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When you need a (physical) helping hand


During August TrainingZone will be looking at training for virtual teams and remote training. I'd be interested to hear how remote training techniques can get people around the need to have someone there physically to help them out.

The reason I ask is that last week I had two attempts at learning how to send the TrainingZone email from my remote desk (as I work from home quite a bit). My colleague who usually carries out the task of sending the emails was going away so I needed to be trained up in how to do it in her absence.

I was provided with an exhaustive set of instructions and a lot of telephone support. However, on two occassions I did not manage to complete the task. Both times I nearly made it but I was having problems with the email management system - this was a software challenge.

I received a lot of help on the phone and the insructions were good but there were slight nuances in how the software worked, and how my browser worked,  that meant I could not complete the task. On both occassions my colleague finished the task for me.

When it came to sending the email on my own I went to the office. Another colleague was on hand to help and sure enough I called on her help. However, what changed in the office was the fact I could show my colleague what I was seeing and doing on my screen. The problems I was having remotely were immediately fixed by my colleague looking over my shoulder and pointing out what I was doing wrong. The task was successfully completed and - mosty importantly - I could see where I was going wrong so next time I will be able to do the task more quickly. It was also completed far more quickly.

Remotely, my colleague was not able to see what I was doing so admitted that it was difficult for her to advise me. That was quite frustrating for both of us - I didn't want to keep having to go back to her and she wanted and needed me to be able to complete the task on my own.

My experience was that a face to face intervention was the best way for me to learn what I needed to do to complete the task. I guess that means that there will always be tasks that virtual team members will need help with face to face. Is that a reasonable conclusion?

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