Best practices for training remote employees: Tips, tricks & tools

Best practices for training remote employees

In 2020, companies have had to embrace the option of remote work policies more than ever. Yet despite the acceleration, the work-from-home movement isn’t new. A 2019 survey of 2,500 workers by Buffer shows that 99% of respondents would adopt remote working at least for some periods during their career. 

As this type of working becomes more of a reality, companies must consider best practices for training employees in remote settings. For great results, managers should opt for live, online training sessions. Whatever solution your company opts for, ensure it has screen recording abilities to allow managers to share the session later.

Best practices for training remote employees

Capterra researched the digital transformation moves made by Australian SMEs (small or medium-sized enterprises) during the pandemic. 41% of the 500 SME workers said their company bought or installed new software to enable them to work remotely. Concerningly, however, a third of the employees said they hadn’t been given any training on them yet.

To get the best return on investment (ROI), employers should always provide training on how to use new tools. In this article, we provide best practices and software recommendations to help managers train remote staff.

What is staff training and development?

Staff training and development refers to a set of programs provided by a company. The aim is to improve employees’ performance and results. Enterprises following the best practices for training remote employees use a wide range of educational programs and methods. Investing in employee training serves as a motivation tactic and helps the company create a highly-skilled workforce.

Although ‘training’ and ‘development’ are terms used interchangeably, the two concepts are different. Staff training programs involve specific and measurable goals—such as how to carry out a procedure with increased accuracy or how to use a software tool. A development program focuses on attaining and improving broader skills, which can apply to different situations—including communication, leadership and decision-making.

Why is staff training and development important?

Staff training and development expands the employees’ knowledge base and delivers increased ROI to organisations. Training programs help instil the required skills in employees and bridge weak links or gaps within the company. Employees attain a greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities and perform better in their job.

Investment in staff training also shows employees that the company values them by creating a supportive workplace. Robust training and development programs offer a consistent experience to employees. Also, companies enjoy increased adherence to top-quality standards and a boost in their workforce’s productivity rates. Ongoing upskilling and training of staff encourages creativity and innovation and reduces employee turnover.

Best employee training software

Companies can set up and run remote training in different ways, depending on their goals and needs. Types of training delivery models include synchronous learning, asynchronous learning or blended learning.

Although you can run remote training sessions on standard online communication platforms, there are a few other types of tools that may offer a better learning environment for your employees. Below, we’ve outlined the tools needed for each stage of organising and running an online training session with employees.

1. Scheduling the training session

Scheduling software allows managers to automate some of the organisation and logistics involved with the planning. The software normally includes a shared calendar view feature which helps managers find a common time slot for everyone to attend the online training. This is particularly useful for remote teams, who may also be operating over several different time zones.

2. Holding the Session

For organisations with a distributed remote workforce, screen sharing programs are a good option for holding a training session online. As the name suggests, screen sharing applications allow trainers and trainees to share their screens with other participants. Additionally, the software allows remote employees to share documents, presentations and communicate through live chat. 

Many video conferencing software solutions offer screen sharing abilities within their business offering, allowing users to host online training sessions and effectively communicate with participants. Similarly, webinar software solutions allow enterprises to host and share interactive recorded or live educational video presentations with their remote staff. 

With virtual classroom software solutions, trainers can engage with remote employees in an online environment. Course authoring software and LMS (Learning Management System) solutions allow you to create interactive and engaging courses, share documents, and track training results.  

3. Recording the training session

Online modules and screen recording software allow you to deliver synchronous and asynchronous courses, which employees can study and retain more effectively. The tool allows you to capture video and audio streams of the training sessions from your screen. Depending on the platform, users can then edit, annotate, and convert the files into different formats.

4. Analysing success & obtaining feedback

Send feedback questions for the training session to identify how effective the program is in developing your employees’ skills. Use survey software to design and manage electronic surveys to measure your staff’s satisfaction. Survey programs typically include different feedback formats, including checkboxes, radio buttons, free-form text fields or drop-down menus. With top-quality and efficient survey software you can assess any improvements needed to achieve the best impact.

Looking for screen recording software? Check out our catalogue.

A Global Overview: How Are Priorities Changing In SMEs During COVID-19?

software-implementation-globally

In the wake of lockdown initiations, the world experienced a rapid increase in digitalisation. Business leaders transformed business models to meet new market needs. They also invested in technologies, such as VPN systems and collaboration software, to allow employees to work safely from home. 

software-implementation-globally

Now, the question remains whether companies will continue on their path of transformation or revert to old ways. To know more, Capterra surveyed 2,904 respondents, which included employees and managers in small and medium businesses (SMEs) from Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the UK. 

For this article, we focused on the 2,141 respondents with decision-making power within their business. For a full methodology, scroll down to the bottom of the article.

53% of SMEs worldwide didn’t have a continuity plan

Gartner defines business continuity management as: 

“An approach whereby enterprises plan for recovery of the entire business process. This includes a plan for workspaces, telephones, workstations, servers, applications, network connections and any other resources required in the business process.”

 

The crisis took the world by surprise—including small and medium-sized businesses. When questioned whether they had a continuity plan in place before the crisis, 53% of them didn’t have or were unsure if the company had one in place. business-continuity-software-implementation

Not having a business continuity plan can lead to significant losses and potentially business closure. COVID-19 was an ongoing unpredictable crisis, and so having a contingency plan in place makes more sense than ever. 

Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb talks about the ‘Black Swan theory’. The theory explores the extreme impact of rare and unpredictable external events and how businesses can’t be prepared for these.

Therefore, having a plan that allows you to prepare for the unplanned can save time and money—and possibly the company’s future. The benefits of having a plan include:

  • Reducing time responding to the event
  • Reducing recovery time of critical functions
  • Avoiding poor decision-making in the early stages
  • Having a successful communication flow with employees and key people during the crisis
Business continuity software with features such as continuous backup, encryption and data storage can help your business prepare for an unexpected crisis or a cyber attack.

61% of businesses don’t expect to last another 6 months

The lack of preparation from SMEs around the globe has led to them having to make last-minute decisions during the pandemic without focusing on long term goals.

On average, 61% of respondents surveyed worldwide don’t think their company will last more than 6 months without government aid. For France, this number jumped up to 72% while Spain was least concerned at 53%. In Australia, 62% of respondents were worried about their business surviving another half-year without the appropriate aid.

The Australian treasury and the EU are amongst many governments that are implementing financial support to help with the losses generated by the pandemic. However, for some companies, the losses are too significant and will end up closing down.

Future of SMEs in covid

Digitalisation was considered a necessity by SMEs, rather than a priority

Gartner defines digital transformation as: 

Anything from IT modernisation (for example, moving cloud computing), to digital optimisation, to the invention of new digital business models.”

 

Despite companies adapting their offering in response to COVID-19, and switching to remote working, the results of the study showed that shifting towards this completely is not the top priority for SMEs in the short term. 

When asked about the level of importance of several aspects in the short term—such as employee productivity, brand image or retaining customers— shifting their business to operate digitally was ranked the last priority by respondents in Australia, Brazil, France and Spain. For Germany, Italy and the UK, the last priority is securing financial assistance and for the Netherlands, it is improving brand image.

The study showed that for the majority of countries, maintaining employee productivity and retaining customers are the two main priorities. For Brazil and the UK, the main priority is adhering to social distancing and local guidance regarding quarantine followed by maintaining employee productivity.  

For 64% of respondents, health and safety actions have been the main focus for their employer since the beginning of the crisis.

Implementing remote work policies (58%) has been the other focus for companies. Once companies had the policies up and running, the next step was to implement the software as soon as possible to avoid the maximum disruption and to help with employee retention and engagement.

shifting-to-digital

managing-employee-productivity

48% of SMEs had to invest in software due to the crisis

Almost half (48%) of the respondents said their company invested in new software because of the crisis. Brazil (55%), Spain (55%) and Italy (52%) were the three countries that had to invest in software the most as a result of the COVID-19.

This makes sense when you look at the fact that 35% of companies had to look at implementing new software for teamwork and 70% of companies were able to adapt some or all of their business offerings so they could be delivered virtually now.

software-types-implemented

Remote desktop software, video conferencing software and live chat software were the three types of technologies that were purchased or considered most in response to COVID-19.

Making good software purchase decisions beyond COVID-19

The lack of business continuity plans led the majority of SMEs surveyed around the world to invest in software. The primary aim was to ensure their employees remain productive while remote.

The study found that decision-makers need help with choosing the right software. According to our survey, a third of the respondents are in the interest stage of the buying funnel. In other words, they know the software they need, but they need to research products that fit their business needs. 

