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L&D Strategies To Overcome Remote Workforce Training Hurdles

In this article (part of a series of 4 articles, an eBook, and a webinar), I focus on the impact of COVID-19, notably the need to quickly adopt remote or virtual training amidst tight or limited budgets. Then, I outline 4 pragmatic strategies that L&D teams can use to overcome these challenges and meet their mandate successfully.

eBook Release: COVID-19 Survival Guide For L&D Teams
eBook Release
COVID-19 Survival Guide For L&D Teams
Find out insights and ideas you can use as you realign your learning strategies and online training delivery.

My other 3 articles touch upon:

Recap

In my previous article, 7 Key Areas L&D Teams Should Focus On To Handle Changing Workplace Dynamics, I touched upon the impact of the disruption and what L&D teams can do to establish an agile and flexible digital workplace. For this to succeed, there are several aspects that must be handled by employees and leaders.

In my subsequent article, 8 Best Practices Business Leaders Can Adopt To Lead Through Business Disruption During COVID-19, I outlined that in this crisis, L&D teams can contribute effectively to the business by helping employees and leaders handle the changed dynamics. I also outlined 8 best practices that leaders should adopt to handle the business disruption and ensure that the employees and businesses move forward.

Building up on these two threads, in this article, I highlight the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace as well as on the L&D teams. So, how can the L&D teams field these challenges?

Read on as I share several tips and strategies you can use to deal with this disruption and tight training budgets.

Impact Of COVID-19 On The Workplace: Will It Lead To A Different Workplace?

The COVID-19 outbreak has clearly changed the way employees need to work and, as an extension, how training for remote workers should be offered. In fact, it will lead to a "changed workplace."

With this:

  • Working from home has triggered a pressing need to move face-to-face training sessions to the online mode. In this endeavor, just putting PowerPoint decks or PDF resources will not do. Neither do such resources engage the remote workers nor do they create the impact the organization seeks (recall, retention, or application).
  • There is also an immediate need for measures to sustain employee efficiency and productivity as they work remotely. Only then the deliverables, quality, and schedules are not compromised.
  • There is a crucial need to track CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) and assess what further measures may be warranted to strengthen the remote team’s output.

Impact Of COVID-19 On The L&D Teams: What Challenges Are They Facing And Will They Need To Field In The Near Future?

The L&D teams are likely to face challenges at many levels, including the following:

  • They need to offer training that was not factored in to offset the challenges of WFH, remote team management, effectively using technology to bridge the gap, and so on.
  • In the midst of uncertainty, they need to ensure that employees invest in learning from home.
  • The inability to manage Instructor-Led Training (ILT).
  • The sudden need to convert a large part of the training to online, notably mobile learning.
  • Frozen approved training budgets—including essential trainings and mandatory trainings. Without compelling justifications, these trainings may not move forward.
  • Reduced training budgets.

In the midst of all this, they can play a significant role in helping the remote workers and businesses deal with the disruption and ensure that they are well-equipped to handle these dynamics.

The COVID-19 crisis will cast long shadows. So, the L&D teams should not take short-term measures. Instead:

  • They must work with the business to arrive at sustainable long-term solutions.
  • They must work closely with the business leaders to understand the revised goals and ensure that the corporate training is fully aligned with them.

The focus of L&D teams must not be limited to the quick time delivery of training. Instead, it should be on the quality and effectiveness of the training.

  • They shouldn’t shy away from adopting approaches they haven’t tried in the past (for instance, predominantly ILT to significant mobile training).
  • Converting longer run length training to microlearning nuggets or increasing the focus from courses to a mix of online courses with a large number of learning resources.

It is a tall order, but it can be done.

Here are a few tips and strategies that would help L&D teams achieve their mandate of quickly training remote workers in spite of tight or limited training budgets.

1. Maximize The Training Budget

Opt for options to maximize the available training budget and offer delivery in shorter turn-around time.

  • Leverage on outsourcing [1]
    In particular, look at offshore companies who are more agile, offer a wider range of services at a fraction of the cost, and significantly lower turn-around time.
  • Move training to the virtual or self-paced online mode
    Leverage existing ILT budgets as well as what you have planned for the migration of Flash to HTML5 to convert more courses to the mobile format, particularly, apps for learning.

    • You can move ILT to VILT mode. This must be supported by online resources (pre and post sessions).
    • You can move ILT to a fully online, self-paced mode. This is particularly useful for trainings that cater to a wider audience. However, do validate that the content can be delivered in the self-paced format.
    • You can also move your mandatory compliance trainings to a fully online mode.
    • However, for complex concepts that need an instructor, opt for a blended mode and supplement online training with VILT sessions.
  • Rapid eLearning
    This is a great opportunity to look at options that offer more bang for the buck.

    • There are wide-ranging options to pick from, and nearly all of them offer mobile-friendly or mobile-first delivery.
    • A word of caution though, rapid eLearning cannot address all your training needs. Do look for semi-custom or fully custom options to balance the training budgets and have a no-compromise solution where your training effectiveness or impact is concerned.
  • Personalized training
    You can offer curated content from your internal knowledgebase or from several free courseware sites for different learner groups. You can constitute a panel who can create the curated lists.
  • Localization
    As you go online for a large part of your training, do not miss out to validate which trainings need to be offered in localized versions. Rapid eLearning tools also offer rapid localization. Do evaluate them for such trainings.

2. Adopt An Agile Approach

Adopt an agile and multi-pronged approach to offer a blend of:

  • Courses for formal training
  • Learning resources that support formal training and will help remote workers do their job better, apply their learning, solve a problem, practice for proficiency gain, and so on

3. Review And Adapt Training Delivery

Review the current delivery and adapt/realign it to match the current needs.

  • Formal training
    You should move from face-to-face training to mobile learning or Virtual Instructor-Led Training (VILT) or a blend of both. Additionally, move macrolearning (traditional eLearning) to learning pathways of microlearning nuggets. Training should feature shorter, focused action-oriented learning. This approach of microlearning nuggets can be used to offer more effective personalized training.
  • The higher focus should be on informal learning to support remote workers through:
    • Resources for reinforcement
    • Job aids (Just-In-Time learning aids)
    • Practice zones
    • Challenges
    • Ongoing learning connects
  • Facilitate collaborative or social learning

4. Focus On Long-Term Objectives

Maintain focus on the long-term objectives.

In this journey, a crucial aspect is not to maintain focus on just the training completion rates. Instead, keep an eye on the triad of value to validate if training is offering:

  • Learning and its application on the job
  • Skill-building
  • Reducing the gap

It is vital not to lose sight of the supporting measures to ascertain the following:

  • Training impact
  • Measuring training effectiveness [2]
  • Demonstrable value for remote workers and businesses
  • Positive ROI

How can L&D teams implement these strategies quickly so that the organization can deal with this disruption and move forward?

The implementation aspect is outlined in my next article, 3-Step Action Plan To Implement An Incredibly Effective Corporate Training Program For Virtual Teams. If you want to realign your learning strategies and online training delivery, download my eBook COVID-19: Tips, Strategies, Αnd Αn Action Plan To Handle The Training In The Changed Workplace Dynamics. Also, join the webinar I conducted on the same topic and get to discover additional insights.

References:

[1] 10 Attributes Of A Partner To Outsource Online Training (Custom eLearning Development)

[2] Strategies and Tips for CLOs to Measure and Maximize the Impact of Training and Development Programs

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