For much of the past two decades, online classes and webinars have become a staple of organizational learning and development programs. But in the COVID-19 era, demand for remote workforce training has spiked. A key reason: some remote employees find communication, collaboration and productivity more challenging in a home-office environment.

The issue is even more pressing for any organization with a high percentage of their workforce at home. Employees need more support now than they ever have. After all, it's more difficult to collaborate or finish a project when you can't pop into co-worker's office with a question. Companies simply can't afford to wait until physical offices reopen and in-person training resumes.

Another reason it's an ideal time to ramp up remote workforce training is that employees may have more free time. Without a daily commute and fewer outside activities, they have more flexibility to take advantage of training opportunities.

Find out how you can get free online training below >

The pandemic is an excellent time to invest in remote workforce training, but there are several factors companies should consider when drafting a training plan.

The benefits of remote workforce training

Generally speaking, workforce training helps organizations build employee skill sets across a wide range of subjects. Remote workforce training offers some additional benefits. This approach to learning is:

  • Cost-effective: Remote training sessions are typically less expensive than in-person classes since there's no need to cover the cost of travel or a dedicated physical location.
  • Convenient: Employees can participate in remote learning from anywhere—at home, on the road or in the office. Naturally, remote training is particularly suited to the world of social distancing, but it's just as convenient when employees return to the office.
  • Customizable: Since remote training is available in a variety of formats, employees have the ability to create a curriculum that's customized to their specific needs.
  • Scalable: It's easier to add more options, in terms of both variety and scheduling, when working with remote learning.

Since remote workforce training is easy and convenient, your employees are more likely to participate. They can select topics that appeal to them, at a time that's convenient and in their preferred learning format.

What to consider in your remote training plan

When offering remote training sessions, keep several factors in mind. For example, what are the topics your employees struggle with the most? What are their preferred formats for learning? The simplest way to answer these questions is to consult the source: Ask your team members. Once you've received their input, you can offer the right blend of sessions to provide both the content type and format that meets your staff's needs.

When planning, it's smart to put three areas at the top of your consideration list: training formats, engagement and topics.

These options enable employees to learn in the style and schedule that works best for them >

Training formats

Today's online training is available in a wide variety of formats, including:

  • Instructor-led: A live video or prerecorded session. Self-paced sessions: Audio or video sessions that allow attendees to move at their own pace.
  • Webinars: Prerecorded videos that employees can view at their convenience.
  • File sharing: Shared document spaces that house training materials for employees to access.
  • Remote desktop: Live demonstrations performed after an employee passes over control of their screen to a moderator.
  • Podcasts: Audio recordings employees listen to and learn from.

Remote training has numerous advantages, but only if employees are fully engaged. That's not always easy. For instance, instructors find it takes more effort to create an interactive session remotely than it does in-person. Attendees may be more distracted by their surroundings, and so find it harder to focus. Technical difficulties can also wreak havoc.

Organizations can overcome these challenges by sharing a few guidelines. For instance, simple practices such as silencing their phone can help attendees stay focused. In addition, when properly designed, remote sessions foster plenty of engagement through file sharing, online chat and group discussions. To keep engagement high, McKinsey recommends these best practices.

Before the session:

  • Test the technology.
  • Make access easy (e.g. provide local dial-in numbers and web links ahead of time).
  • Designate a moderator to field and address questions.
  • Provide training materials in advance.

During the session:

  • Use communications technology features such as chat or online polls to interact with attendees.
  • Leverage video technology to carry yourself as you would during an in-person session.

After the session:

  • Provide follow-up materials as needed.
  • Ask for feedback.
  • Troubleshoot any technical issues before the next session.

Remote workforce training is well-suited for a range of topics from leadership and management courses to software applications. But for today's pressing need—how to help your workforce communicate and collaborate more effectively as they work from home—training that's focused on unified communications tools and technology is especially valuable. By learning tips and tricks such as how to assign tasks, share files and create agendas for meetings, employees can connect and work together as easily as if they were a cubicle away.

All Mitel developed and delivered self-paced training free through Aug. 31, 2020 >

Mitel partners and customers have an opportunity right now to build up their technical skills across the Mitel portfolio. To support your investment in training, we're offering all Mitel developed and delivered self-paced training free through Aug. 31, 2020. The discount includes certifications for MiCollab and Mitel Border Gateway (MBG), which are ideal solutions to enable remote workers to do their jobs more efficiently and effectively.

Customers looking for remote working solutions can learn more about MiTeam Meetings, which combines messaging, telephony and video into one integrated solution. Video training on this truly collaborative communication experience is available at

To further support our partners seeking classroom training, Mitel has converted all upcoming classroom sessions to remote instructor-led delivery, providing identical content and hands-on experience through use of a "classroom in the cloud" infrastructure.

So far, our partners and customers have found remote Mitel training so beneficial that many are coming back for more.

"Last week, we participated in a Mitel MiVoice 5000 and MiVoice Office 400 technical training session organized remotely," says Frédéric Bousquet, general manager at ARAMIS Télécom. "The educational expertise, the availability and the flexibility of the Mitel France training center teams have convinced us to order a new training with a new technician this week."

Remote workforce training enables companies to make an investment in their workforce now—when employees need it most. Keep your workforce productive, engaged and connected by considering the above factors when putting together your training plan.

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