The study also found that almost half of managers based their decisions on:

  • Price (49%)
  • Ease of use (46%)
  • Reviews (37%).

Interestingly, Capterra found significant differences between countries when looking at reviews. For example, for the European countries surveyed in this study (39%) and Brazil (45%), reviews are considered helpful when looking to decide on software purchases. In Australia, only 18% find reviews useful and the primary factor is the ease of use (22%). 

Looking at reviews should be part of any software purchasing process. Third-party reviews provide an insight into the software experience from users.

Using technology to future-proof businesses against unanticipated threats

The crisis has shaken up businesses and pushed some of them into making software decisions driven by short term priorities. As restrictions ease and workers start to go back to the office, companies need to think about a longer-term strategy.

Gartner sees the response to the COVID-19 crisis in three main steps: 

  1. Respond: Implement short-term actions to keep the business running as a quick response to a crisis.
  2. Recover: A more ‘coordinated effort to stabilise operations.’ This can include creating specific plans to restore the business to the level before the crisis and also look at resources available to do this.
  3. Renew: Gartner stresses the importance of learning from the experience and building resilience for the future.

We have seen how for many businesses, the crisis has meant money loss—or even closing down. Learning from previous experience will help companies to assess the mistakes made during a crisis. It will also help create a solid contingency plan that will help them in case of a new one. 

Looking for collaboration software? Check out our catalogue.

*Survey methodology

We conducted an online survey in May 2020 between 2,904 respondents. Respondents were decision-makers, which included employees and managers in small and medium businesses (SMEs.) We surveyed employees from Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

Millennials Are Open To AI In HR—But Say There’s Still A Place For Humans

AI in HR

HR technology has integrated into the human resources department over the last decade—and as technology advances, the inclusion of artificial intelligence (AI) technology has grown with it. Many HR professionals are embracing this type of technology. However, to some, the notion of machines taking over a role that is based upon building very human relationships is a big concern.

But what about the employee perspective? With 40% of millennials making up the Australian workforce, we wondered if this generation of employees will embrace the involvement of AI-powered technology in HR.

AI in HR

The results indicate that millennials are open to AI technology handling HR tasks but they’d still prefer some activities to be owned by humans.

Other key highlights from the survey include:

  • 63% of millennials believe AI could make HR a fairer department.
  • The older the millennial, the less comfortable they feel with AI in HR.
  • Men are the most open to AI-driven HR technology, women are on the fence.

How is AI used in HR?

Artificial intelligence is already transforming the jobs of HR professionals in several ways. Here are just a few examples:

Administration

Artificial intelligence is well-suited to handling repetitive, low-value tasks. By automating these, HR professionals can focus on more strategic work as well as ones that require uniquely human abilities (such as the analysis of a specific context.)

To give some context, AI can relieve HR staff from administrative tasks like:

  • Payroll processing
  • Workforce analysis
  • Policymaking and implementation
  • Employee paperwork processing.

One example of deep learning AI within HR administration is chatbots. Through natural language processes (NLP), the AI learns to understand language that humans use rather than the language that a computer uses. As hinted by the name, NLP sets out to understand human language in its more natural form, in both written and spoken context. It takes into account tone, context and intent to make a judgement on what information the user is seeking.

By powering the chatbot with an algorithm that provides prompt and accurate responses to employee queries, it relieves HR staff from constantly relaying the same information to different people.

Recruitment

It’s difficult to know the true financial cost of hiring the wrong candidate, but a SmartCompany survey found 18% of small business owners felt their hires were worse or much worse than they had expected.

A great hire, on the other hand, can boost productivity, positively impact a company’s culture, and drive business revenue. For this reason, HR departments are using AI in their recruitment efforts to make smarter hiring choices.

The technology can automate candidate CV screening through to providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates. For candidates entering the interviewing stage, companies are using AI to ask interview questions. This includes the more basic questions, such as ‘How many years experience do you have?’ to more complex questions—like asking them to describe a professional difficulty they’ve had to overcome?’

Additionally, companies are using AI to make an assessment of a candidates personality type to help them decide whether they would fit in well with their company’s culture and values.

Onboarding new hires

AI-integrated systems can introduce new employees to relevant company information on their first day on the job. In a timely manner, an AI application will automatically send a new staff member information about their:

  • Duties
  • Benefits
  • Company policies and practices
  • Reporting authority figures
  • Team members
  • Training schedules
  • Meet-and-greets
  • Task assignments
  • Documentation to sign.

More than this, AI allows for customisation. The application will adapt the information included in the onboarding process based on the specific job role. For example, requesting specific devices that the employee will need or providing readily-prepared answers to frequently asked questions for that position.

Correctly onboarding new employees, especially in a virtual setting, is important because it sets them up for maximum success. It gives them a clear idea of what is expected of them and what they can achieve. For HR professionals, automating this process frees up a great deal of administration time.

Learning & development

HR departments are making use of personalised individual learning and development programs for their staff, which are powered by AI algorithms. Rather than providing a standardised program, the AI analyses which content and training need to be relayed to the employee to maximise their educational experience.

Often, this is based on the new employee’s job role, existing knowledge levels, skill sets and development plan. At the same time, the AI draws upon data and analytics from the business to factor in which skills the employee needs to develop to:

  • Positively impact the company’s bottom line
  • Drive business resiliency
  • Future-proof the business (by ensuring it has the right talent and expertise to meet long-term goals).

Tracking flight-risk employees

Some employers use AI to alert them to employees demonstrating behaviours that would suggest they’re unhappy in their job—putting them at risk of leaving the company. This includes tracking the way they express themselves on email and other company communication platforms to detect whether they change their overall tone. It also checks for keystrokes and internet browsing.

Of course, it’s for the employee to decide whether they want to seek out an opportunity elsewhere. However, by being aware that they’re considering other options, the HR department can proactively engage with them, and hopefully, encourage them to stay.

Incident management

AI-powered technology is also evident in the management of ethics and compliance situations. One business offering this technology is TalkToSpot. It allows businesses to identify cases of harassment and discrimination, policy violations, and whistleblowing.

According to the company: ‘Research shows that talking to a human is one of the biggest obstacles to reporting inappropriate behaviour at work.’ By allowing employees to communicate with its chatbot, a complaint is made anonymously—and importantly, the AI automatically triggers the appropriate corrective and disciplinary actions.

This sort of technology helps champion a healthy and inclusive culture; as well as demonstrating a no-tolerance attitude toward any behaviours that work against it.

The employee perspective: Are they ready for the future?

We surveyed 515 Australian millennials to ask how they’d feel about employers using AI within their HR department—a full methodology of the survey is available at the bottom of this page.

We set out to discover where the boundaries lie, from onboarding through to disciplinary actioning.

63% of millennials believe machines could make HR fairer

All humans are prone to bias. Unconscious biases are outside of our control and happen without us realising or intending it to happen. Our brain will trigger a biased response to help us make a quick judgement of a situation or person, and these thoughts are often based on our background, environment and personal experiences.

This was given as one of the key drivers behind the belief that AI could make HR fairer, according to 63% of Capterra’s survey respondents. One respondent said:

‘Artificial intelligence is impersonal. It does not judge on race, gender, or culture. It purely bases its judgments looking at skill whereas people can be unintentionally influenced.’

 

Respondents also made points about the potential for conscious bias in humans too. One millennial suggested that ‘human emotions sometimes get in the way of processes.’ Another said they believe AI ‘eliminates the possibility of favouritism and the involvement of personal preference’

On the other hand, 57% of respondents said they believe there is still an opportunity for bias to occur within AI. Of this number, 39% said the potential for bias depends on the situation.

Bias in AI in HR

Unfortunately, machines are only as good as the programmers that train them. It’s possible for AIs to learn biases due to engineers unwittingly introducing their hidden biases into the training data they use. In this respect, there are real concerns that AI could make issues of human and societal bias in HR worse. Mckinsey summarises this well:

‘AI can help reduce bias, but it can also bake in and scale bias.’

 

For this reason, experts advise companies to apply innovative training techniques and involve human judgement to ensure AI-supported decision making is fair.

Millennials value the people in HR but feel comfortable with some AI involvement

Recruitment

78% of millennials believe AI could help tackle bias in recruitment. 65% of respondents said they think AI could make HR fairer in the hiring process in general. However, the majority want a hybrid of AI and human recruiters to be used in the industry.

Within the hiring process;

  • 61% of millennials would be happy with an AI screening their CV, as long as a human review it too.
  • 40% of millennials aged 30 years old or more said they wouldn’t want an AI looking at their social history, compared to 32% of people under 30.
  • 27% of millennials said they’d be okay with an AI asking them basic interview questions.
  • 49% would be comfortable with an AI asking them more complex questions, as long as a human also makes a judgement.
  • 37% were interested in their skills being tested via an AI-powered game.
Read more on Capterra’s research into the millennials perspective of AI in recruitment.

