Developing and managing remote workers has taken on new and significant importance during the COVID-19 pandemic, as more and more businesses are establishing a full or partial virtual workforce. What these organizations need is an integrated strategy — one that’s designed to find the best candidates, immerse them in the business and plan for their ongoing development. This three-pronged approach is critical for operations with on-demand workers, whether they are employees or independent contractors.

Success requires a keen focus in three areas:

    • Cultivating a caring culture that creates the right environment to attract and keep talent.
    • Using degreed educators with the know-how to educate and engage workers — not just train them.
    • Investing for the long term by creating a workplace that builds competence and camaraderie.

Here’s how.

Cultivating a Caring Culture

Smart job applicants do their due diligence. They know corporate cultures vary, as does the value placed on — and the investment made in — workers.

Job sites reveal the good and the bad about a workplace, with candid reviews by employees and contractors. Their comments not only sway applicants but also influence the decisions made by companies selecting business partners. Emotional intelligence is a factor, as well. It can differentiate an in-touch company from an out-of-touch one, whether the workforce is in the office or remote. Numbers do tell, and people gravitate to places where they feel appreciated, whether they’re part-time or full-time employees. With better reviews, the caliber of applicants rises.

By its nature, a caring culture promotes open communication and stimulates learning. Developing a transparent and sharing workplace helps people feel included and valued, which strengthens bonds among workers, wherever they are located. Operating this way makes virtual work viable.

Here is where degreed educators benefit a virtual workforce. First, all lessons are teacher-led, geared to reach diverse learners through cross-training techniques. Instead of a four-hour lecture, workers switch from self-study to role-playing in small groups to gamification exercises. The change-up challenges them and helps the learning stick.

Second, educators skilled in virtual classroom training know how to break down a curriculum into bite-size chunks for easier comprehension. For example, they create microlearning with tools to animate presentations and engage workers with infographics and interactive tutorials. To ensure full participation in the virtual classroom, they energize participants with interactive experiences and game-based learning. For call center employees, for example, gamification provides simulated customer service scenarios with multimedia and quizzes.

Educator-led instruction plays off of real-world situations. By doing so, it prepares participants to address different circumstances, customer personas and ever-escalating consumer expectations.

Committing to Follow-through

No matter how thorough the instruction, workers won’t know everything the first day on the job. The training organization must consistently close the gap, which means circling back to reinforce key lessons; listening to customer interactions; and providing workers with continuous feedback, recognition, rewards and encouragement after initial onboarding.

Educators might also create a 30-, 60- or 90-day development plan through a learning management system (LMS), which would then underpin all development, inside and outside the virtual classroom.

A worker community website can complement all of these strategies, promoting a sense of belonging throughout the company. On this site, employees could review their performance, receive business updates and learn about new opportunities, and interact with peers.

A commitment to the effective development of a virtual workforce pays dividends — every day and in the long run. Well-educated workers identify with the brand and customers they serve, and they tend to stay. In times like these, developing an effective virtual workforce can enhance your business’ survival strategy and lead to long-term success.