The coronavirus pandemic has affected all fields of activity one way or another. However, not many professionals were forced to reinvent themselves to the extent trainers did. Many of them had to deliver courses to hybrid teams, quickly learning to deploy new technologies. All the while, focusing on quality content and high instructional standards remained a priority.
Not all trainers were able to swiftly adapt to work that involved limited human contact and massive use of technology. However, practice makes perfect, and since the pandemic is not likely to end soon, instructors are looking for ways to overcome hybrid training difficulties.
So let’s delve into some of the most common challenges of training a hybrid team and see how you can overcome them.
Read more: The 3 keys to successful remote training
The major challenges of training a hybrid team
Instructors may face different hurdles while managing a hybrid team, stemming from the very structure of the team. With some of its members virtually connected through an online platform and the others physically present, it’s hard to focus on both environments.
Yet, adapting to this new reality is imperative as almost 60 percent of U.S. employees prefer to work remotely. Moreover, through many communication channels, innovative learning management systems (LMSs), and willingness to continuously learn, L&D professionals can overcome the challenges of hybrid training.
Not enough human contact
Many training specialists have been using online technologies for quite a while. However, creating compelling courses in an LMS is one thing, and not meeting trainees face-to-face is another.
Even some of the most tech-savvy instructors find hybrid and remote courses unattractive simply because direct human contact lies at the very heart of their job. Having to train teams both online and in-person can be confusing and frustrating as it minimizes direct interaction.
This involves more pressure, higher requirements, and, more than often, the necessity to prepare separately for each type of training environment, which takes us to point number two.
A lack of diverse course materials
Using an LMS, trainers can create and upload materials for both online and face-to-face courses. However, not all are familiar with these tools. Moreover, not all companies are willing to facilitate access to this type of technology.
As a result, many trainers found themselves spending more time creating materials after switching to hybrid training. On the one hand, they need suitable digital resources for remote trainees. On the other, on-site learners who were used to handouts and other printed materials expect the same during hybrid training sessions.
Naturally, this requires more effort and creativity. The bottom line is that preparing more training materials can be time-consuming, tedious, or even overwhelming for many.
However, trainers who openly embrace online tools can speed up their work. Besides, they can discover new ways to blend pedagogy and technology to deliver an engaging and personalized learning experience.
Team management also poses different challenges while training in hybrid mode. Typically, the bigger the team, the harder it is to manage. Furthermore, when half of it is physically present and the other is participating remotely, you can expect double trouble.
Many trainees find hybrid courses unappealing because they primarily seek human connection while learning from an instructor. A lack of willingness to engage in these courses may prompt them to turn off the camera, leave the mic on, or even leave the session.
All in all, it's hard for trainers to deliver quality content while keeping all their learners engaged regardless of their location.
Technical issues are challenging even for experienced training professionals who know the ropes of blended instruction. No matter how well prepared you are to engage your audience, you’re always at the hands of technology in a hybrid environment.
A power outage, a computer that stops functioning, or failure to connect to your Zoom account are much-dreaded situations. However, these things happen, and sometimes, you simply don’t have another choice but to cancel your training session.
Moreover, remote trainees can also face unexpected technical problems. Some might log in and out of your webinar because of poor internet connections. Others might not be able to receive or find their course access details, webinar invitation, training materials, assignments, etc.
In conclusion, countless technical glitches can disrupt a hybrid learning environment. But there are also solutions and this is what we are going to focus on right now.
... and a few solutions
The pandemic isn't going anywhere anytime soon, so if you're an instructor, you might have to adapt to hybrid training. Here are a few strategies you can rely on to make your job easier and more efficient:
Get familiar with the technology
Not being able to cater to the remote members of your hybrid team because you don't know where to click to turn the volume or camera on is both frustrating and a bit embarrassing. So, start learning how to use the technology, whether you work with a complex LMS or simply train via Zoom. There are countless guides and tutorials you can use.
Also, it’s always a good idea to have a backup in case your main device stops working. The same goes for other equipment such as speakers or projectors.
Keep a digital calendar
Training both in-person and remotely is demanding. Therefore, make sure you never forget to send course invitations or overlap training sessions by keeping an online calendar. There are different tools you can rely on for this task such as Google Calendar.
However, many learning management systems already include user-friendly calendars.
Leverage the power of visual content
One of the major benefits of online and hybrid training is that it allows you to easily share all sorts of useful resources such as videos, photos, presentations, links, etc.
Photos’ and videos' importance in workplace training is crucial as the average attention span is less than 20 minutes. So leverage them to make your course more appealing, effective, and memorable.
Promote active participation
Attending a course where the trainer talks continuously can be a bit boring even when you're in the same room with your work colleagues, let alone at home. Tackle this problem through active participation.
Encourage everyone to engage in your course by asking questions, assigning practical tasks, or even splitting your hybrid team into remote and in-person attendants and asking them to complete challenges.
To boost active participation and curiosity, you can also add gamification to your courses.
All the strategies you use to engage trainees face-to-face can also prove beneficial in hybrid teams. Moreover, this type of training allows you to leverage technologies that make learning more fun and memorable.
Rely on your intuition, creativity and always make sure you’ve got the tech part covered. Before each session, check your internet connection, laptop battery, camera, and all the tools you'll use during the session, and always keep an up-to-date calendar.