The local, national and international news includes rotating headlines around medical supply shortages, economic impacts from quarantines and recommended precautions to manage the coronavirus outbreak. As a result, many businesses have implemented travel bans or restrictions.
Training managers may find themselves working to maintain business service continuity in times of high stress and evolving timelines. It is important that internal training efforts continue in these challenging times to support both employees and customers. Here are some tips that can help.
Planning and Teamwork
Your company may have plans in place for public health situations, but if not, the checklist below can also help you start planning.
- Leverage your existing disaster recover or Adverse Weather Plans.
- Document your actions in the current public health event to create or update a public health event plan.
- Schedule a team meeting to review the plan, roles and responsibilities.
- Schedule a leadership/stakeholder meeting to review plans and responsibilities.
- Make the plans accessible to team members.
- Leverage reliable sources for current public health data (e.g., the S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization).
- Work with your team members to adjust for their needs, including dealing with stress, health concerns or family health situations.
- Lead frequent touchpoints with team members to address their concerns and needs in an evolving situation.
- Lead a “lessons learned” session after the event to update the plan, gather employee feedback and assess impact.
The Physical Classroom Environment
Different office settings have different physical training environments. For smaller organizations, conference rooms may double as training rooms when needed, while larger organizations may have dedicated training rooms or even buildings. Regardless of the size or quantity of your training space, take steps to help keep it safe for everyone.
- Keep classrooms clean: Keep rooms stocked with sanitizers, tissues and antibacterial wipes, and make them easily accessible for learner use.
- Keep the technology in classrooms clean: Maintain consistent and frequent wipe-downs of keyboards, mice and work surfaces.
- Post health tips on signs in the classroom (e.g., cover coughs, use tissues to sneeze, and wash hands before using keyboards or mice).
- Update the room setup checklist (e.g., restock cleaning supplies and check on health tip signage).
- Update the room breakdown checklist (e.g., restock cleaning supplies; check on health tip signage; wipe off tables or training stations; and wipe down door handles, markers and keyboards).
- Keep cleaning and sanitizing supplies overstocked for emergencies.
The Virtual Classroom Environment
Hand sanitizer may not be part of your virtual classroom, but you should still include the online classroom in your contingency planning. If there are travel bans, or employees opt to work remotely rather than coming to public gatherings, your team may experience a dramatic increase in the use of virtual training options. Consider these tips:
- Prioritize upcoming training, and align it with virtual resources. In other words, if you have limited virtual classroom licenses, put them toward your highest-priority training needs.
- Keep your training schedule and/or learning management system (LMS) updated with any changes to virtual delivery.
- Post alerts for classes that change from onsite to virtual delivery.
- Confirm with instructors that they have the required technology to support virtual delivery, including web cameras, virtual classroom software and headsets with microphones.
- Provide refresher training covering best practices for facilitators who deliver content virtually.
- Maintain your current vendor contact information and internal approval process steps for expanding your virtual training software capacity.
Learning Resources to Support Remote Work
With the focus on ensuring safe and reliable training for employees, don’t forget that you can also provide training to support remote work itself. Training on remote working and virtual teams should be accessible and available to all employees and leaders. Topics to address may include:
- Virtual meeting technology (highlighting features like whiteboards, web cameras and desktop sharing).
- Virtual meeting behaviors (i.e., how to be professional even when working from home).
- Leading virtual teams (e.g., how to motivate and engage employees across the virtual environment).
- Time management.
- Establishing dedicated home office space and routines.
Whether you are coping with a severe weather event or a virus outbreak, communication is of upmost importance. Consistent messaging benefits all employees and supports compliance with needed actions. These steps can help.
- Coordinate with the internal communications team on messaging and channels.
- Issue communications to learners regarding where to find class updates and the steps that your organization is taking to maintain classroom safety.
- Work with vendors to adjust class schedules, change to virtual delivery if necessary and review onsite classroom safety precautions.
- Coordinate communications with other human resources (HR) teams, when applicable (e.g., employee relations, employee health and change management teams).
- Post message and/or banners to your internal LMS and websites with activated precautions and changes.
- Leverage internal social media for updates and reminders.
Be Vigilant. Be Flexible. Be Calm.
In times of unexpected and evolving change, businesses must continue — to support not only customers but also the livelihood of employees and the communities that rely on the business.
Training can provide a constant during challenging times. Being able to focus on learning a new skill while connecting with co-workers can be a rewarding experience, and improved moral is especially important in times filled with change. You can help your employees and your business by activating a contingency plan that reflects thoughtfulness and adaptability.
A thoughtful transition to remote learning is more critical now than ever. Download the training delivery toolbox to learn about the pros and cons of various virtual training modalities and when each is most applicable.