How to offer tech support to remote workers

With more people working remotely than ever, providing training for all the digital tools they rely on is essential. But there’s a problem: remote tech training doesn’t work.

One study found that nearly half of American workers received no remote training during 2020’s lockdowns. Furthermore, among staff that did receive training, a third found it ineffective.

If your teams do not receive help with the tech that they use each day, they will not be so proficient using it. And that means they will be less productive.

What can be done about this?

Training is not the solution!

As an HR, L&D or IT manager, your first instinct might be to provide your remote workers with technology training. This might include things like:

  • Webinars about how to use Teams
  • Lengthy video introductions to Office 365
  • Written guides to permissions in SharePoint online

But before you invest the time and effort required to produce all this content, stop for a minute! Technology training often disappoints – and could even be counterproductive. Let’s see why.

5 reasons to NOT provide remote tech training

Here are some key reasons you should avoid the temptation to ‘train’ staff:

  1. Simply too many apps to train people effectively

Your average remote worker will be using upwards of 10 apps every day – from their email inbox, to SharePoint, to Teams, to a chat tool, to role specific software, file storage, spreadsheets…and many more!

It is simply not possible for your internal training team to produce useful content for all these tools and it would take too much time out of your employees’ days to attend all those training sessions.

  1. Soon forgotten

Remote tech training often feels abstract and irrelevant to most employees. Staff attend webinar where they are given examples of how to use a tool. This is fine, but it’s soon forgotten. Unless they immediately put what they’ve learned into practice, most will simply forget it.

  1. Not relevant

It simply would not be possible to provide personalized training for every learner. However, the problem is that most people’s needs with enterprise technology are very specific to them and their roles. Some staff barely ever need to use a shared document environment. Others use this kind of tool continually. Generic training that touches on the essentials of OneDrive, for instance, would leave both these groups frustrated!

  1. Doesn’t match how we learn

The best learning happens ‘on the job’. We are most likely to remember how to complete tasks that we’ve learned while doing them. Unfortunately, remote tech training does not reflect this reality. People are simply expected to watch a screen and absorb information. But if they don’t immediately put the learning into practice, it just gets wasted.

  1. Difficult to stay focused when learning remotely

How many times have you experienced Zoom or Teams fatigue over the past year? We’d guess quite a bit!

The fact is, if your technology training requires people to spend half a day watching a webinar, you can almost guarantee that a significant proportion will just zone out. Unlike a physical classroom experience where attendees can interact, and where the instructor can gauge interest by watching body language, remote training is far more draining and difficult to do.

So, should we just give up trying to train remote workers? Not at all!

Why contextual microlearning is more effective

Contextual microlearning addresses all the issues described above and more. It involves the creation of short, relevant training videos and walkthrough guides right within an application – at the point that the user needs that guidance the most.

Whether they’re struggling with SharePoint permissions, creating a channel in Teams or learning to use Excel Online, contextual microlearning systems provide short, bite-sized training that tells people exactly what they want to know when they need to know it.  

Contextual microlearning helps remote workers by:

  • Only training them in things they need to know
  • Does not overwhelm them with information
  • Encourages active learning ‘by doing’
  • Is short and easy to consume
  • Means they keep learning without having to attend a physical office

Stop training remote workers!

It is perfectly natural for businesses to want to ensure their remote workers continue to receive support and guidance. And this is especially the case with technology – many of them are using business tools more often, and for longer, than ever before.

But choosing to train them is a waste of time for users and the business. So, instead of training them with long and irrelevant webinars, try to provide bitesize training so they can learn when they need to, in the flow of work.

Contextual microlearning systems do just that. To learn more about them, check out our blog.

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