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ATD Blog

3 Tips for Managing Hybrid Team Training

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The new hybrid work environment, where some employees are on-site and others are working from home, presents some challenges for organizations that need to train staff in various ways. Most managers and HR professionals, though, have not received any instruction about how to manage virtual team training.

Virtual team training is critical, and technology can help make it happen. Here are three tips for managing hybrid team training.

1. Follow Best Practices for Training Using Zoom

Nadian Zak, senior vice president of people at Vertava Health, has implemented numerous practices to help virtual teams training be most effective. For instance, Zak says before training sessions that it’s, “important to communicate extensively with participants.” At Vertava this includes:

  • Sending any necessary prework ahead of time
  • Sharing participants’ names and contact information to encourage them to connect prior to the session
  • Distributing participant guidelines about what to expect in the training to help set the right tone and streamline the sessions

Following the training, a recap email is sent “summarizing the big takeaways and any action items needed from the team.” And because virtual team training is most effective when coupled with examples of real-world applications, trainees receive homework assignments (or short case studies for team members to complete). Follow-up is done to recap the results of the case study. This, says Zak, “can really help drive the training message home.”

One important requirement at Vertava is for training participants to turn on their cameras so the sessions feel more personal. American Express Vice President of Global Client Group Esha Bawa has extensive experience in in-person and online employee training. Here is some advice:

  • Use the technology. Breakout rooms, polls, whiteboards, and chat features offer great solutions in virtual meeting technology. Using these will help create better virtual team training experiences for your staff.
  • Play some tunes. During breaks, brainstorming, or self-reflection time, music can help set the tone. But, Bawa adds, make sure to test this before using. “Some sounds do not sound melodious over the computer.”
  • Share prompts for brainstorming in advance. “While we want to think spontaneously, this doesn’t suit everyone,” Bawa says. “An inclusive practice is to share prompts with the team in advance to allow colleagues who need time to reflect that opportunity.”
  • Create an offline experience. Is there any part of the employee training that you can do away from your screen? Being mindful of screen time can help reduce Zoom fatigue.
  • Have lots of breaks. Humans optimally function in 45- to 50-minute sections, Bawa says. “Virtual meetings mean we need more breaks. Schedule sessions and speakers accordingly.

2. Make Optimum Use of Break Rooms to Help Manage Virtual Training

Breakout rooms can provide big benefits in managing virtual teams training, says Amanda M. Main, Ph.D., an organizational psychologist and associate professor of management at Lynn University’s College of Business and Management in Boca Raton. “Breakout room usage is critical for helping find that relevance because trainees can discuss with one another how the information has or may apply to them, and peer learning is much closer to the situation than training coming from a third-party source removed from their reality,” she says.

Breakout rooms also help participants in virtual teams training to shift from being passive to active participants. Main adds that breakout rooms can leverage more than “mere auditory input” by leveraging the use of whiteboard features and other tools that foster collaboration. “Small group activities also provide people with interpersonal connection, which is so desperately desired and lacking since the beginning of the pandemic and the implementation of social distancing,” adds Main.


3. Get Feedback to Improve Virtual Team Trainings

Mike Chappell, founder of Formspal, stresses that feedback is important to ensure that you’re managing virtual teams training in a way that is meeting participants’ needs. That feedback can be solicited before, during and after your online employee training, he says.

As companies continue to operate within a hybrid workplace model and virtual team training becomes increasingly important, following the best practices offered here can help make the difference between stale employee training sessions with limited interaction and engaging virtual training with active participation that yields real results. Learn More

About the Author

Emma Gaquin is the director of corporate marketing at Class Technologies. Emma has spent her career in the Technology space, focused on Marketing. She has experience working with business leaders and stakeholders at all levels of an organization, in both the private and public sectors. Currently, she is focused on increasing engagement in the virtual workplace through tools and software that connect teams regardless of location.

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Great suggestions for virtual team training, though can you suggest how to manage hybrid training (participants attending virtually as well as in the classroom)? Thanks for the article.
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So if you are hosting hybrid trainings, those that come in person, should they also log into the zoom, teams etc. call so that the virtual participants get the same feel of seeing everyone face to face?
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I have always shied away from hands-on practice of breakrooms but reading your article, I will definitely use this critical feature in my upcoming session to increase participation and involvement.
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