy to develop their remote employees?

Employee Learning and Development has always been an essential element for businesses that want to thrive. In the past few years, we've noticed that changes in the global economy, flexible work schedules, and remote and hybrid work models have affected the way organizations operate and grow. HR departments need to adapt. We need to understand the new needs that have risen and must make sure people remain happy, engaged, and productive. Of course, without compromising on running operations smoothly and cost-efficiently.

For example, employees might work from different locations, so it's rather challenging, if not impossible, to gather them all in the same place for a presentation. Of course, this doesn't mean they shouldn't get any training at all. Or that those who can attend the in-person presentation will have access to training and grow their skills, as opposed to those who weren't able to go to the office.

Remote employees shouldn't be isolated and feel that they're missing out on learning opportunities. With hybrid work environments comes the risk of proximity bias. We need to make sure all employees, no matter their location, have equal opportunities for development and career growth.

But we can't just repeat the same training we used to deliver in person. Zoom fatigue has a great impact on people who are now working mostly or fully remotely. So, we need to shift our L&D strategy and make training sessions interactive and engaging.

All L&D initiatives should be well planned and baked into remote workers' day-to-day. This means offering training strategies catered to the needs of a remote workforce, ensuring seamless communication, implementing asynchronous work and flexibility, providing wellness initiatives, and promoting diversity.

Based on your experience in the industry, what are the most significant online training challenges that organizations face, especially regarding remote talent development?

In the process of training your workforce, especially your remote employees, you can run into a variety of remote training challenges.

One of the first challenges you might face when training people virtually is the cost of online training software, which can be high—especially if you are not quite sure what you're looking for in a tool and want to try different options.

Sometimes, the online course content might not be straightforward, and the lack of the instructor's physical presence might not motivate and engage learners as much as in a traditional setting. Also, certain people can't easily adjust to learning at home—be it because there are many distractions, they don't have a designated work space, or they have difficulty concentrating in the place they mostly use to rest.

In addition, time management can be tough, especially if learning is synchronous and learners are in different time zones. The training session, for instance, might cause conflicts with learners' schedules.

Another challenge is accommodating different learning styles, paces, and needs. eLearning gives us the opportunity to create content in various formats, like text, slides, or videos. And that's great. But we shouldn't forget about people's preferences and abilities. When building our online courses, we need to keep accessibility and inclusion in mind. For example, we might want to add a video to boost engagement. But if we don't include subtitles, we might turn employees off if the video is in a language other than the native or if they have hearing impairments.

One last thing that is quite challenging during online training is the lack of instant communication and direct feedback. Technical issues can be a distraction in remote settings, too.

What are the specific skills that they might be overlooking as their workforce moves to hybrid or remote models?

When moving training from in-person to online, we shouldn't only be thinking of the "how to," but also the "what." If we simply replicate the existing content and deliver the same training, just through a different platform, our training is less likely to hit the mark.

To help our remote workforce thrive, we need to give them the (new) skills they need for this remote-first environment. Employees who work from home often struggle with work-life balance as the lines get blurred. Or they're not sure how to deal with tech hiccups while they're far from the office. Training needs to address these challenges.

So, we need to update our L&D programs with relevant topics, like cybersecurity, written communication, trust, resilience, collaboration, and a bias-free mindset. These skills help people reach their full potential and productivity in the remote work models. For example, cybersecurity is crucial to protect sensitive data, while written communication skills ensure seamless workflow even from a distance.

It's essential for organizations to put effort into upskilling employees and helping them get the skills needed to stay relevant in the remote/hybrid work environment so they can progress in their careers.

Is there a recent development project, product launch, or another initiative our readers should know about?

We all know that soft skills matter in every workplace. But, at the same time, it's hard to train people on them, especially when they work remotely. You may have a seasoned developer on your team who can give a presentation about anti-phishing best practices. But who could teach their colleagues how to practice mindfulness, how to have difficult conversations, or how to boost their assertiveness? There's a gap when it comes to soft skills training, and that's why we built TalentLibrary™, a growing collection of ready-made courses.