The verdict: Millennials prefer a combination of humans and AI in the recruitment process

The use of AI within the recruitment industry relies partly on Australia’s readiness for it. Millennials are already showing indications of interest—and in some areas, such as tackling unconscious bias, they’ve demonstrated enthusiasm. But on that topic, employers must also consider ways that an AI-powered program could work against diversity efforts.

Technology that uses a video link to carry out personality type testing, for example, often relies on measurements such as eye movement, choice of words and tone of voice. However, it doesn’t account for blind candidates, deafness or disabilities such as autism. For this reason (and many more), it’s important that businesses don’t solely rely on AI in recruitment.

Onboarding

62% of millennials were happy with the use of AI in their new employee onboarding for a new job. However, of this number, almost half (47%) would prefer for a human HR professional to be involved as well.

AI-powered employee onboarding the millennial opinion

In terms of gender, women would prefer that this HR task was left to human professionals. A third (33%) would not like an AI involved at all (compared to 24% of men.)

Automating employee onboarding men vs women

The verdict: Millennials value people in onboarding, especially women

Automating the onboarding process has many benefits for HR professionals—a big benefit being that it saves a huge amount of time spent on highly administrative and repetitive tasks. An AI can also combine company data with the new employee profile to produce a personalised process much quicker than a human could.

At the same time, employees value human connection when joining a new company. For this reason, it’s important that new hires have a human point of contact during the process. This doesn’t have to be the HR professional, however. A buddy-system, where employers partner a new employee with an existing employee is a good alternative. However, it may be that an AI assigns a suitable buddy for every new hire.

Employee record management

A third of millennials said they’d feel uncomfortable with an AI handling their employee records. However, 65% were comfortable with it (with a quarter of the 65% saying they are happy for humans to step away from this activity completely.)

Importantly, there is a difference of opinion between ages. 45% of millennials aged 30 years old and older said they’re happy with AI handling their employee records. This is compared to 50% of millennials under 30 years old.  A third of over-30s would prefer humans to manage their records without any kind of AI assistance.

Age breakdown millennial opinion on employee record management AI-powered

A divide between genders is also apparent in the survey results. Almost a quarter (24%) of women are indifferent, compared to 18% of men. Half (50%) of men would be okay with artificial intelligence being the sole manager of their records.

Men vs women millennial opinions on AI driven employee record management

The verdict: The majority of millennials don’t mind an AI handling their employee records

Most millennials are open to AI operating this HR task, and a fifth are indifferent. This points to a clear automation opportunity for businesses. However, they should also bear in mind that around a third (32%) of respondents expressed feelings of uncomfortableness around this concept. With the task involving personal information, it’s worth employers asking staff to authorise and agree to the use of artificial intelligence here.

Career development

55% of the millennial respondents said they’d feel comfortable with an AI providing them with educational assistance to help them in their career. However, a quarter (25%) would prefer humans and 19% are indifferent.

Men were most certain of where they sat on the argument for AI-powered education or human educators. Just 16% said they were indifferent compared to 20% of women.

The verdict: Knowledge gap insights work well with human-led training sessions

Machines can automate a lot of the learning and development process for employees, such as choosing the most relevant programs and identifying what skills an employee needs developing. However, it’s trickier for a machine to teach softer skills, such as relationship building. With that in mind, the survey results present an opportunity for businesses to combine AI with human-to-human training sessions.

Performance analytics

Again, male respondents were more comfortable about the concept of an AI making decisions around promotion and salary increases. A fifth (20%) would be happy for an AI to make the judgement call compared to just 13% of women.

Both genders agreed that an AI application driving performance analysis decisions would only be workable in some situations (43% for men and 41% for women). The older the millennial, the more likely they were to agree with this statement.

Age and gender breakdown of payrise promotion decisions ai

The verdict: Humans should consider the context behind AI-driven performance analysis for employees

The discrepancies between genders and ages suggest a potential confidence gap exists amongst Australian millennials. If utilising artificial intelligence to make these kinds of decisions, businesses should ensure they’re transparent about the framework they’re using to make judgements.

Compensation and benefits

More than half (51%) of respondents said an AI could be effective at conducting analysis into the compensation and benefits that other companies are offering their employees. The aim of this exercise is to then create attractive and competitive employee compensation and benefits packages of their own. This opinion was unanimous across genders and age groups.

21% of employees were indifferent to who handles this task, while 29% would prefer humans to take ownership.

The verdict: AI can help pull relevant information, but humans understand company culture most

Using artificial intelligence to present important data around benefits to human HR professionals could be hugely beneficial to employers in the future. Combining this information with human knowledge about their company culture, businesses can pull together hard-to-rival packages for their workforce.

Disciplinaries

We asked respondents how they’d feel if an AI was involved in their employer’s disciplinary process (such as flagging if a person was frequently late.) Surprisingly, 65% said they were comfortable with it, with a quarter of these respondents saying they’d prefer humans not to be involved at all.

Importantly, however, 28% of millennials would prefer a human HR professional to handle disciplinary tasks without the assistance of AI.

The verdict: Machines can help identify problems, but humans should address them

The results indicate there is still a place for human agents when it comes to disciplinary practices. While machines can help to flag issues that need attention, a human-to-human meeting is likely to be more effective when it comes to taking action.

The final verdict: AI won’t replace humans in HR

With the HR tech solutions market coming in at around $148 billion according to global research by PWC, its role in the department will continue to increase. But what does this mean for HR professionals?

The reality of HR technology adoption increasing is that the role of HR professionals will change. It’s likely that uniquely human skills will grow in importance as a consequence. According to World Economic Forum predictions,  75 million current jobs will be displaced as the role of AI increases in human resources. However, in the same vein, the forum forecast that 133 million new jobs will be created by 2022.

Skills in both emotional intelligence and technical intelligence, like technology design and programming, will be important while analytical skills and the ability to operationalise change will be less important.

Looking for HR software? Check out our catalogue.

*Survey methodology

To understand the opinions of millennials in Australia with regards to artificial intelligence in HR, we conducted an online survey between 3rd March – 8th March. 

We surveyed people living in Australia from the generational group (aged between 24 to 39 in 2020) who work full-time, part-time, or are actively job-seeking. To mitigate the potential for bias, we screened out survey participants that worked within HR and recruitment. This left us with our final number of respondents for the survey: 516.

Best LMS (Learning Management Software) In 2020 For Training Staff

Best LMS software for small businesses

The best LMS (Learning Management Software) systems in 2020 are revolutionising how businesses train their staff. The systems automate employee training tasks to optimise their skillset for increased performance and high-end results. Corporate LMS software is available for internal use to train staff and for external use for customer training. 

Best LMS software for small businesses

Read on to find out about the Australian eLearning market, the benefits and disadvantages of LMS software and the four top LMS systems available in Australia.

An overview of the Australian eLearning market

Research and Markets, an online research agency, expects the worldwide eLearning market to reach $325 billion by 2025. In Australia, the eLearning sector is expanding at an accelerated rate. About 5,000 Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) deliver training and vocational education services to the Australian market. Agencies such as the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) and the Australian eLearning Association (AeLA) ensure quality standard compliance and supervise corporate eLearning delivery and development.

Australia’s government supports the national market’s need for skilled and productive professionals through authorities such as the AISC (Australian Industry and Skills Committee). Also, the growing use of smartphones in Australia, expected to reach 74.44 per cent by 2022, promotes the widespread accessibility of eLearning training from anywhere and anytime.  

The Benefits and Challenges of LMS Software

The Australian market has an increased potential for the growth of training management software solutions. You’ll find three types of LMS software available on the market including traditional, open-sourced and cloud-based.

Open-Source LMS

Open source refers to programs that have a source code which is available for free use by other users or developers. Some users or companies also use open-source programs as a framework to build their own platform. Because of this, open-source LMS programs are popular in Australia. 

Although these programs are low-cost and flexible, they don’t cover custom enterprise needs. Businesses that have multiple requirements, therefore, should bear in mind that there may be additional costs. In this case, an open-source LMS may not be the most cost-effective solution.

Cloud-Based LMS

Cloud-based solutions are available immediately and they’re simple to install. Developers regularly release updates, which improve the programs’ performance and quality. The systems are web-based and support online training across any desktop or mobile devices. Administrators and employees enjoy increased flexibility in their training sessions.

