Remote Training Technologies: Better training sessions and a bedrock for organizational change

Labor Intensive. Costly. Technology issues. Distractions. Poor content. More distractions. We’ve heard a lot about the challenges of remote learning. But here’s the thing – engaged learners don’t get distracted. And remote learning has far more capacity for engagement than face to face learning. That capacity has ballooned in recent years. Advanced technology can immerse your workers in real-life scenarios. It also allows them to interact with each other, their trainer and even your applications.For some companies, the move to remote work had already started. The pandemic merely accelerated the process. Others, including IBM and Yahoo, brought their workers back to the office after failed remote work experiments. COVID-19 has forced remote work and remote learning on these companies and workers.

Despite ongoing challenges, it has largely worked. Almost three quarters of employers plan to move at least some of their workforce to remote work permanently. Their employees prefer to work remotely and the vast majority say they are as productive or more productive working from home. Workers are ready, and more importantly, the technology is ready. This presents an unprecedented opportunity for L&D professionals.

In this article you will learn how to leverage new technologies to create more engaging and successful training sessions. You’ll also see how you can leverage remote learning to drive strategic change and help your organization embody the future of work.

Level Up Your Remote Training Sessions

A recent study of employers and employees revealed two conflicting statistics. 70% of HR managers say that they have introduced at least one new technology to increase employee capacity in the last year. But, at least one-third of their employees say that they received no training on that new technology. User adoption rates are low even for those who do get training. Learner engagement, user experience and even delivery methods have all contributed to the issue.

The accessibility of remote training sessions could change that. There are logistical challenges including connection speeds, time zones and initial setup. However, companies no longer have to arrange for classrooms, instructors and time off for their employees to attend. Your workers are already there, already wired in. You just have to deliver the training. But merely dropping in-class content into an LMS or placing a talking head on a Zoom training call is not enough. Best practices for L&D still apply. However, remote learning offers an unparalleled opportunity to both deliver and level up those application training sessions.

These opportunities provide learners with real-life, hands-on learning experiences. Guided and directed simulations and other immersive, interactive technologies engage workers and enhance learning. At the same time, improved online conferencing and collaboration tools encourage ongoing communication between trainers and learners.

Choose the Right Technology

Technology is often viewed as a solution rather than the tool to deliver a solution. The recent pushback from some in the L&D community against the LMS is one example. But the LMS isn’t the issue. It’s what’s in it that matters. Populate it with static content, and you get a static learning experience. Add simulations and gamification, and you get an interactive, immersive learning experience that engages and delivers.

Create Interactive Experiences

Interactive learning experiences are those in which workers engage with hands-on, real-life learning. In a classroom that might be accomplished via a case-study and a synchronous or asynchronous discussion. But the new possibilities provided by remote learning allow employees to actively participate via gamification, 360-degree videos, artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented reality (AR).

The military, for example, uses AR to mimic battlefield environments and train combat soldiers. NASA has used AR to train its astronauts to walk on the moon. And, AI-powered virtual assistants serve as 24/7 on-demand coaches for workers

Immerse Your Learners

Immersive learning the learner in an interactive learning environment in a way that feels like a real experience. AR and VR360 degree videos are being leveraged to digitize role-playing and bring workers life-like experiences. Many of these incorporate gamification to further engage workers with competition via leaderboards and prizes.

Application training is increasingly vital to industries ranging from healthcare to airlines. It is now possible to provide your entire workforce with a simulated application environment in which to learn and practice. No more static screenshots. Combine that with presentations from a live remote facilitator and a digital assistant and you have a powerful venue for application training of any kind. It’s an incredible opportunity to level up your training sessions, but it is much more than that.

The Opportunity of Remote Learning 

Remote work is here to stay, which means that remote learning is too. This is an excellent thing for learning and L&D departments. Remote learning offers more than the prospect of improved single learning opportunities. It is a unique opportunity to drive fundamental change within your organization. One that will bring you into step with the workplace of the future and allow you to thrive in the age of remote work.

Create a Learning Journey

Learners are demanding better learning experiences. Company leaders are insisting on demonstrable ROI for their learning investment. The recent shift to remote learning has provided an unparalleled opportunity to deliver both.

The usual L&D agenda will focus on several strategic initiatives that support capability building. That could include new applications, compliance or safety training. Budgets often dictated delivery and were critical to maintaining executive support. Traditional L&D programs, therefore, might consist of a few days of learning with little or no follow-up. Workers quickly forgot what they learned.

A recent McKinsey report noted that L&D functions are replacing traditional standalone learning sessions with learning journeys. These continuous learning opportunities are focused on ongoing capacity building. The key is to keep these continuous learning opportunities tightly aligned with business objectives and focused on supporting capability building.

