Virtual teams are a common find in business. Thanks to the internet, the world is much smaller than it once was when it comes to communication. An employee in America can have a real time conversation with someone in Europe. A potential client in China can receive emails from a salesperson in Argentina. Much can be done without making a phone call, scheduling a flight, or waiting for snail mail.
Distance is a physical barrier while time zones create further complications for training programs. eLearning provides solutions that bridge the gap and overcome the obstacles that different locations create.
Whether you are a company with employees all over the world or just one or two remote employees, the following virtual training tools provide viable solutions.
- Self-Paced Online Courses
Self-paced online courses are good for remote and local employees. The learner starts with the first lesson and works their way through on their own. Companies can add requirements for check-ins with trainers or supervisors or allow employees to work independently from start to finish.
Many LMS platforms include assessments and quizzes that make it easy to track progress. Test learners to ensure that they are retaining knowledge before they move on to the next lesson or course. A trainer doesn’t have to be present, however, they should be accessible in case the learner has questions.
Self-paced courses give virtual teams a way to maintain consistent training quality without sending trainers on expensive business trips. Everyone has access to the same information and material and can work whenever it is best for them. Time zones are no longer a problem when learners can log in anytime, 24 hours a day, without coordinating with a trainer.
Online learning also gives trainees the ability to participate at home. According to a Gallup study, 43% of employees worked remotely at least sometimes in 2016. That was up 4% from 2012.
- Webinars and Virtual Classrooms
Virtual teams should have access to as many of the same experiences as local employees. One way to achieve that goal is to offer webinars or virtual classrooms. You can supply real-time training remotely, with an active trainer and class participation.
Some learners perform better with more guidance. For others, having a trainer available to answer questions helps them feel confident and focused.
Many LMS platforms offer webinar functionality or connect with third party apps that provide the same service. These usually include a live video of a trainer giving demonstrations or lectures while a class participates in chat. Some may also provide a voice chat function while others have basic commands like raising a hand to ask a question.
Trainers can get more value out of their time in front of the camera by recording the session. This can be delivered later for trainees who may have missed the class or packaged as part of a self-paced course. Video can also be uploaded to the internet and provided as supplemental material.
- LMS with Mobile Learning
Smartphones have rapidly grown in popularity around the world. According to a 2018 Mobile Economy report, planet Earth has surpassed the five billion mobile user mark. That number is expected to climb, possibly reaching 5.9 billion in 2025.
Chances are if you work with a global team, then they most likely already own smartphones. The technology is familiar to most adults today and has advanced tremendously to offer expanded functionality. One of those developments includes mobile learning.
When searching for an LMS, make sure yours offers mobile connectivity. This could be in the form of a responsive design that can be used on any screen size or as a standalone Android or Apple app.
The more your trainees and trainers can do on mobile, the better. Mobile access allows workers to access training material from almost anywhere. They can be at home, traveling, or out of town and still log in to participate in discussions, complete coursework, or manage classes.
- Support for Multiple Languages
Language can serve as another barrier when training global teams. If you operate across borders, make sure you can provide content that’s localized.
Some LMSs provide multi-lingual support. These deliver content in the trainee’s native language, making it much easier to interact and learn. This is also helpful when engaging clients or contractors from different countries.
Check the platform you plan to use and make sure it offers the languages you need. There is no standard for this in the eLearning industry. Some systems give users the option of many languages, some have only a few, and others may only include English. It is also helpful to talk to a representative or customer service to request a language list in case your team expands to new regions in the future.
- Forums, Group Chats and Feedback
Communication can make or break a team. Your trainees and trainers need to have clear lines of communication. Your virtual training toolbox must include ways for employees to interact.
The most common apps include chats and forums. The chat allows individuals to discuss training in real time. It’s a fluid option that allows for natural discussion without taking up time with a phone call. Unlike a phone call or meeting, if someone needs to step away for a moment, they can take care of tasks and return to read and respond when they are ready.
Forums make it easier to have conversations with a focus. Threads for specific issues, questions, or subjects can be created. Discussions are contained within each thread and can be referenced later.
Some LMS products include a feedback system as well. This is usually intended to provide quick recommendations or reviews on classes or performance. A trainee can let a trainer know if they felt a course could use improvement. A trainer can respond to trainees with insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
- Cloud Storage and File Repositories
Cloud storage and file repositories will give all trainees access to the documents and files they need, no matter where they live. These can be made available online. You can use a third-party cloud storage solution, like Dropbox or Google Drive. Some LMSs connect to these services so you don’t have to upload to multiple places.
Other LMSs may offer a built-in file repository. This tool creates a centralized place for your training documents and media. Many include ways to bring in content from other parts of the internet, like videos from YouTube or images from a website.
Virtual teams can access files from anywhere. They don’t have to interrupt coworkers or wait for email responses when they need a class document.
- Back-End Team Management
Trainers and administrators have to invest time into back-end tasks. This includes things like enrollment, permissions, progress, and certifications.
Most LMS platforms provide ways to manage these activities with a click or two. Some even include automation so trainers and staff don’t have to waste time in their day to do basic tasks. Let learners enroll themselves or request approval to join a class. Trainers can also compile data on progress to identify trainees who are doing well or need assistance.
Even if the training class is made up of people who live hundreds of miles apart, their efforts can be monitored through a centralized team management system.
eLearning is effective and costs less than traditional training methods. IBM saved $200 million after switching to an eLearning model. That amounts to 2/3rds of the company’s previous training budget.
Dow Chemical also saw huge savings. The company reduced its training costs from $95 to $11 per learner with online training. Cisco reported a reduction of 40% to 60% in training costs thanks to eLearning.
Find out how you can manage your global team more effectively with the right technology. Check out LMS.org to read LMS reviews and find better ways to train remote employees.