3 Best LMS in Australia 2020

Every organisation has a specific learning environment and a training plan. Some enterprises adopt a formal strategy with a determined number of hours for training each employee, while others have a more informal approach. 

Choosing the right training management software for your company will optimise your staff’s training and deliver unrivalled results. Here’s a list of the four best LMS systems in Australia in 2020. At the end of this article, you’ll find the detailed methodology of how we’ve selected these solutions.

Listed in order of overall rating:

1.  TalentLMS

TalentLMS
TalentLMS dashboard for learning online.

Rating: 4.6/5

Ease of use: 4.6/5

Customer service: 4.5/5

Free version: Available

TalentLMS is an award-winning cloud-based training management software made to deliver engaging training to your employees. The platform is rated highly by users for its ease of use, which makes it an ideal choice for amateur and professional trainers. The system supports a variety of multimedia content to drive your employees’ potential. 

Features include:

  • Availability in 30 languages
  • File sharing for internal and external communication
  • Gamification tools including point scoring, leader-boards and badges
  • White labelling for own branding, assessment creation tools
  • Grading tools and course authoring
  • Video conferencing and premium content delivery.

TalentLMS is available on desktop and mobile devices.

Read more

2. Canvas LMS

Canvas LMS dashboard
Canvas LMS messaging functionality.

Rating: 4.5/5

Ease of use: 4.3/5

Customer service: 4.3/5

Free version: Available

Canvas is a high-performance cloud-based training management software designed for small businesses and public administrations. It includes sophisticated course-creation tools, a modern interface and supports a variety of third-party integrations. 

Features include:

  • Assignment engines
  • Authoring tools
  • Reusable files
  • Scheduling live events
  • Course uploading tools
  • Course discussions
  • Attendance tracking
  • Automated and self-enrollment
  • Gamification features: Comprising of badges, levels, rewards and points.

The platform also includes a learning repository called the Canvas Commons for its community to share modules, classes and assessments, and resources. Its network is for face-to-face, online and blended courses and the library of apps make the LMS system a fully capable educational program. 

Canvas LMS supports asynchronous and synchronous learning. The software is available across desktop and mobile devices. It’s compatible with Linux, Windows, and Mac operating systems. 

Read more

3. Moodle

Moodle LMS interface
Moodle’s quiz testing functionality.

Rating: 4.2/5

Ease of Use: 4/5

Customer Service: 4/5

Free Version: Available

Moodle is a free online open-source Learning Management System, which offers educators worldwide a scalable and customisable training platform. It’s designed for small businesses and teams. The software allows trainers to create and upgrade modular features as needed. It supports peer assessment workshops, forums, and real-time messaging. The software is available on mobile devices.

Features include:

  • Creating and managing categories
  • Assigning courses to categories
  • Activity grading (such as manual grading)
  • Different grading scales
  • Gradebook comments
  • Audit trail
  • Single-sign-on registration
  • Self-registration with administrator confirmation
  • Assignments creation engine
  • Built-in authoring tool
  • Survey and test engines
  • Personalised views
  • Automated enrolment
  • Manual and self-enrolment.

Read more

With eLearning being a mainstream training solution used by most businesses worldwide, the LMS sector is growing exponentially. Australia presents an ideal environment for the growth of LMS solutions thanks to governmental support and market needs. 

Looking for LMS software? Check out our catalogue.

*Methodology:

  • We reviewed GetApp Australia’s directories of Learning Management Systems, which produced a list of 260 software apps (research conducted 1st June 2020).
  • Out of these products, we narrowed the list to those that had an overall rating of 4/5 stars. This reduced the list to 220 apps.
  • Many users are in lockdown, and won’t have access to face-to-face IT support. We set criteria whereby the tools must have at least 4/5 star ratings for ease of use, features and customer service.
  • We then cut the list to include only the most reviewed apps and analysed the written reviews. This action took the list down to 6 tools (with 300 real-user reviews.)
  • The tools had an established market in Australia.
  • Finally, we evaluated the number of monthly searches being carried out for each tool. To assess this, we use keyword research software to narrow the list.
  • This produced the final three tools in the list.

Video Job Interview Tips For Employers And Recruiters

Video job interview tips

There is no doubt that we are experiencing a unique moment in our lives. Naturally, the situation may be a cause of uncertainty in companies, particularly regarding hiring plans. 

However, for those businesses that are still hiring, technology has come to the rescue. Tools, such as video interview software, are helping to keep people safe by eliminating the need to meet in person. 

Video job interview tips

Leveraging technology to continue recruitment efforts

Although many organisations will already have contingency plans to cope with the months ahead, SMEs face a landscape of uncertainty that professionals at all levels are learning to manage day by day.

Of course, the decision to continue hiring will depend on several factors, including the sector in which the company operates, the nature of the business and changes in demand as a result of the pandemic. However, it is clear that the adoption of dedicated technologies will have a long-term effect on the recruitment sector. Video job interviews use audiovisual technology, therefore they can take place anywhere.

Advantages of video interviews

The tools that facilitate remote candidate screening offer many advantages compared to a face-to-face interview, including:

  • Saving the candidate time by eliminating the need to travel.
  • Improving the convenience for the interviewee due to the at-home set up— also making the moment less stressful.
  • Interview recordings mean the interview can be viewed multiple times by several people.
  • Allowing the list of candidates to be extended to those who are physically far from the company’s headquarters.

Video job interviews can be executed in many different ways. Here are three examples:

  1. Streaming video: Similar to a traditional video conference setup.
  2. Video recording: The recruiter sends one or more questions to the interviewee (who then captures their answers on video.)
  3. CV video: A great alternative to a covering letter whereby the candidate video records a brief explanation of their experience, motivations and ambitions on camera.

Tips for conducting a successful job interview video

It is important to understand how to best evaluate candidates through video interviews. Below we have compiled a series of suggestions to make a good job interview video and to identify the best candidates:

1. Pick the right software

It is essential to choose a tool that suits your needs. Do you usually conduct individual interviews or group sessions? Do you prefer streaming or recorded mode?

Presentation videos, a database of questions, assessments or training sessions are some of the features of staffing agency software.

Some video interview solutions facilitate the use of video presentation of candidates, to make a pre-selection and filter based on the experience of the interested parties. These features allow you to get to know the candidates before inviting them to a fact-finding interview.

Other tools use a series of algorithms to choose the most qualified candidate and the one that best suits the requirements of the job position.

Learning about your tool for interviewing and managing each of its features is vital to take advantage of all its advantages.

2. Make sure that the video interview respects all stages of the traditional job interview

A traditional interview begins with the greeting of the candidate in reception and with a brief informal conversation to put them at ease. As far as possible, the video interview must be able to replicate the structure of a presidential meeting: Presentations, questions and answers, closure and information on the next steps.

Thinking about all the phases of a video interview and learning to structure them according to a period of time is fundamental in order not to leave out any of the questions and to correctly evaluate the candidate. 

3. Prepare a list of questions to evaluate the key skills for the position

To ensure a positive experience for the candidate, the recruiter should prepare a list of questions to focus on the context and requirements for the position offered.

Just like a traditional job interview, the candidates should prepare information to share about themselves and their experiences. In these cases, a previously prepared script may come across a little rigid. However, having a set of bullet-points to help the interview flow is a good idea.

They should also pre-consider questions to ask the interviewer to get to know the ins and outs of the job role better. Again, a written-down list of questions works well in this situation.

4. Do not exceed the optimal duration of the interview

The most important advantage of video job interviews is that they significantly reduce waiting times. The candidate doesn’t have to deal with rush-hour traffic or sit in reception until the interviewer is ready.

Make sure to start the interview on time, at the agreed time, and to structure it so that it can last between 30 and 45 minutes. If for specific needs you cannot meet this time limit make sure that, in any case, the interview never exceeds 60 minutes. Beyond this threshold, tiredness and fatigue can lead to a loss of clarity and focus on both sides. It’s better to reduce the time of the meeting to ensure quality interaction.

5. Pay particular attention to non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication can be just as important as verbal communication. In the case of a video job interview, the small gestures are especially relevant as you do not have the opportunity to evaluate the candidate face-to-face. For example, is the location of the webcam ideal for promoting interaction?

In remote interviews, attention to detail also translates into the choice of location for the meeting. It is not the same thing to interact with a candidate who speaks from their desk with an excellent WiFi connection than to try to speak with someone who is immersed in the chaos of a kitchen at lunchtime or is live from the balcony.

All these small elements will help you form as accurate of a first impression as possible.

Looking for video interviewing software? Check out our catalogue.

