Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced an even more widespread change in thinking, increasing numbers of businesses around the globe had remote employees as part of their team.
In a globalised world – where an international workforce remains the reality for businesses large and small – it is already widely recognised that remote employees can provide increased levels of convenience and productivity.
But they also present a particular challenge. Because not only do business leaders need to implement effective global training for their teams. Now they need to combine it with viable remote training strategies too.
Luckily, there is a solution to this combined challenge – one that companies of all sizes and in every industry have started to make use of.
That solution is multilingual eLearning. When you need to provide training that will result in a cohesive and efficient team and strong company culture as well as allow you to keep an eye on training costs, eLearning is the way to do it.
Remote work – training and productivity
What percentage of employees work remotely?
Even before the novel coronavirus lockdown made many businesses re-evaluate whether having employees working from home might be an option for them, levels of remote working were already on the rise.
To take the US as an example, as far back as 2017:
- 5.2% of the entire workforce worked remotely
- 63% of organisations had at least some remote employees
- Only 9% of managers were convinced that their team had to be physically at work in order to do their jobs
There aren’t yet any confirmed figures for the percentages of people in any part of the world who have changed to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we do know that this figure is likely to be high.
We also don’t know for sure how this figure will change in the future. But with so many companies realising that remote working is actually not only convenient but productivity-enhancing too, it’s also likely that this is a figure which is only going to go up.
Are remote workers more productive?
There is currently a wave of re-evaluation going on at the managerial level of businesses around the world as regards the possibilities of home working. This has largely been caused by recognition of something many remote workers have known all along:
Working from home can lead to greater productivity than working in an office. In fact, 78% of remote workers say that their productivity levels are higher than they ever were in a physical office.
They’re not making this up either. Examining more than four thousand studies of employees working from home, it has been found that remote employees are not only more productive. They’re also:
- More satisfied in their work
- Less likely to take sick days
- Less likely to waste time in meetings
- More cost-effective for the company
How can I train my employees remotely?
This all means that remote work training has suddenly become something that companies around the world are looking into. The need for that training itself to be delivered remotely seems like it might add an additional level of complication.
Luckily, the training method which smart companies in every industry around the world are increasingly using to train new employees – namely, eLearning – is highly suitable for training employees to work remotely.
What is global training?
Global training means adopting training practices which accommodate the needs of a workforce which might include groups from a wide array of different cultures and demographics.
It’s something which used to be purely the province of the largest international corporations. But these days, much smaller businesses are finding that they need global training for their teams.
For many business leaders, growing acknowledgement that training needs to be truly global in order to encourage participation and engagement and create a cohesive, efficient team is the driving force behind the adoption of eLearning solutions.
The risks of not properly training your global employees
An infamous Forbes magazine poll found that an astonishing 65% of professionals surveyed thought there was a language barrier between executive and managerial level employees and everyone else.
That’s a pretty shocking statistic. But when the problem is, with modern techniques like multilingual eLearning, an inherently solvable one, it’s all the more egregious.
As a global company, if you don’t provide the tools your team needs to overcome any potential language or cultural barriers, you risk failing to take advantage of the many benefits of having a global workforce in all kinds of ways:
1) The risk of misinterpretation
Even relatively simple instructions can be open to misinterpretation when viewed through the lens of someone raised in a different culture and speaking another language.
Providing remote training materials which are specifically designed for people from different cultural and language backgrounds is vital if you want your entire team to achieve the same goals from your training.
2) The risk of inefficiency
If an employee doesn’t fully understand what’s expected of them, they are going to struggle to operate at full effectiveness. They also won’t be able to gauge how well they’re performing.
Specifically targeted multilingual training ensures every member of your team understands their role and how to be efficient and effective at it. Even when that training is delivered remotely.
3) The risk of lack of engagement
It’s a fact that everyone learns better in their native language. Understanding is maximised. Knowledge retention is greater. Engagement levels are higher.
Make sure that your international team members can focus on the actual training you are providing rather than mentally interpreting what is being said.
Best practices for training global remote employees
For all of these reasons, many companies are currently grappling with the job of how to train new employees remotely.
If this is something you’re currently working on, there are a number of things that all effective remote training strategies have in common if they’re going to be effective for a global workforce:
1) Set clear expectations and objectives
There are some questions which you definitely do not want your audience to be asking when they are following your training course. These questions include things like:
- Why am I doing this?
- How am I supposed to do this?
- What am I going to get – or supposed to be getting – out of it?
By setting clear expectations and goals for your course from the start, you overcome the obstacle that any training course – but especially ones delivered remotely and for audiences with different cultural and linguistic backgrounds – can come up against.
Remember that your remote workers won’t always have other members of your team sitting beside them to ask. Make sure they know what they’re supposed to be doing and why it’s of benefit to them.
2) Design for your audience
Knowing your audience is multilingual eLearning solution design 101. You need to know:
- The languages your audience speaks
- The cultures they hail from – in-depth, native-level understanding of this is vital
- Their level of access to technology and specific tool or platform preferences
- Their entrance knowledge level. Will you need to begin by defining key industry terms?
If you want to maximise the cost-effectiveness of your training materials, it’s also worth working out where:
- Sections of training need to be delivered across the board
- Certain skills or sections might not apply to team members in certain regions
- Local laws require additional training or significant alterations to training segments
3) Localise for culture as well as language
Providing global remote work training means understanding the cultures your team members come from as well as the language they speak.
