Training a Distributed Team

Training timelines seem to grow by leaps and bounds whenever there’s a little distance between the trainer and the trainees. When you’re working with a virtual team,  you simply can’t let the fact that you don’t see every member of your team in person slow you down. You do, however, have to take the nature of distributed learning into account when planning training timelines.

Distributed Training Technology

With screencasts, webinars and all the other online training tools out there these days, you can address many of the problems that slow down virtual training. For many team members, you may find that the most difficult part of learning a new tool is getting to see it in action, but screen sharing technology (available in many tools, including Skype and can help here.

Practice Makes Perfect

If you consider how training usually works when everyone necessary to the process is gathered in one place, you may still see some potential problem areas. When it comes to learning a new tool, many organizations follow a similar training pattern. The trainer goes over how to use the tool, following some sort of guidelines that the trainees will have access to. Then the group breaks up, and the trainees have a chance to put what they’ve learned into action, asking questions and helping each other along the way. That group dynamic is difficult to replicate online.

Estimating the Time You Need

There’s no iron-clad rule that states distributed teams needs X more hours of training on a new tool than an in-office team. But because of the nature of a distributed team, it makes sense to budget a little more time for training, even if you’re only making a trainer or an expert available to answer questions when you’re putting training into practice.

There’s no perfect training method that can speed up online training, either. Different team members learn at different speeds. Fortunately, those who push to be allowed to work out of the office on their own may have an incentive to work harder to get a new tool down pat.

Photo courtesy Flickr user Zak Hubbard