 

73% Of SMEs Reassigned Their Staff To New Roles To Help Combat COVID-19

Role reassignments

Less than half (49%) of decision-makers said their employer had a business continuity plan in place before the outbreak, according to Capterras survey. Those without one had to pull together last-minute recovery plans to safely navigate around the challenges of COVID-19 with minimal damage. 

For Australian small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs), 73% said their company moved individuals into different roles. Capterra’s survey highlights the important rationales behind their workforce realignment strategies.

Role reassignments

COVID-19 is driving workforce realignment strategies

Due to social distancing measures, not everyone can perform their usual job duties—or at least to the same ability as normal. For some, there are fewer clients than usual to consult. For others, there are no diners in their restaurant. 

One response to these pressures is to eliminate those positions. Another is to identify the most prominent-facing work priorities and reassign vacant employees to them. Capterra surveyed 458 Australians who are currently employed by a functioning SME. Three quarter (75%) of the survey panel include staff members that uphold decision-making power within their business—full details of the survey methodology are available at the bottom of this page. 

Key highlights:

To cope with the changing needs of the business:

  • 73% of decision-makers said they’ve shifted the roles of their employees.
  • 58% of the job reassignments are temporary. 
  • 15% are permanent.

One company operating this strategy is the Australian law firm, Net Lawman. The firm’s Director, Andrew Taylor, explained how reassigning some of their part-time staff to full-time positions has driven greater stability and security in a time of uncertainty:

‘Some of our marketing team, who are freelancers, were always on a temporary basis, but as we began to rock through uncertain times, we moved that to a more permanent fixture so that we could be certain our marketing campaigns would be handled by people who knew us well. This gave them security as well, which I hope was a positive for them.’ – Andrew Taylor, Director at Net Lawman

Short-term priorities drove job reassignments

Three main objectives are driving workforce shifts within Australian SMEs. These include:

1. Preventing job losses

The top two immediate priorities, according to the responses of decision-makers, were retaining staff and ensuring they remain productive. This finding is unsurprising given Australia’s current unemployment crisis.

In May, 69,000 people returned to work in Australia as the economy began to open back up. However, according to research house Roy Morgan, there are still 2.09 people without a job due to the crisis. Mostly, this is due to the financial strains that the crisis put on industries. According to ABS, ‘those aged between 20-29 and over 70 were the worst affected by the job cuts in the accommodation and food services sector, with more than 40 per cent losing work.’

Other cases have seen businesses standing down their workforce. Stand downs involve a business temporarily shutting up shop, rather than closing completely. Many industries (such as the hospitality, retail, and travel sectors) stood down large numbers of staff as a direct result of the virus. Qantas airline, for example, stood down 20,000 employees in May. 

According to The National Law Review, this difficult but vital decision sends an important message:

‘It is saying to your employees “We are shutting down now because we have to, but we will be back and we want you to be around when we re-open”.’ – The National Law Review

 

While this strategy allows businesses to press the pause button for a while to help them get through the crisis, it’s not ideal. Employees aren’t paid by employers because they aren’t performing their duties, which can add to pressure they may already be feeling.

2. Retaining customers

Retaining customers is an ongoing objective for small businesses in Australia, but during a crisis, it’s even more vital. Respondents listed this aspect as the third biggest priority for ensuring business continuity. 

72% of companies in Australia digitised their products or business model to adhere to social distancing guidelines. To stay functional and continue adding value to customers, Australian SMEs implemented six key changes to their business:

Business adaptions
Infographic 1: Australian SMEs were forced to adapt business models due to COVID-19.

To meet changing demands and deliver on new promises, it’s logical that businesses had to adapt their workforce and technology too.

3. Maintaining business continuity while social distancing

The fourth and fifth priorities included adhering to local guidance regarding quarantining and social distancing while increasing cash flow. More than half (53%) of respondents said their business had to tighten or cut their 2020 budget.

Spend adaptions
Infographic 2: Australian SMEs switched up their 2020 spending plan.

68% had to reallocate budget to areas of the business they hadn’t planned to spend on. For example, acquiring remote work software and video conferencing software to allow staff to work from home. Similarly, 52% of respondents said their employer had to delay their planned spend in the medium and long-term.

As a result of reduced budgets, many businesses in Australia decided to put hiring efforts on hold. Job advertisement platform, SEEK, reported in their April 2020 Employee Report that they’d seen a rapid and drastic decrease in vacancy advertisements being published. 

To fulfil business needs during a recruitment freeze, it makes sense that companies reassign existing employees to the most pressing tasks at hand.

Maintaining employee capability and capacity

As indicated by Michael Bertolino, EY Global People Advisory Services Leader, ‘People and HR functions are the first line of resilience for the workforce during a crisis.’ 

The multinational professional services firm, headquartered in the United Kingdom, suggests that in times of a crisis, company’s should consistently assess the situation that people are in and how they can protect, enable and move individuals and teams to provide maximum value. They released the four key pillars of workforce planning that businesses can apply to assess the resilience of their workforce:

  1. Cost: Money coming into the business versus money being spent is imperative for survival. Having the right mix and number of workers is a key part of this. 
  2. Capacity: Businesses should forecast what skills they’ll need for the future while also considering the potential impact of software acquisitions. For example, automation technologies help drive employee productivity; meaning they can do more in less time. 
  3. Capability:  Investigating whether the business has the in-house skills available is vital. Capterras survey found 72% of SMEs have changed business models. As a result, businesses lent on staff to carry out different duties than usual. 
  4. Composition: For any new skill sets required, businesses should try leveraging their existing talent ecosystem before looking elsewhere. 

Financial consultants, Deloitte, also set out an alternative framework for workforce strategising. The five critical actions to help businesses through the recovery phase of the pandemic: reflect, recommit, re-engage, rethink and reboot. These actions ‘help organisations to bring the crisis response to the new normal by laying the foundation to thrive in the aftermath of the crisis.’

As roles evolve, employees may require more training

As organisations and their workforce go head-to-head with the pandemic, several new realities are emerging. The length of the outbreak is uncertain and so businesses must prepare for the possibility of disruption until the end of 2021 at least. Businesses should consider whether they’ve equipped their workforce with the right type of knowledge, skill sets, and training to face what lies beyond.

Workplace policies

One key area where employees will require retraining is on workplace policies. The current and future work environment is continuously evolving, and so staff will need fresh briefings on these. 

Capterra’s survey found that 24% of decision-makers have briefed staff on health and safety since the crisis began and 22% have provided a remote work policy. It’s possible these numbers are driven by the previously-mentioned priority to ensure staff remains productive during the disruption. 

Concerningly, however, just 14% have implemented an IT security policy. Given that Australia is experiencing an increase in cyber threats, SMEs must do more to support staff on how to prevent a digital attack

Measures from COVID
Infographic 3: SMEs implemented new measures because of COVID-19.

Software training

68% of staff say they were trained on how to use the newly purchased tools within their business. Of this number, 15% received official online training using online learning management software, while 53% partook in informal online training (such as over video conferencing software with a member of the team). 

Around one-third of staff (32%) said they are yet to participate in any kind of training. Managers put this down to a lack of budget and time.

Idiosyncratic jobs have a place in the future workforce

There is a strong argument for the use of idiosyncratic jobs (positions where new duties accrue as a result of an external context) to help businesses see out foreseeable disruptions. Their existence can help company’s deal with changing circumstances and cater entirely to organisational goals. A business development staff member who has fewer clients spending during the pandemic may become involved in a team tasked with developing a new business offering, for example.

For the job holder, idiosyncratic jobs also serve them well. For one, they keep their job during a time of economic turbulence. However, it also enables them to build relevant skill sets as business needs transform. Job descriptions are likely to change as a result of this crisis. Idiosyncratic tasks help employees whose previous duties may no longer be relevant get the experience they’ll need to apply to future market conditions. 

The role of People and Human Resource (HR) departments are key to future-proofing businesses. Companies that keep that mind, consistently checking on the resiliency and relevancy of their workforce, are likely to fit better within the working world post-COVID-19.

Looking for HR software? Check out our catalogue.

*Survey methodology:

Capterra wanted to understand the strategies that functioning small and mid-sized companies took to navigate the pandemic. 

We surveyed people living in Australia and employed by an Australian SME. The panel included part-time employees (22%) and full-time employees (78%). Due to the COVID-19 crisis, 88% of survey participants were working remotely full-time or part-time. However, 12% were not working remotely due to various restrictions; such as not being able to perform their job remotely or not having authorisation from their employer.

Of the total respondents, 75% of them held management positions with decision-making power. A quarter (25%) were junior or intermediate level workers (with little to no influence over business decisions.) The participants come from various business sectors and levels of seniority.

We conducted an online survey around how SMEs are utilising technology in Australia between 19th and 21st of May. Capterra defines SMEs as companies with fewer than 200 employees, and more than one.