For example, providing a “Spanish translation” of your course is all well and good. More than 483 million people speak Spanish as their native language, so – in theory – you’re dramatically enhancing your potential talent pool for new hires.
But those millions of Spanish-speaking people are spread over more than 30 different countries. Some of those countries are literally on the opposite side of the world from each other. They have wildly different cultures, histories, points of reference, dialects and more.
Make sure you really know your audience before you start designing for them.
4) Aim to be global from the start
While it is possible to create different local versions of existing training materials, you will find things much easier if you design your remote training materials to be multilingual right from the start.
This allows you to handle common design problems like the expansion or contraction which text undergoes when being translated into new languages. Or when your design needs to be flipped for right-to-left languages such as Arabic.
But the main advantage of starting from a clean slate is that you can properly build in all of the steps listed here – plus the advice and expertise of whoever you choose to localise your multilingual eLearning courses – to create a series of language or regional versions which make up one cohesive, highly effective whole.
5) Get Quality Assurance from a native speaker
Only a native of each of your target regions can confirm that your course transmits the right message to someone learning from it. This is necessary if you want every member of your audience to be able to achieve the same learning outcomes.
It’s worth bearing in mind that it’s not just the written parts of your course that need to be checked by a native. Almost every eLearning course includes image, audio and video content. These also need to be localised and checked by a native speaker.
Even something as innocuous (in many parts of the world) as the thumbs-up sign is not actually a universally positive gesture. For instance, if you have team members from Australia, Greece or the Middle East, there’s a chance that they will think you’re very rude indeed if you use this gesture in your materials!
The same is true of almost every part of non-verbal communication, including body language. That’s why Asian Absolute – and every other Language Service Provider worth their salt – will use native speakers to create and quality-check your course materials.
6) Provide live support
Today, there is a huge range of technological tools and platforms designed to make it easy for your team to communicate when working remotely.
If you don’t already, consider setting up specific training channels on whatever business communication software you use. Somewhere your employees can ask questions during the training process and not be made to feel vulnerable for doing so. You might want to consider:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Hangouts
7) Consider using an LMS or other monitoring system
An LMS is a Learning Management System. If you know how a Content Management System works, you’ll be familiar with the concept.
An LMS allows you to administer and monitor all of the training you’re offering. Plus, it lets you monitor by region, course and even individual employee to confirm their progress and even offer support if it looks like they need it.
If you don’t want to use an LMS, you’ll need to develop your own monitoring system. Otherwise, there’s no way to judge the effectiveness and efficiency of the learning methods you have in place.
How eLearning helps train new global employees to work remotely
Developing an eLearning course specifically to meet your needs enables you to hit all of the targets above and more. It does this by being:
Even smaller businesses these days are realising that when they need to provide global training, eLearning is the way to do it without breaking the bank.
This means that smaller companies and SMEs on upwards can now provide high-quality training for remote employees at an affordable cost. Certainly, they can do so far more cost-effectively than they would be able to do if they needed their new remote global employees to meet up in a physical location to receive training.
While combining eLearning with some sections of classroom-based or on-site instruction can generate excellent learning outcomes, eLearning on its own is still almost always the most effective option for staff training.
Courses tend to include video training sections and webinars too, providing a variety of ways to learn. When your goal is to create training designed for a global remote team, this is a natural fit.
3) Convenient and accessible
Allowing your new team members to learn on the move and when convenient to them has become increasingly recognised as a desirable goal.
This is another area where eLearning excels. All you need to do is design your course with this in mind – check out micro-learning and other useful eLearning terminology – and ensure it will be equally usable on different devices.
This also means that employees who are learning in different time zones can simply log in and start their day whenever it’s convenient for them. There’s no need to synchronise with an instructor.
4) Easy to monitor
Providing a global remote working environment will have a huge number of benefits for your team members as well as your company.
But such a flexible working arrangement is at risk of becoming too decentralised where training is concerned. That’s why eLearning’s ability to centralise your learning in a system which can be easily monitored – potentially via an LMS – is so important.
You can make sure that your onboarding process – so vital for remote employees – results in high levels of engagement.
5) Highly customisable
Even if you need to localise your training materials for relatively small portions of your workforce, eLearning makes it not only possible but cost-effective and simple to do so.
Trying to accomplish the same thing with a physical in-person course would be nigh-on impossible
One of the main benefits of in-person courses is interactivity. Luckily, eLearning can provide that too.
Narrative learning experiences, video content, infographics, gamification, webinars – eLearning courses can include a dynamic variety of material. Exactly what you need to foster learner engagement and boost training outcomes.
Global training for remote employees and eLearning
The need to provide truly global training for a remote workforce has led businesses in almost every industry to turn to eLearning in recent years.
The latest surge in popularity and uptake might have been caused by the huge growth of remote working during the novel coronavirus crisis.
But when a crisis like this can happen at any time in the future, it is suddenly even more worthwhile to set up your business to operate and grow when your team can’t be together in person than the efficiencies and productivity boosts of remote working made it before.
Are you ready to localise your latest eLearning course for your global workforce? Why not talk to Asian Absolute’s specialists about your objectives?
We already help companies in industries as diverse as automotive manufacturing and travel and tourism create highly effective training materials for their global teams.
You can get a free, no-obligation quote or simply chat to us about your plans with zero commitment 24/7.