Upskilling 101: Everything You Need to Know About Remote Learning and Development

A cartoon of a female-presenting person seated at a desk with a large computer monitor. Various screens and UIs surround the desk and are on the screen itself.

Amazon is on a $700 million dollar learning and development mission to upskill one-third of its American workforce by 2025.

"Why is one of the world’s biggest companies spending so much on just training?" you might be asking. We get it! After all, Amazon could probably afford to just hire the best and brightest minds, right?

Two big reasons:

  1. Recruitment is 3 times more expensive than retention.
  2. It’s all about the skill gap!

87% of businesses globally are struggling with the skill gap already, or can foresee it happening in the near future. The world is going through a talent shortage. There aren’t enough qualified takers for the jobs available, and that leaves us with only one option: Build.

How does learning and development close the 'skill gap?’

The skills-first approach is somewhat new. The constant churn of new technology renders older businesses and products irrelevant every day. These kinds of sudden disruptions make even the most well-trained employee susceptible to the skill gap.

This got us thinking, so we set out to conduct an independent study on the present as well as the future of the workforce—not just studying what the employers need but also what diverse talent wants in 2024.

The good news is that 91% of employees we surveyed said they are ready to learn; they want to level up.

The other good news is that we live in the age of remote learning and development. Virtual methods (live interactions, video tutorials, gamified learning, webinars, etc.) can enable your employees to learn at their own pace and place.

However, remote learning, much like remote workforce management, has some challenges.

Why is remote upskilling more complex?

1. Self-started and self-learned (mostly)

Online training, the primary method available for remote upskilling, really only works if the employee wants it to work because it requires a learner to hold themselves responsible and accountable.

Remote learning and development programs can incorporate milestones and frequent check-ins but it still boils down to the trainee’s initiative.

2. Requires technical proficiency and readily available support

COVID made the world more tech-savvy – true!

But, even today, it can still be a struggle to execute a video call where everyone can hear everyone, no one’s video freezes, no one drops off, and everyone understands the assignment. (Relatable?)

Connection issues, software incompatibility, hardware malfunctions, and difficulty using the specific tool needed for learning can all hinder progress. To counter this problem, businesses need a dependable and proactive IT team with some fail safe measures to ensure as little disruption as possible.

3. Screen fatigue

There’s no getting around it – remote learning and development programs increase the trainee’s exposure to screens, and prolonged fixation can lead to screen fatigue.

An important aspect of remote workforce management is ensuring your employees keep a sustainable pace to their learning and take frequent screen breaks to reduce fatigue.

4. Follow-ups and feedback

Employees typically have lots of options for feedback, but the catch is that online follow-ups aren’t quite as candid or prompt, which can result in delayed resolution.

On-site feedback is more efficient because of speed and ease, allowing for more one-on-one personalized guidance and attention. Follow-up queries and gaps can be resolved faster. Managers should make an effort to ensure remote employees still feel supported and heard during the training process.

5. Low networking

In-person learning allows direct interactions with your instructor and other learners. Learning opportunities can also be great team-building opportunities, and are important for the employee’s career progression. Online training can feel aloof and secluding – but it doesn’t have to!

6. Scattered by default

By design, remote work isolates, and remote workforce management requires excellent communication, coordination, and structure.

Remote learning and development programs test those skills on an advanced level. It’s already a challenge to get a hold of all the team members at the same time in different time zones, work environments, etc. Now imagine doing all that, across teams, for a company training!

A lot of coordination has to happen to ensure that everyone’s on the same page.

7. Impact on business productivity and work hours

Some managers complain that the time spent on training could have been spent on finishing work. Training sessions can indeed cause a temporary slowdown in your team’s productivity, or may temporarily increase the workload on the rest of the team.

However, upskilling is an investment that pays dividends fast!

56% of HR professionals already feel that their company faces moderate to severe skill gaps, so you can leverage that momentum and drive teamwork amidst employees so they can all upskill and support each other.

Upskilling seems even more important for remote employees when you realize that under skilled employees require more micromanagement. When you upskill your employees, you enable and empower them and foster self-sufficiency, which is key for remote setups to work.

How to make remote learning and development more efficient

1. Individualized development programs and parameters:

To make remote learning and development programs more effective, we have to deep dive into each employee’s skills, skill gaps, work schedules, and other commitments so we can chart out their Personal Development Plans (PDPs). Their mentor and manager can then use this plan to personalize the learning techniques and establish tangible metrics to measure the progress.

A well-mapped PDP structure will enable the employee and the employer to grow faster and more efficiently.

2. Keep it short and fun

Reality check – attention spans are at an all-time low. How do you make lessons stick? Three words: short, knowledge-rich, and fun.

How do we make it fun? One way to break the monotony is to offer a blend of learning tools—videos, text, live webinars, and games. The more formats you can experiment with, the better it is. Some sessions can be instructor-led, others can be self-led. Just make sure you’re gathering feedback and adjusting accordingly!

3. Mentorship programs

Remote work can feel disconnected and isolating. You could upskill your employees using 100% virtual pre-recorded videos and pre-documented steps. But, we know human touch is still vital in all remote workforce management.

A mentor isn’t just the expert on-hand, but also acts as a guide for the employee. They will be the go-to person for all challenges and acts as the bridge that enables employees to engage with the training. Connected employees are more productive and stay longer!

4. Budget allocation specifically for learning and development

Employers need to step in and provide their teams with the right resources needed. You don’t have to be Amazon and dedicate $700 million,, but, on average, most American companies spend $1,500 per employee, per year, towards their learning and development.

You ‘right’ number will be determined by evaluating the skill gap and the correct ‘course’ of action. (At PowerUp, we like a good pun just as much as we like creating high-value trainings!)

5. Incentivize training

If you want your remote workforce to take upskilling more seriously, make it more rewarding for them to do so. Group quizzes or similar events could bring some friendly competitiveness back in the game and engage the learners better. You could also reward the top learners and winners with a bonus, gift vouchers, paid free time, or even a simple certificate. Encouraged employees are also empowered employees.


We are living in a rapidly changing skill-based economy, where skills are the most valuable currency. Efficient remote workforce management starts with effective remote learning and development.

Looking for a place to start? Set up a demo with PowerUp and close the skill gap.

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