 

78% of Australian SMEs Say Software Will Be Critical To Their Survival

Usage of technology in Australia during a crisis

Australian businesses have faced one of their hardest years to date. As a result, companies are leaning heavily on software acquisition to survive. Based on Capterra’s latest survey results, we reveal how technology in Australia (such as collaboration software) was prioritised during the pandemic, and what lessons businesses can apply to the new challenges ahead.

Usage of technology in Australia during a crisis

The state of Australian small and mid-sized businesses in 2020

Official figures reveal that the economy decreased by 0.3% in the first three months of the year due to the bushfires and early stages of the outbreak. This shrinkage officially pushes the country into a recession. Governor Phillip Lowe said Australia is facing the toughest conditions since the Great Depression but notes that ‘it is possible that the depth of the downturn will be less than earlier expected.’

Capterra looked into the crucial business decisions that have been made by small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to survive the economic downturn so far. We surveyed* 458 Australians currently employed by an SME. Three-quarters of the survey panel represent decision-makers so that we can take a deep dive into the rationale behind the business decisions. 

To read the full methodology of this research, skip to the bottom of the page.

62% of SMEs don’t expect to survive another six months

The survey revealed some concerning statistics: 62% said they don’t believe their business can last another six months under current conditions (government aid aside). 

More positively; most see technology as the ally that will help see them through. 78% of decision-makers said the software purchases they make will be critical to their survival during (and after) the pandemic. 

Technology in Australia
Infographic 1: How technology in Australia has been used by SMEs during the epidemic

Now, as Australia enters the first recession in 29 years, small businesses are under even greater financial pressures. To survive, SMEs must apply what they’ve learned during COVID-19. 

3 key lessons we can take from the pandemic and apply to future economic challenges

1. Plan for the worst 

The pandemic caught most SMEs in Australia off-guard. In fact, many didn’t prepare for a crisis in any form according to Capterra’s research. Less than half (49%) had a business continuity plan in place before the outbreak. As a result, business leaders had to react fast—making decisions that previously took weeks or months in a matter of days. 

Capterra’s research highlights how SMEs in Australia were rapidly forced into a back-to-basics mentality. Investing in fundamental technologies (such as remote work software) to allow them to operate virtually was a key response during the pandemic—and one that will continue helping them weather the storm during the recession.

Why it’s important: Your company office may never set fire, but you’ll certainly want a fire extinguisher there anyway. The same applies to a business continuity plan. Hope to never use it; but make a plan that will enable you to survive the unexpected regardless.

2. Focus on short-term priorities

With budget allowances tightened, small businesses reprioritised resources to make them stretch further. For example, rather than hiring new help into the business, 58% of managers say they reassigned the roles of existing employees to focus on mission-critical tasks.

But small businesses are still spending where necessary, such as investing in essential technological resources. 79% of respondents say their business needs new software to stay productive in a virtual working environment. Below is a breakdown of where respondents said their businesses had to (or still need to) invest in software:

  • Collaboration: 39%
  • Internal processes: 25%
  • Product delivery: 15%

Note: 19% already had the software they needed, while 1% weren’t sure. 

Why it’s important: By making these changes now, businesses better position themselves to thrive in emerging digital landscapes. 

3. Adjust spend allocation and timelines to fit with new market conditions

An overwhelming majority of SMEs made decisions to reallocate budget to mission-critical tasks. SMEs made adjustments in three main ways:

During COVID-19, 84% of SMEs adapted their 2020 planned spend 

Three months into the year and planned spend went out the window for the majority of businesses. Almost a third (31%) of SMEs increased their spend but the majority (53%) said the pandemic caused them to make temporary reductions. Just 14% said the pandemic didn’t impact their planned spend.

Planned spend adaptions during COVID-19
Infographic 2: A breakdown of spend adaptions in Australian SMEs due to COVID-19.

68% moved budget to other areas of the business

More than two thirds (68%) of respondents said the pandemic forced them to change where they invested money within the business. Of this number, 48% didn’t have software acquisitions or upgrades in their plan before the lockdown—but say their hand was forced. A fifth of respondents (20%) already had a budget allocated to software but had to move it to a different area of the business.

The most popular software acquired during the pandemic includes:

  1. Remote desktop software
  2. Video conferencing software
  3. Collaboration software
  4. Live chat software
  5. Webinar software.

40% sped up software acquisition to pay for unexpected business needs

More than half (52%) of SMEs have had to delay their planned spend in the medium and long-term. However, 40% say the opposite: Covid-19 bought their timeline forward. 

Timeline adaptions
Infographic 3: How spending timelines were adapted by SMEs due to COVID-19.
Why it’s important: In a crisis, it’s sensical for companies to be more conservative with their budget. Making non-essential investments isn’t bad spending. However, business leaders should first feel confident that they have the fundamental resources (and finances) to withstand another crisis (such as a second wave of the epidemic.)

What drove business-decisions during the coronavirus crisis?

Three main factors influenced the products selected by SMEs during the pandemic. We’ve listed them below in order of what respondents felt were most important:

1. Pricing

Respondents referenced a software product’s price and range of plans available as the biggest influencing factor in their software purchase decision. With 53% of SMEs reducing their spend as a direct response to challenging market conditions, it’s natural for buyers to be mindful of price. 

The second most attractive feature for buyers was the availability of a free trial. This not only suggests that software buyers are getting savvier with their budget, but also that they’re putting more thought into investing in the right software.

Tip: We have put together a list of software vendors that are offering users a free version of their platforms to help them navigate challenges brought about by COVID-19.

2. Ease of use

Usability refers to “the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals, with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” according to ISO 9241 Ergonomics of Human System Interaction.

According to our respondents, ease of use was the third most important aspect of product selection. With 57% of SMEs now working from home, this preference is an unlikely coincidence.

Businesses need to select software that their team will respond well to. Platforms that confuse or frustrate users will only deter them from using them.

3. What other people said about the product

31% of respondents referenced the perceptions of other buyers (and existing customers) as important. For example, reviews on software comparison websites and opinions posted on social media platforms. 

It’s common for us to turn to online reviews for consumer purchases, so it makes sense that this is being mimicked in the B2B software buying decision. According to our online reviews survey, 98% of Australians read online reviews before they make a business purchase, and 94% believe them to be trustworthy.

Critical business investments put SMEs in good stead 

At the beginning of the year, Gartner predicted that spending on technology in Australia (both for products and services) would increase to AUD$99.6 billion in 2020. Information technology (IT) services were expected to take precedence, with a predicted AUD$36 million spent during 2020.  Communication services would follow closely behind at $28.8 million. 

The crisis appears to have fast-tracked these digital advancements, putting businesses in a less vulnerable position while the country navigates through the recession. It’s likely that business-critical software will continue to take precedence over non-essential software until market conditions improve.

The digitalisation of basic business functions will be key to the survival of smaller businesses in Australia. In particularly challenging conditions, businesses can take comfort in the fact that the moves made now have the potential to make them more robust in the future. 

Looking for remote work software? Check out our catalogue.

*Survey methodology: The current usage of technology in Australia

Capterra wanted to understand the current usage of technology in Australia as well as the strategies that functioning small and mid-sized companies took to navigate the pandemic. 

We surveyed people living in Australia and employed by an Australian SME. The panel included part-time employees (22%) and full-time employees (78%). Due to the COVID-19 crisis, 88% of survey participants were working remotely full-time or part-time. However, 12% were not working remotely due to various restrictions; such as not being able to perform their job remotely or not having authorisation from their employer.

Of the total respondents, 75% of them held management positions with decision-making power. A quarter (25%) were junior or intermediate level workers (with little to no influence over business decisions.) The participants come from various business sectors and levels of seniority.

We conducted an online survey around how SMEs are utilising technology in Australia between 19th and 21st of May. Capterra defines SMEs as companies with fewer than 200 employees, and more than one.

How To Host A Successful Virtual House Tour: A Step By Step Guide

virtual-tour-software-coronavirus

Virtual house tours allow buyers to experience home designs before they visit your listing in person. Prospects can explore architecture and home designs in outstanding detail. Similarly, high-performance virtual tour software helps real estate agents leverage online platforms to increase sales and boost their returns on investment (ROI).

virtual-tour-software-coronavirus

Most home buyers use online search to find listings, according to the US National Association of Realtors. The demand for online visuals of a property is driving real estate agencies towards the inclusion of virtual home tours within their services. According to Realtor.com, listings featuring virtual house tours get 87% more views compared to those without virtual tours available. Read on to find out how to host a successful virtual house tour to increase sales and boost ROI.  