This online library contains more than 700 courses, authored by experts, that cover essential skills that teams need for success at work. Each course consists of 2–3-minute long mini-lessons. The format is simple to understand, lowers cognitive load, and is convenient for remote employees, as they can finish a course anytime they want. Every course is created with a story in mind and well-known characters, like superheroes, movie stars, and celebrities, that will be familiar to learners.

The topics of the courses are carefully researched using data and insights from SMEs, and then Instructional Designers make sure that the intended skills and knowledge are transferred properly.

They're particularly helpful for training your remote teams fast and effectively, especially around current matters such as remote leadership and cybersecurity, or mental health awareness and diversity and inclusion. Our teams make sure that new courses are released regularly to address emerging needs in the modern workplace.

Can you share a few tips to help our readers create a successful training program that will engage and motivate remote employees while also making it easy for organizations to navigate and track?

As mentioned before, an engaging and motivating training program comes with challenges. But L&D professionals and Instructional Designers can engage remote learners during training and keep admin smooth by following these tips:

  • Rely on instructor-led sessions. Videoconferencing can tremendously help with remote training, as it connects learners and educators, even if they're not in the same room. You can schedule live training, workshops, and Q&A sessions, record them for future reference, and monitor participant engagement with features like "attention tracking."
  • Build scenarios in your training. With virtual training, you can recreate real-life scenarios, such as customer support sessions with challenging clients or sales calls, by using a prerecorded script. But you shouldn't ignore feedback. By incorporating virtual training tools, like an interactive whiteboard, you can facilitate and encourage group discussions.
  • Adjust your training content. It's necessary that you create online training courses that cater to remote learners' needs. Soft skills and upskilling/reskilling are two areas you shouldn't miss. Your online training courses should provide knowledge on cybersecurity, mental wellness, and communications, for instance. They should also enable employees to develop skills for future job positions in your company.
  • Ensure compatibility. While making sure training content is relevant, it's also necessary that you ensure that training should be accessible from any device. Consider mobile-friendly options and native mobile training apps, for example, when browsing for remote training software.
  • Opt for a user-friendly training environment. L&D professionals and Instructional Designers shouldn't spend all of their time organizing and setting up training. This means creating online courses and assigning or explaining to learners how to complete their training. One of the best practices is to test out platforms via demo or free trials and find one with an easy-to-use interface and navigation.
  • Evaluate your training. To ensure your L&D strategy hits its goals, you should track learner progress and measure training effectiveness. This can be achieved by keeping reports of completion rates, assessment scores, and post-training feedback surveys.

In your opinion, what are the most important training tools or features for successful remote training?

Just like any kind of training, your goals and needs will determine which tools and features are absolutely necessary. However, as a rule of thumb, a good remote training platform needs to have seamless integrations and features like the following:

  • Videoconferencing apps. Your remote training should be accessible, engaging, and inclusive. With videoconferencing apps like Zoom, Teams, or BlueButton integrated into your training platform, you encourage direct communication, boost interaction, and bring employees, leaders, and instructors together.
  • Easy-to-use mobile app. As previously mentioned, in remote settings, it's essential that you invest in mobile-friendly platforms to deliver training. Your employees can connect anytime, anywhere, while they're on the go. In that case, you give admins and learners more flexible options and make training more fun, easy, and effective.
  • Discussion boards. Bring learners together more often by choosing a platform that offers discussion boards. Learners can share knowledge or discuss points relevant to their training whenever needed. Through discussion boards, collaboration is enhanced, and learners benefit from social learning, too.
  • High security. We're talking about cybersecurity more and more. And it's no surprise that, in remote environments, security is more crucial than ever. You need to make sure your organization and learners' sensitive data is protected. Opt for a platform that is ISO-certified and comes with SSO options.

Wrapping Up

A big thanks to Christina Gialleli for taking part in our Q&A and sharing her valuable insights about remote working, cybersecurity, employee engagement, and much more. If you'd like to learn more about how remote training software can help your teams grow from home, discover how TalentLMS fits into your L&D strategy.