Nov 30 2020

How Small Businesses Can Train Employees for the Future Workplace

IT teams aren’t the only workers who should be trained on the latest remote work solutions.

Employees are the backbone of small businesses. The drive and productivity of workers are what shapes any company. In smaller organizations, those workers are often called upon to provide support in roles different from those they were initially hired for. Limited resources make flexibility within the workplace particularly important, and employees need to be empowered to fulfill whatever needs arise.

In order to do that, workers must have the right tools. However, when workforces shifted to a remote structure at the beginning of the pandemic, it became clear that having the right tools wasn’t necessarily enough: Small businesses also needed to know how to use them to their fullest potential.

Businesses reached out to get the latest collaboration tech and security solutions, but many didn’t realize that they already had those capabilities at their fingertips. At a time when organizations were pressured to cut back, knowing that new technology didn’t have to be acquired was a big relief, allowing businesses to instead focus on training their employees and unlocking the proper services to support the solutions they had in place.

To continue get the most out of these tools, employee training must remain a high priority. From initial orientations to continuing education on products’ newest features, a complete training program is critical to getting the most out of the technology businesses have come to rely on in the new workplace. 

Train Employees on the Proper Tools

The first order of business must be teaching workers how to use tools properly, and that includes hardware. For collaboration tech, for example, it is important to have high-quality video and audio equipment to ensure an optimal meeting experience. It's important that employees get comfortable, noise-canceling headsets so they are able to hear their coworkers clearly and contribute their own ideas without background noise. 

Quality webcams are also key to limiting distractions. There are many 4K webcams available that are superior to the 720p or 1080p cameras often built into computers. Employees need to feel comfortable using this kind of hardware to get the most out of applications like Cisco Webex and Microsoft Teams

Employees must also be trained in supporting this collaboration tech, particularly since workers are physically distanced from IT teams. Workers need to be able to troubleshoot problems on their own, as it may take longer to enlist assistance from the help desk or to contact other resources. It is important that they are trained in supporting themselves with both the hardware and applications that they are using.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Five questions small businesses should ask before choosing a cloud platform.

What Small Businesses Should Look for in a Training Program

The education shouldn’t end once the initial training is completed. Business applications have been introducing new features rapidly, with some implementing as many as four or five per week. With the rate of change so accelerated, small businesses must continue to facilitate some kind of training to be able to maintain optimal productivity. 

When developing a training program, the first priority should be to identify which processes are most important to the business. Does the organization need to meet frequently? How sensitive are these meetings? How often do employees need to be able to collaborate on documents or other applications? Answering these questions will help identify which areas require the most training.

Once that is done, getting on a regular training schedule is helpful. It may not be reasonable to have a weekly companywide training at every organization, but getting on a quarterly schedule or meeting even twice a year can pay dividends. Businesses can also hold ad hoc training sessions for specific features or tools that can’t wait until the next training session.

Digital transformation has accelerated dramatically during remote work, and it’s crucial that small businesses keep up. IT teams aren’t the only employees who should be trained on these new solutions. Keeping the entire workforce up to speed can help build organizational resilience for the future of work.

This article is part of BizTech's AgilITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #SmallBizIT hashtag.

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