Almost no one has been safe from the evolving workplace, especially as it looks to move into an entirely new space: the home!
With this concept becoming more and more normalized, we will notice more of the positive aspects as well as the new challenges that have presented themselves. One of the bigger struggles for those attempting to adapt is training new employees when they aren't at arm's length.
Here we will highlight the ways you can train from a distance, so let's dive in!
For many businesses, the shift from the office to the home has presented some new hurdles to clear before we can return to form. Here are a few of the problems you may already be encountering.
- Everyone is different, and those who learn better in certain ways may not be having an easy time
- No experience with training from a distance
- More potential for distractions: dogs barking, babies crying, etc.
Now we know the issues, let's see if we can lay down a few scenarios and find a solution for them!
Challenges in Training
Everyone is just a little different, and learning is no exception to this rule. Some people learn better by watching, while others prefer to read the instructions, while others even have to learn while doing. These learning styles have been simplified into VARK (Visual, Aural (listening), Read/Write, Kinesthetic). Even in the work-at-home environment, we can still hit these points and ensure your new hires will be pros soon, so it is worth keeping in mind.
As a pre-requisite, we are assuming both parties have a computer with an internet connection. Not a huge assumption, given the current economy, but one that should be pointed out, regardless.
New employee needs to listen to instruction either from a video or directly from the trainer
Even at its most basic form, you can effectively get information over Zoom or Microsoft Teams, but the more people you add into the conversation, the more likely it is you will run into a problem with echoing if everyone starts talking at once.
To combat this, especially in a group setting, headsets will be very helpful. They focus everything so that you are only listening to the things you want to be listening to, cutting out all that extra noise. Noise canceling microphones, such as the ones made by Sennheiser, Poly (Formerly Plantronics), Jabra, and Leitner, will keep the crying babies, lawnmowers, and people talking in the background out of the meeting!
Your new hires can even contribute to the meeting by asking questions, and with a USB headset, they will be heard over the din of the rest of the meeting!
The most common headsets go over-the-head and cover 1 ear, but it may be worth it to look into binaural, or dual-eared, headsets, as they can knock out some of the sounds around the learner, keeping them focused on the task at hand.
You have software your new employee needs to become familiar with
Some people learn by doing, known as kinesthetic learners. They can listen and read instructions, but it really won't click until they get their hands a little dirty.
This style is probably the most difficult one to work with while in the virtual environment, as they haven't yet come up Zoom Touch or anything like that. We are going to have to lean heavily against our favorite conferencing application, just like before.
In addition to being able to be in a meeting and talk to people, applications like Microsoft Teams can be set up so the trainee is sharing their screen with the trainer. This means that whatever the learner is looking at, the teacher will see.
This way you can communicate with them while either showing them how it works, or by letting them click around themselves in a controlled environment. If they start clicking too much, or look like they are wandering into a place they shouldn't be, you can tell them!
If things start to get hairy, the teacher can even remotely control the trainee's computer to physically show them where something is in whatever software you are using. It is a really useful feature!
New employee needs to learn how current employees interact with Customers over the phone
One of our favorite features of some current headsets is the ability to merge calls together. And not just phone calls, but combining a computer call (softphone) with a desk phone call, so that all 3 parties can be on the same call, despite using different means to communicate!
So, in this scenario, we have a trainer and trainee trying to get up to speed in a call center environment. You are far enough along where you want the trainee to either be listening in on live calls or vice versa!
With the call merging ability (known as UniBase in Leitner wireless), you can have a phone call between trainee and Customer, with the trainee listening through Teams.
- Activating UniBase in Leitner Wireless Headsets
- Activating Call Merging in Plantronics Savi Wireless Headsets
To get your new employee up to speed while taking calls, you can have them set up through their desk phone, then use the instructions above to put the headset into UniBase or Call Merging mode. For this scenario, the secondary mode will be computer mode.
Once the trainee is engaged with both modes, have the trainer either call them through Teams, Zoom, or any other web conferencing app you use, or have the new employee call your trainer. When the connection is established, the trainee can answer phone calls, allowing the trainer to listen in and either give advice over teams or just observe how it is going.
You can also switch the roles and have the trainer take calls and the trainee listening in!
If using one of the major softphone providers, such as Teams, you can share whoever's screen is most important so both can see it. And, just like with above, the teacher can take over the other's computer when applicable.
Bringing it all Together
Even with the added trials of current times, there are ways around them. In fact, we may find ways to thrive under the new system. And once we are able to switch back, maybe we will be able to keep some of these methods for the future, because things are always changing!