Training Your Remote & Geographically Dispersed Workforce

Mitchell Caplan, CEO, E*Trade Group Inc. once said  “To succeed as a team is to hold all of the members accountable for their expertise.”   Working with a team of partners from all areas of business brings expertise to a wider variety of subjects.  I was recently forwarded the following from one such partner of mine.  I thought you might enjoy the information it presents.  This comes from the good folks at the Business Training Library.  OCCU-TEC is a proud partner of Russell Associates, who is an authorized business partner of Business Training Library, providing affordable training solutions for small and mid-sized organizations natiowide.

  Training Your Remote & Geographically Dispersed Workforce

 More than 14% of the American workforce is working remotely or virtually – outside the traditional office – according to an article by Douglas Gantenbein, featured on In fact, a recent survey by OfficeTeam indicates that 69% of polled executives said it was common for their companies’ employees to work off-site. What is perhaps more telling is that 82% of these managers said they expect the number of employees who work remotely to increase in the next five years. With ever-increasing technology and communication tools, and the rising costs of travel, working remotely is becoming a fast-growing trend in companies around the world. With more employees geographically dispersed and working from home, we need to ensure that our organizations are providing quality training and development for organizational growth in today’s non-traditional work environment. Here are three elements for providing a high-quality and engaging distance learning experience.

  1. e-Learning
    e-Learning is a rather broad, umbrella term encompassing many different virtual learning experiences. With the right content, e-learning can be a highly engaging and enriching experience for learners. e-Learning is certainly a natural fit for the self-paced, self-motivated remote employee. With e-learning, discussion threads and chat groups assist facilitators and managers with maintaining the team element that often evades e-learning activities. With e-learning management software, remote employees can easily access their training curriculums, and it can be easily managed by managers and administrators – no matter where they’re located.
  2. Streaming Video
    Streaming video allows remote employees to access entertaining, engaging course content via the Internet. This type of content used to only be available in either an instructor-led classroom setting, or with timely delays and costs due to shipping and the administrative tracking of videos sent to multiple office locations. With streaming video, remote employees can immediately access training and development videos – and employees dispersed geographically can have the exact same learning experience. This is great for dispersed work teams!
  3. Virtual Classroom
    With virtual classrooms, the moderator or facilitator and learners are geographically dispersed, and come together virtually, or online, to participate in learning activities. There are a number of course management and multimedia web-based applications available in which you can deploy, manage and report on your training and development activities … virtually! We’ve recently integrated WebEx Training Center™ with our LMS to create an outlet for our clients’ virtual training needs. Most virtual classroom experiences utilize word-processing documents, such as PowerPoint templates, so that learners logging in to the course can follow the learning and talking points with a visual guide. With most virtual interfaces, learners can download classroom materials and interact with the class via web-conferencing. What’s great about the virtual classroom is its interactivity. It mimics the traditional classroom experience, with immediate instructor feedback.




  1. One other delivery method is mLearning – mobile learning. Today’s smartphones can display Flash (except iPods, but they’re not hardened enough for a production environment anyway). mLearning is often treated as Just-in-time learning – during process execution a field person can review safety steps before executing the activity or task.

    Also consider what’s commonly known as Performance Support – whereas the items above all are concerned with structured learning and are instructor led or designed by instructional designers to enable self-directed, self-paced navigation (but not WHAT to learn, only the order in which to learn it); Performance Support often “bakes in” best practices and is very powerful for the transfer of tacit knowledge. These are commonly job aids, how-tos, tips and tricks, workarounds, etc. vs the more formal SOPs.

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