The existing infrastructure provided by remote learning allows L&D to foster these learning journeys. It also allows for a quick pivot to meet the needs demanded by new technologies or new business objectives. Once an LMS, LXP or simulation is in place, you can push any new learning through it from compliance to upskilling. Companies are even leveraging their remote learning infrastructure to broaden collaboration amongst remote teams.

Here are just a few of the strategic benefits that remote learning offers: 

Increase User Adoption

Fueled by innovations such as hyper-realistic simulations, remote learning improves efficiency and helps you maintain a competitive advantage.

Simulation is what allowed a global airline to successfully push training for new registration software to almost 18,000 employees across multiple continents and time zones. The company netted widespread user adoption in thirty percent less time and, at a significantly reduced cost. It also allowed a global charity to push SAP training simultaneously to thousands of employees in 53 different countries.

Remote learning is easing our access to learners.  At the same time, innovation is accelerating and strengthening the quality of that learning. This is especially true when L&D also leverages competent coaches, opportunities to communicate and other best practices.

Boost Retention and Attraction 

In an OECD study, 25% of surveyed workers said they lacked the skills necessary for their current job. To make matters worse, 35% of the skills necessary for existing jobs are expected to change by the end of 2020. These are the workers who are most likely to leave their jobs.

Remote learning is always on, always available. Whether it’s an online knowledge base, mobile or micro learning or an AI assistant providing answers on the go, remote learning is there. It can ensure workers have access to the knowledge and skills they need to perform their jobs. It also lends them the confidence they need to be successful.

This helps a company build capacity. It also develops a culture of learning and worker confidence that can help you retain existing personnel and attract the best new hires.

Accelerate Reskilling and Upskilling 

Many workforces were sidelined at home during the initial months of the pandemic. Several companies, including Scandinavian Airlines and Virgin Atlantic, offered their workers an opportunity to retrain to help out in the healthcare industry. Others, such as oil giant Dutch Shell, took advantage of the downtime to push company-related training to their workers. For many, it demonstrated the possibilities of remote learning.

When Frontier Communications bought out Verizon, it had to upskill 12,000 new employees and educate another 18,000 on its systems and processes. It was a monumental task that involved 1,362 eLearning courses, 300 simulations, and 412 videos and job aids. The results, however, were phenomenal. Not only were the employees brought up to speed quickly, but they loved the environment – particularly the simulations. The company saved over $18million in training costs and reduced days lost to training by over 60,000. During the process, the company was also synch simulations on the fly to adapt to live system changes. For company executives this translated into a significant ROI on their upskilling investment. They also realized they had a sustainable training solution in place.

Scale Your Learning

This year IBM took its Think 2020 and PartnerWorld conferences online. Participants from around the world took advantage of live-streamed content, interactive sessions and even certification opportunities. Google did the same with its Cloud Next event, which attracted some 30,000 attendees. Both companies leveraged the opportunity to showcase their position as technology and innovation leaders to a broader audience.

The virtual classroom has few, if any, capacity limits. And, if we’ve learned one thing during this period of remote work, it’s that there’s a wealth of tools at our fingertips that allow us to push information remotely. New applications or shifts in strategic direction can be introduced to your entire workforce quickly via your existing LMS. Or instead, you can leverage one of the many collaboration and web conferencing tools. We are no longer limited to a staggered rollout delivered in team meetings by a series of managers or HR staff.

Industrial paint and coating company AksoNobel developed an application which would enable them to reduce errors and production delays and increase the quality of their product. The business goal was to enhance existing relationships and win new market share. The app was a brilliant innovation. However, company L&D had to come up with a cost-efficient way to deliver initial training and ongoing training on frequent app updates to over 100000 employees speaking thirteen different languages. They chose a simulated version of the app, accompanied by videos and remote presentations. The result was a quick, seamless adoption of the new application company-wide and at significantly reduced cost.

Remote learning delivers a consistent message to all teams at the same time, regardless of the size and location of our workforce. Whether you’re scaling learning to a team of twenty or a workforce of thousands, remote learning can deliver. And it can deliver quickly.

Improve Productivity 

In addition to making it easy for you to demonstrate learning ROI, remote learning offers a unique opportunity to boost productivity. Learning no longer has to disrupt the workday or pull people away from their routines to attend daylong “live” sessions. With innovations in mobile and microlearning, we can fit learning into the workflow. Companies were already accomplishing this via tablets in workrooms and mobile learning applications. Still, the shift to remote work has provided us with an unparalleled opportunity to level up these efforts.

With the infrastructure already in place to push remote learning, L&D can hit the ground running. You’ll significantly reduce the lag time between the purchase of a new application designed to increase efficiency and the widespread user adoption necessary for it to have an impact. You’ll also increase productivity.

Remote learning is here to stay. New technologies and approaches enable vastly improved individual training sessions. At the same time, remote learning is also providing L&D with an unparalleled opportunity to affect organizational change and help propel companies to embrace the future of work.

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