What is a virtual house tour?

A virtual house tour is a non-static visual simulation of a property, which allows prospects to experience a 3D walkthrough of the house. It’s a virtual open house system, which allows users to check a listing anytime from anywhere. 

The 3D tour includes still images, videos and audio which are put into a sequence to highlight the features of the property up for sale. Users can move the virtual tour in any direction of the home and rotate the view. 

Types of virtual home tours

Virtual tours come in three forms: 

  • Video walkthroughs
  • Interactive 360-degree tours
  • 3D tours. 

There are many benefits to be gained from using virtual tours when selling homes. A home buyer can explore a virtual open house listing 24/7, for example. Additionally, including a virtual tour on a property listing helps drive conversions. 

During a video walkthrough, the listing agent normally talks about the home’s main selling points and offers a tour of the property. You can create a video tour with a smartphone, or for a more polished result, you can combine high-tech digital equipment with virtual tour software.

The purpose of a 3D virtual house tour is to enable prospects to experience what it might feel like to walk through the property. The tour comprises connected panoramic photos used to make a streaming video. Because the tour is made of static photos, however, the flow from one room to another can feel less natural than a traditional tour. With this in mind, 3D video tours work best as an initial walkthrough for buyers. It helps them get a feel for the property before visiting it in person.

An interactive 360-degree virtual tour delivers an immersive experience to viewers. Normally, a high-resolution special camera is set up in the centre of one of the rooms being showcased. The camera rotates and takes 360-degree photos of the surrounding. The unit uploads the images to virtual tour software and then adds text, links and other interactive content.

Why are they currently in demand?

A video house tour is a powerful tool to promote and sell any kind of property. Video content fosters engagement and delivers results such as shares, click-throughs and increased lead generation. Real estate agencies are using video house tours to increase the exposure of luxury villas, for example, to highlight features and to achieve their bottom line.

The pandemic has changed the business world and how people work. An unprecedented percentage of people are working from their homes. The “stay-at-home” order has led real estate agents to use video content in their listings. It’s how they can continue to showcase homes and make them available to prospects. Open house virtual tours allow social distancing and help prospects experience their future potential homes.

How to host a virtual house tour

You can host virtual house tours in two ways: Organise a live open house session or use a recorded video. For best results, use a combination of both methods. A successful virtual house tour requires efficient planning, promotion and top-quality technology.

Top-quality software and equipment

A top-quality panoramic or 360-degree camera will help you create engaging virtual tours to showcase houses. To ensure that your images and angles align, use a tripod. To deliver efficient virtual tours, choose a high-rated virtual tour software program

Planning your shots

Create a shortlist of the rooms in the luxury house. Place the camera in the centre of each room to highlight the main features. Make sure you can capture each room’s selling points. If the centre of the room doesn’t work for you, find the best spot and mark it.

Prepare every room

Make sure all rooms are stage-ready. Remove all items which are in the way of the lens. The room must be clean, tidy and attractive. Don’t distract prospects from high-value features with clutter.

Prepare the tripod

For uniform images, level the tripod. If the camera doesn’t include a built-in bubble level, search for a levelling tool online. Adjust the legs of the tripod until the bubble is centred.

Test shots and final shots

Go through every room and test each shot. Make the right lighting adjustments and stage the room’s items to achieve top-quality images. Watch out for mirrors, windows, or glass, which may reflect the camera in the image. After you’ve established the correct settings for your camera, move through each room on your list. Set up the camera and take your shots.

Creating your virtual tour

Use top-quality virtual house tour creator to produce the tour by connecting the images. The virtual tour creator will use the static images for 3D virtual tours and the panoramic images for 360-degree virtual tours. Create an engaging user experience by adding hotspots, text and audio. Users can zoom, back up, and automatically change directions.

Promote your tour

Once you’ve finished editing the tour, use the link to embed it on your agency’s website or social media accounts. 

Upload the branded version to your website and social media accounts. You can promote the tour by creating a social media event and linking it to your website. Include a preview of the tour in digital adverts and use strong calls-to-action to collect buyers’ contact details.

Immersing buyers into virtual house tours

Virtual house tours offer an immersive and interactive experience. To deliver a top-quality virtual house tour, agents must plan and use the right equipment and virtual tour creator. 

Virtual tours have helped agents navigate the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing them to continue marketing houses.

Looking for virtual tour software? Check out our catalogue.

8 Sales Motivation Ideas And Techniques To Inspire Your Remote Sales Team

sales motivation ideas

Is your sales department struggling with motivation while working from home? Capterra reveals 8 sales motivation tips from experts in Australia.

sales motivation ideas

8 sales motivation tips to inspire remote sales teams

Lockdown rules may have relaxed a little with the government’s three-stage plan, but many offices remain closed. Most businesses in Australia have been able to continue their operations virtually through the implementation of remote work software. However, there is one thing that is much trickier to replicate from a home environment: Team camaraderie. 

Equipping sales reps with the software they need, such as a quality CRM platform or sales enablement tool, will certainly help drive productivity. However, most sales professionals are used to working off the energy in the room. Working alone can make staying motivated that much harder—especially if business opportunities are slower than usual.

To inspire flagging sales reps, we’ve gathered a list of tips and best practices from a collection of sales leaders already applying them in their own teams.

1. Use slower sales months to facilitate upskilling

The term ‘upskilling’ refers to the process of training staff with further skills to enhance their current capabilities and improve work performance. Sales departments who find themselves less busy than usual should use this time to hone in on the additional skills they need for the bounce back. 

In an office environment, sales managers can work from the same room as their team—giving them visibility over their employee’s skills gaps. When working from home, the opportunity to give spontaneous, in-person guidance isn’t available.

According to Roger Simpson, CEO from The Retail Solution, ‘helping and encouraging team members to grow is a huge motivator for most people, so this needs to continue while they work from home.’

Leaders need to have a conversation about sales training and upskilling with each team member and provide options for online learning as well as challenging team members to take ownership of this process themselves. 

– Roger Simpson, CEO at The Retail Solution

 

 

As well as using traditional online training platforms, team members can join internal mentoring groups, or be assigned an individual mentor to challenge them.

2. Keep conversations flowing with clients

Their ability to spend might be on hold, but it’s important not to allow conversations with clients to stop. If your team is struggling to come up with fruitful conversations with concerned clients, consider what value you could offer them without any kind of monetary transaction. 

One way of doing this is to make your team into a source for industry trends and market movements. This is what DXC Technology’s sales team have been practising during the lockdown.

Reach out to clients to understand how COVID-19 has disrupted their business. By gathering this feedback and analysing it, you can go back to customers with the common themes, prevailing sentiment and questions to keep them better informed on market movements.

– Tom Hammond, Industry Lead at DXC Technology

 

If a marketing department is available, they may also have the time and resources available to run market research too. These activities send a message to clients that you’re there to support them, but they also enable businesses to better align their solutions to the challenges clients are facing.

3. Make time for daily check-ins

More than ever, managers need to ensure they’re regularly checking in with employees and their wellbeing. After all, happy employees make for productive employees. Forbes reported that ‘happy employees are up to 20% more productive than unhappy employees.’ Similarly, Harvard Business Review (HBR) said happiness has an even greater impact on sales teams, raising sales by 37%

CEO of Lawn.com.au, Toby Schulz, suggests that managers should schedule weekly one-on-one time with individual team members. 

It’s crucial to have solo time with your employees. It gives them the chance to genuinely let you know how they’re faring and what areas they may need help with.

– Toby Schulz, CEO at  Lawn.com.au

 

 

A 30-minute window is a sufficient amount of time to problem-solve work issues, but also to lend an ear to their personal challenges. Video conferencing software works well in this instance, as you can hold a conversation face-to-face.

4. Stay connected (& have fun while doing it!)

Be it a birthday cake in the office or a company day out, it’s the small traditions that make staff feel like they’re a valued part of the team. But during times of change and increased stress, it can be easy for the things that help cultivate office culture to become an afterthought. 

According to Capterra research (which was run during the initial stages of Australia’s COVID-19 lockdown response), social connectedness is a prominent issue for staff working from home. This stat highlights why finding opportunities to stay connected is even more crucial for a remote team.

While lockdown rules enable small groups to meet now in public places, a safe space isn’t always available to facilitate an entire team. Additionally, a salesperson may not be isolating in the same location as the rest of the team. 

Here is where managers must be more creative with how they bring their sales team together.

Spend time on virtual team-building exercises, such as trivia, where you can break off into teams and engage inside channels to stimulate the feeling of comradery, even when you can’t physically be together.

– Madison Wappett, Sales Director at MiQ

 

 

With people spending the majority of their workday alone, it’s important to find ways to celebrate another work week together. 

