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5 Issues With Distant Expertise Coaching

September 5, 2020
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A better way to train remote workers

Amy is having a bad afternoon. She tries to reassign a task in Microsoft Planner to someone else on her marketing team, but can't figure out how. If she wasn't working remotely, she would just ask a colleague at the next desk, but most of her team is in a virtual meeting.

Amy's experience happens millions of times a day to remote workers, and countless hours of productivity are lost because they cannot solve minor problems. A global survey of remote workers during the coronavirus pandemic found that remote workers' productivity fell between 20% and 70% due to a lack of technological skills.

The obvious solution is to offer remote workers more technology training. However, a survey published in August [1] found that nearly half of U.S. workers have not received distance training since the pandemic began, and a third of those who found it to be ineffective.

Why is technology training so painful for remote workers?

5 Problems With Remote Technology Training

Remote workers rely almost entirely on IT to get their jobs done, which means they need good tech training too. Unfortunately, most of the instructions will let you down. I often hear from companies struggling with remote technology training. Here are 5 of the most common problems you talk to me about:

1. Too many uses

Did you know that the average business uses 129 software programs [2] and the average user has around 10 apps? The rise of business applications is generally beneficial. However, when it comes to training, there can be a real headache. It is almost impossible for in-house training departments to create guides for all of these applications. Even if it were possible, such training could only provide "high-level" guidance, and not the more specific tips and troubleshooting useful to end users.

2. Technology training takes place out of context

One problem technology training has always faced is that the classroom is out of context. Employees sign up for a webinar where they receive examples of how to use an app. However, they may stop using the app for their daily tasks for several days and therefore forget a lot of what they have learned.

Training is much more effective when it can be put into practice right away, but the webinar approach just doesn't reflect that reality.

3. Remote tech training is too general

Employees often complain that technology training doesn't meet their needs. Of course, teachers cannot be expected to provide personalized instructions to each participant, but due to the nature of technology, personalized learning is often the most effective.

For example, your company may have a training session on how to use Microsoft Planner. Sales, marketing, and operations team members are invited to see some examples of setting up a project. The problem is that each of these teams manages projects in completely different ways, so the training only partially answers their questions.

4. Practice makes perfect

It is known that repetition [3] is critical to learning. Unfortunately, remote technology training doesn't support this. It is almost never enough to show employees how certain tasks are carried out in an app. They have to be shown in context several times before the process really "subsides".

5. Long webinars are inappropriate

For training with specific tools and tasks, many companies choose to have webinar sessions in which an instructor guides employees through the use of an app. This may work for in-person training in your corporate offices, but is less effective for remote teams.

We all know how difficult it is to concentrate while working from home, whether it's with kids running around or interruptions from a delivery person. In many cases, it will be too difficult to focus on a two hour training webinar.

Why we need more contextual micro-learning

There is no doubt that some webinar-based training will be useful for remote workers. However, the above weaknesses suggest that an alternative approach is needed.

Contextual Microlearning is an innovative new approach to technology training that is much more effective than long sessions of general examples. In contextual micro-learning, short, relevant training videos and exemplary guides are created right in an application where the user needs that guide most. Instead of searching online or asking a colleague for help, contextual micro-learning offers the training exactly when you want it.

Let's go back to our example of Amy, the marketer who is having trouble reassigning a task in Microsoft Planner. If your company were to offer contextual micro-learning, your problems would be solved in a matter of moments. She clicks a learning tab right in Planner and receives several training videos and articles related to the specific page she is on. Sure enough, there is a quick start guide that shows how to reassign a task and it can get you moving on with your day.

Contextual micro-learning has so many advantages for Amy:

  • After a few repetitions, she will remember how to do this in the future.
  • This saves her a lot of time and increases the productivity of the company.
  • Amy feels empowered and no longer feels blocked by the technology.

More effective training for remote end users

With more employees working remotely than ever before, organizations need reliable and effective technology training. If not, they face serious productivity problems and high employee dissatisfaction.

And this is where contextual micro-learning can help. Provide microlearning tools that fit easily into your team's workflow. Bring the learning to them instead of expecting them to go to the learning modules. Delivering great content in the context of their environment, the flow of their work, and the moment they need it is the most effective way to ensure your employees have the information they need to get their jobs done.


[1] Nearly half of the people in the US have not taken remote training since March 2020, despite most companies requiring remote working

[2] According to study results, employees are accessing more and more business apps


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