By Corporate English Solutions

14 November 2022 - 13:56

Ways to engage remote and hybrid teams in online English training

Now hybrid and remote working are the new normal, online communication fatigue is affecting employees' concentration in and motivation for online learning. Addressing these challenges is a priority for L&D professionals who need to quickly upskill global, cross-border teams in English and communication skills at scale. 

Read on to discover practical tips to ensure your online English courses engage and motivate your employees, resulting in the skills development you need for business performance and growth. 


Reading time: 6 minutes

Zoom fatigue. Have you heard of it?

The pandemic resulted in an explosion of new words and phrases that are now common in our conversations. “New normal”, “WFH”, “hybrid team” have given us the vocabulary to talk about the impact of the pandemic in ways that others can relate to. 

Now offsite, hybrid and remote working have become the “new normal”, Zoom fatigue is another phrase that we have begun to understand and relate to. It describes “the psychological consequences of spending hours per day on…platforms”. Researchers from Stanford University have even developed a “Zoom Exhaustion and Fatigue Scale” to investigate its impact. 

How does this impact English learning? While our remote and hybrid teams are more adept at online learning, Zoom fatigue has reduced their ability to concentrate and engage in online courses. It is now imperative for online English learning not only to instruct, but also to motivate learners. 

Like many L&D teams, you may be struggling to source content for your large-scale online language programmes that does just this. 

It’s time to motivate. 

Read on to discover how you can ensure your online English training solutions keep your hybrid and remote teams engaged, connected and learning effectively.

Tip 1- Ensure equal access to online learning opportunities

Carry out an equal access check:

  1. Is ALL your online learning content available to all employees, regardless of their location or work pattern? When everyone has access to the same self-directed or synchronous trainer-led sessions, this will keep remote and hybrid workers feeling equally valued and engaged. 
  2. Does the training course incorporate learner training? Ensure the course helps all learners, regardless of experience or level. Find out how they learn most effectively. This boosts learners’ confidence in making independent decisions about their learning and be clear on how to maximise the opportunity.  
  3. Is the content accessible to all? Check that the content can make use of assistive technologies such as e-readers to ensure the material is disability friendly. 

Tip 2- Make English learning training social to connect your teams

Online learning has really opened doors. Your remote and hybrid teams can now connect easily with colleagues they would never meet in their everyday work. How stimulating this is! Getting to know team members from other functions, in other job roles, across regions and countries helps build relationships, trust and collaboration, in and out of training. You’ve looked at how to increase your teams’ motivation for self-study courses. Now it’s time to make online English learning more social to keep offsite colleagues stimulated. 

Carry out a social learning check:

  1. Does the learning solution include synchronous sessions? Does it make use of social learning tools? 
  2. Are there plenty of opportunities for interactive activities where learners can work together and practise? What’s the ratio of trainer presentations to interactive exercises?  Are there Peer Assisted Learning opportunities to increase engagement and interpersonal contact?
  3. Have you set up learning communities to encourage learners to share success, challenges, exchange ideas and tips? 

Tip 3- Reduce distractions with engaging content design

An article in the Psychiatric Times reports that focus in remote online learning can be reduced by “an increased ability to virtually multitask threaten(ing) our attentional capacity”.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Today’s online English learning design should combine self-directed learning with trainer-led content. This helps provide flexibility and structured support. Both essential for the remote and hybrid employee. What’s more, self-directed learning lets the learner go at their own pace. Perfect for offsite colleagues. As they have control over their learning, they are more likely to keep engaged.  

By checking the content design, you will help employees maintain their concentration and be more motivated to learn.

Check the content design:

  1. Are the training providers and trainers using data on levels of learner engagement from the learning platform? Knowing which activities and modes of delivery generate higher engagement helps adapt content and methodology. 
  2. Does the training include self-directed learning before the trainer-led session? This flipped learning, where the participant studies materials before a live session, helps learners prepare questions and express their needs to the trainer. The trainer can then provide a more personalised learning experience. When your employees see the content is relevant and targeted to their needs, they will be less likely to give in to distractions. 
  3. Do the trainer-led sessions give greater focus on interactive activities including practice, feedback, reflection and action planning? If the design includes flipped learning, more time in the training is spent interacting. This engages learners and demands their focus and attention. 

Tip 4- Communicate progress to encourage course completion 

Updating remote and hybrid employees about their progress in English learning is essential for further success. The more they see the impact of the training, the more likely they will feel engaged and want to stick with it. Importantly, when they progress in their learning, their workplace performance progresses too. 

Check if the course uses automated monitoring tools such as dashboards:

  1. Do your learners make use of the learner dashboards? The data on the dashboards are visually appealing and help learners easily and instantly view their progress. This transparency enhances independence and motivation to complete. 
  2. Do you make use of the real-time data in the L&D manager dashboard? You can track progress and manage employees who are struggling.
  3. Do the trainers use the trainer dashboard to understand progress, analyse patterns and trends to adapt their approach? Do they encourage anonymous feedback from learners to improve the user experience, content and methodology?

Keeping your remote and hybrid teams engaged in online learning is not just desirable. It’s business critical. 

Review your existing online English training programmes and keep this checklist handy when implementing new programmes to make significant differences for your offsite teams. 

As a continuous learning organisation, it’s time to put this learning into action. 

With over 80 years’ experience of partnering with organisations worldwide to develop language skills, our teams are experts in English and communication skills training that works. 

Discover how our online English courses can engage your teams and grow their language skills.

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