5. Let them find their own work rhythm 

Another communication challenge Capterra’s remote work survey identified was employees experiencing too many digital messages. 27% of employees struggle with an overwhelming amount of information being communicated on their company channels. 

The average person takes about 25 minutes to get back into the swing of things after they’ve been interrupted, according to a study by the University of California Irvine. Disturbances not related to the task employees are working on are more distracting than ones on-topic. 

Considering these findings, it’s easy to see how the seemingly small interruptions could unintentionally take away a large amount of a person’s work day. It’s the role of the sales manager to ensure teams can work at peak productivity. 

According to Stephen Findley, Account Executive at Qwilr, the key to successfully managing a remote team is to allow them to work asynchronously. 

Allow your team to do their jobs uninterrupted for the vast majority of the day. They can then check their team’s collaboration tool for updates when they have a break.

– Stephen Findley, Account Qwilr

 

 

Create space for communication, without people feeling like they need to respond instantly. Managers should also monitor how they deliver key pieces of information to their team. A meeting that could have been an email may have been better spent talking to customers and prospects.

Selecting the right tools for remote communication:

6. Offer the right kind of sales motivation and celebrate wins

According to Brian Kropp from Gartner, celebrating success is even more important during periods of disruption. During change, an employee’s need for recognition increases by 30%. 

There are plenty of ways in which you can reward deserving employees. For example, recognition can be in the form of a monetary bonus, a pay rise or a promotion. These are good examples of extrinsic motivation methods. 

Intrinsic motivation focuses on motivating employees through ways that naturally satisfy them. For example, publicly acknowledging a sales rep lets them know the work they’re producing is meaningful. This is something that Joshua Strawczynski takes into account when managing his remote team at JMarketing.

People are often motivated far more by pride and recognition than they are any monetary reward. A good manager knows this and makes sure to publicly praise their team.

-Joshua Strawczynski, JMarketing

 

 

Positive reinforcement works well as a means to motivate employees in and out of the office. The idea is that it encourages them to continue delivering exceptional work. When a job well done goes unnoticed, it can have the opposite effect: Employees feel unappreciated and unmotivated.

7. Hold inspiration workshops

In our efforts to create rituals to keep sales teams motivated, our routine can sometimes become a little stale. Try mixing it up by bringing in external experts to hold inspiration workshops. 

James Norquay from Prosperity Media has been taking this approach. The objective is to help his reps take inspiration from people who have achieved success against the odds.

Bring in external experts for motivational talks on Zoom (or your company’s alternative). We had a Paralympic Star come on and share inspiring stories with the team. This has been a great way to motivate the team and keep everyone on track whilst working from home.

– James Norquay, Prosperity media

 

Video conferencing software acts as a practical way to host feel-good workshops to motivate flagging teams. 

8. Prepare them for a more flexible future

As Australia works towards a COVID-19 exit strategy, many businesses are beginning to consider what their team’s work environment and interaction will be like in six months. 

Chief Commercial Officer at Salesforce Australia, Ian McAdam, warns businesses that a lack of remote working options could work against them. From a recruitment and staff retention perspective, for example, he says businesses run the risk of losing sales talent to competitors willing to offer this flexibility.

Continuing to provide flexible working arrangements for employees will help maintain a positive culture and assist in retention. We expect retention to increase in importance as the economy regains pace and we enter into a new phase featuring a war for talent”

– Ian McAdam, Salesforce Australia

 

87% of Australian employees want their employer to extend their work-from-home policy after the lockdown ends. Of this number, 54% said they’d prefer a combination of office-based and home working with going to the office, while 33% said they don’t want to go back to the office. 

By making these decisions now, businesses will enable sales teams to work towards and mentally prepare for the next phase of COVID-19. It may also help ease any anxiety about transitioning back to ‘normal life.’

Looking for sales enablement software? Check out our catalogue.

Knowledge Management: A Guide To Knowledge Management & Tools

Knowledge management

Knowledge management is a concept many companies tend to overlook, simply due to a lack of awareness of what it is. It refers to the collating of internal company information to be made available to all departments and employees in one place at the same time.

Knowledge management

Knowledge management tools can be hugely beneficial in streamlining information storage and sharing for businesses, especially those with varied departments that use different tools and resources. 

In this article, we will outline the key advantages of knowledge management and share three of the best software options that deliver on this.

What is a knowledge management tool?

Before we dive in, let’s clarify the nature and function of knowledge management tools. The tool comprises a secure platform which lists all files containing company knowledge: PDFs, videos, procedures, presentations, etc.

A good tool will offer an efficient search engine, the possibility of classifying resources in a logical and structured manner, and different levels of authorisation and access. Some even integrate a text editor to create and modify files natively to avoid multiplying the software used.

The benefits of knowledge management tools

Knowledge management tools are useful for companies and their teams in a number of ways, but here are the main, notable benefits:

Centralise information

Knowledge management fundamentally bridges divides between departments, so everyone can benefit from shared access to the same information. Did you know, according to research, the time employees spend searching for files costs companies on average over AUD$10,000 per employee per year?

Knowledge management tools reduce the time spent desperately searching for that specific PDF file on that specific server. With this tool, all information is in one place and is logically structured. It’s a particular time-saver for employees who, for example, need to respond to customers quickly or track down information from a different department. 

Maintain knowledge acquired over the years

The way you work and the platforms you use within your business naturally evolve along with new trends and technological innovations. At times, employees may be using a version of something that is already out of date until it is updated business-wide. But with knowledge management, all employees have access to the latest version of the same information. This also safeguards from losing information when an employee departs.

Train current employees and newcomers

Knowledge management standardises the development of skills for current employees and the training of new recruits by giving everyone the opportunity to share their knowledge on a single platform. This centralisation and optimisation of knowledge allow teams to train and inform themselves more easily. Permanent access to this increases the learning capacity of newcomers who no longer depend only on training, as well as that of employees who may have changed departments. 

3 knowledge management tools 

We have selected three tools that meet the following criteria:

  • Minimum overall rating of 4/5 on GetApp
  • A high number of reviews
  • Free trial version
  • Proposes knowledge management directly for the internal (the collaborators), not just for the external (the customers).

The software is listed in alphabetical order.

Freshdesk

  • Overall rating: 4.5 / 5 (2,167 reviews)
  • Price: from $30 per user / month

Freshdesk’s knowledge management tool allows for the collecting, accessing and sharing of knowledge within an organisation, regardless of its size. It compiles articles enriched with multimedia content which are shareable in various languages, as well as collects user comments and defines authorisation levels.

It lists the questions and problems most frequently asked by customers and helps to standardise responses. Resolution time is thus reduced and employees can focus on more complex or new tasks. You can also translate a customer email detailing a solution into an article and share with the wider company.

Freshdesk knowledge management tool
Freshdesk Knowledge Base Screen Capture (Source)

Key features:

  • Multimedia content
  • Translation management
  • Reporting
  • Email integration
  • Collecting comments
  • Access control

Read more

SharePoint

  • Overall rating: 4.2 / 5 (2,801 reviews)
  • Price: from $8 per user / month
Microsoft Sharepoint knowledge management
SharePoint screenshot (Source)

SharePoint is Microsoft’s answer to knowledge management. Productivity is at the centre of the tool: the user benefits from practical functionalities such as notifications, approvals and libraries. The content also adapts to the user and offers suggested articles of interest. Plus an advanced and multilingual search function allows you to find information simply and quickly.

Naturally, the tool integrates easily into the Office suite and so allows you to work on the same article from several devices.

Key features:

  • Search engine
  • Collaborative workspace
  • SSL security
  • Classification in categories and subcategories
  • Access control
  • Reporting

Read more

Zendesk

  • Overall rating: 4.4 / 5 (2,365 reviews)
  • Price: from $8 per user / month
Zendesk knowledge management
Zendesk screenshot (Source)

Zendesk offers Zendesk Guide, which you can personalise to your needs: internal knowledge management, IT knowledge base, knowledge management for customer support agents, or FAQ directly accessible by customers.

Designed as a self-service portal, the tool will not only save time and energy but also offer teams the same access to shared information. Employees can, therefore, be more efficient and spend significantly less time on recurring problems, increasing customer satisfaction.

It can also centralise all information relating to human resources, which is a comfort for employees consulting sensitive information.

Key features:

  • Email integration
  • Communication with clients
  • Multimedia content
  • Content history
  • Automatic archiving
  • Access control

Read more

Knowledge management tools provide hugely helpful resources for organisations to centralise information and unify multiple collaborators and departments.

Looking for knowledge management software? Check out our catalogue