Training in the Time of the Coronavirus: A Quick Guide for Employers


Posted April 10, 2020

The 2020 COVID-19 crisis has forced businesses around the world into remote working arrangements for which they may not have adequately prepared. As a result, an unprecedented number of employees have found themselves suddenly and unexpectedly working from home. This situation makes even ordinary work challenging. It can be even more so for businesses that need to provide training, re-skilling, or upskilling for employees who can no longer congregate in physical classrooms. Thankfully, remote learning options have flourished, and sophisticated virtual learning platforms now make simulated in-person classroom experiences possible from anywhere and any device. But training a far-flung workforce is not necessarily a simple as just installing a new program. What do employers in a new world of remote working need to know?

This is, in fact, a great time to focus on employee training.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but training right now can provide an experience many workers are missing. Virtual training is (1) interactive, offering remote workers the sense of community they may be missing; (2) structured, helping people unused to working from home navigate the sudden loss of daily routine; and (3) relatively low stress during a period of crisis. Industry consultancy group McKinsey and Company agrees: "Digitally enabled experiences have also created new benefits [including] an increased sense of community, purpose, and focus for people who are no longer connecting with their colleagues in a co-located workplace. Around the world, organizations are using digital learning to increase collaboration among teams that are working [remotely] as they take courses together and collaborate in virtual formats."

Replicate the in-person experience as closely as possible.

To gain these benefits, however, it’s best to use virtual training programs that can replicate classroom learning as closely as possible. Plus, many workplace skills – like writing and communication skills development – strongly benefit from interactivity and real-time feedback for successful mastery. Since enforced remote working means large in-person events are no longer possible, look for virtual training options that can gather people in virtual classrooms with live, instructor-led sessions.

Understand the limitations of remote learning.

Online, remote education conveys many benefits and advantages: it's convenient, flexible, cost-efficient, and frequently associated with strong learning outcomes. But it's not a total replacement for in-person learning. It depends on the material, the participants, and the circumstances. It may not be possible to fully replicate the in-person experience. In these cases, organizations need to think about how to adapt or restructure their learning materials to better fit a virtual environment.

Get the basics right.


Remote learning can’t work if the logistics aren’t set up correctly. McKinsey advises that "good learning sessions of all types begin with a good participant experience. Ensure that the technology has been tested, local dialing numbers are provided as needed, rules are clear, and prereading materials are distributed well in advance."
About Hurley Write, Inc.
Hurley Write, Inc., a certified women-owned small business (WBENC and WOSB), Historically Underutilized (HUB), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), has been designing and teaching customized onsite and online technical, business, and scientific writing courses for over 30 years. We also develop and teach specialty courses, such as how to write proposals and standard operating procedures (SOPs) and deviation and investigation reports, and how to prepare and give great presentations.  Links: Internal, HR Dive, Training Magazine