If you are transitioning into a virtual, online learning environment for the first time, chances are that it’s probably taking some adjustments acclimating to a new setting of learning.

As online and remote learning becomes increasingly prevalent, we gathered tips and tricks for success directly from members of HubSpot's full-time remote community as well as trainers and designers on HubSpot’s Learning & Development team that support our remote training and onboarding experiences for new employees.

Here's what they had to say:

Your mindset and attitude matter.

Photo by Motoki Tonn on Unsplash

Remember that this is new for everyone!

"Most of your other classmates, and even most of the facilitators, are going to be new to virtual classrooms. It’s okay if you’re feeling a little uncomfortable eating a snack on camera, having your roommate/partner walk by in the background, or being in a sweatshirt. Everyone is navigating a new situation, so own the fact that this is new and everyone is a bit out of their comfort zone."

—Jill Noonan, Product Trainer, HubSpot

Quell the fear and anxiety.

"This may be new for you, it is also a new normal that we are all working to adjust to while the world is in flux. Even those accustomed to working from home by choice can feel overwhelmed by the concept of not being able to leave home. Take solace in knowing that we are all in this together, and you are not alone in this. To quiet the anxiety, try some mindfulness to be present and more in tune with what you need in the moment."

—Elle Fening, Remote Inbound Success Coach, HubSpot

Energy level is up.

"The learning experience is only going to be as good as the energy you put into it. If you are doing the emoji eye roll 🙄throughout the day, the learning experience is not going to be fun. So, roll with the ice breakers. Answer questions when they are posed to the group. Be a leader in participating. You will get out as much as you put in."

—Ryan Pinette, Customer Success Trainer, HubSpot

Set your workspace.

Workspace

Find a comfortable and productive work environment. Claim your space.

"While you may be juggling roommates, partners, children or others in your home environment, it can be incredibly helpful to claim an area in which you will work and learn. Whether this be a desk, table, countertop, or a special chair, designate this as your workspace and communicate to others what you need to maintain focus in this space. While working in bed might seem like a great idea, I do not recommend it. Put in the effort to at least move to the floor or another area where you can keep your energy levels and attention up to better retain information."

—Meghan Castillo, Remote Learning Experience Designer, HubSpot

"While your couch or bed are going to look very appealing to work from over the next few months, do your best to create a workspace that is comfortable and productive. Sit at your desk, your kitchen table, or anywhere else that you find to be productive."

—Jill Noonan, Product Trainer, HubSpot

Eliminate distractions.

"The temptation to pick up your phone, turn on your TV, (The Office is on Comedy Central all day, right!?), or get up and make a snack during a class are going to be at an all time high now that you’re home. Do yourself a favor and mute text notifications, keep your TV off, and get something to eat/drink before a class starts. Treat this situation as if you’re physically in the room with your facilitator and classmates."

—Jill Noonan, Product Trainer, HubSpot

Best Practices for Participating in Class

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Have your camera on.

"First and foremost, have your camera on. It holds you accountable to be alert and present but also creates a better environment with your classmates."

—Ryan Pinette, Customer Success Trainer, HubSpot

"Don’t be afraid to have your camera on during video conferencing so that you can have a more authentic dialogue with others."

—Elle Fening, Remote Inbound Success Coach, HubSpot

Unmute yourself (as long as it’s okay with your facilitator).

"Most people think as soon as they get on a virtual training, they should mute themselves ('what if someone hears me breathing?!') Jumping on and muting yourself immediately creates the experience that you’re only here to listen (and probably zone out) instead of participate in a discussion. If everyone is unmuted (besides folks with actual loud background noise), it will help break down the barrier and let the facilitator and class know that you’re there to participate."

—Jill Noonan, Product Trainer, HubSpot

Engage when prompted.

"Everyone is waiting for someone else to come off mute to give an answer. Don't be afraid to jump in and answer — don't take over and dominate the discussion though. Leave room for other learners. It's a delicate balance. And if the chat functionality is being used, voice your opinion; that's what it's there for. Don't assume someone else is going to."

—Ryan Pinette, Customer Success Trainer, HubSpot

Don't be afraid to ask questions.

"While your teacher/trainer may be lecturing or going through the material, it may feel rude to interrupt them — but act like you're in an in-person learning environment. If you would raise your hand in person, raise your virtual hand or come off mute to ask the question. Better yet, before you start into a training, ask what the preferred method is for questions from the facilitator:

  • Coming off mute and just asking?
  • Putting it in the chat?
  • Using a hand raise function?

Knowing ahead of time puts everyone on the same page."

—Ryan Pinette, Customer Success Trainer, HubSpot

Connect more than you are used to.

"There are also other means of connecting virtually with team members, and it may take some creativity to find the secret sauce to your self-expression in this new medium. Emojis, Bitmojis, GIFs and memes go a long way in conveying tone and personality. Because you may be connecting with classmates virtually for the first time, too, it may be good to filter your communications through something like a tone analyzer to make sure that your message is clear."

—Elle Fening, Remote Inbound Success Coach, HubSpot

Stay connected outside of the classroom.

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Make an extra effort to engage with classmates outside the learning space.

"We do it at HubSpot through Slack channels but whatever your comms methods are, continue the conversations. Think of when you were in a traditional classroom setting when the bell would ring, there were still some essential nuggets of wisdom or questions shared. Is there a space virtually that we can still make this happen? Chat room, Slack, group text, WhatsApp. Again, trying to recreate all the essential elements of in-person learning in a virtual space."

—Ryan Pinette, Customer Success Trainer, HubSpot

Collaborate virtually.

"Just as you might study or review course materials with a group, think of ways to leverage technology to share notes or even meet virtually. Google Docs is a great way to organize and share documents. You can collaborate in documents, add comments and edit details. You can also bring your meetings online using Google Hangouts or Zoom. Don’t be afraid to be the first one in your group to suggest meeting over video or sharing documents, others will probably be relieved at the offer. Working together will benefit everyone."

—Meghan Castillo, Remote Learning Experience Designer, HubSpot

Set yourself up for success.

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Create a routine.

"It can be all too easy to sit in one location and work for hours on end. We encourage you to establish a routine while working from home. This includes:

  • Waking up around the same time
  • Maintaining your normal hygiene practices
  • Getting outside for fresh air (while adhering to the CDC guidelines of social distancing)
  • Scheduling time for work and study with adequate breaks in-between

The Pomodoro method is a really helpful technique you can use where you set a timer to work/study for about 45 minutes (with no distractions - no social media, no cleaning the kitchen, TV or other), then take a 15 minute break, then repeat."

—Meghan Castillo, Remote Learning Experience Designer, HubSpot

"Since you won’t be commuting the way you’re used to, stopping by the local coffee shop or waiting in long lines, you now have the opportunity and time to create your very own rituals and conventions. Some love starting their day with a shower, dancing to their favorite music, putting on their favorite shirt, makeup if you like, crafting the perfect pour over… Create routines that are repeatable and that make you happy and healthy so that you can feel in control of your day."

—Elle Fening, Remote Inbound Success Coach, HubSpot

Set boundaries.

"Since you are in a new scenario that is asking for you to engage with people, news, and current events in a new way, you may find yourself plugged in more than usual. Setup guidelines for yourself, maybe limit screen time to certain apps that are not bringing you joy and reassess these if need be. Set timers for how long you will watch the news and choose your sources wisely so that the information you are getting will keep you healthy."

—Elle Fening, Remote Inbound Success Coach, HubSpot

Create and set goals.

"Set goals for yourself around what you’ll accomplish and by when. It can be easier to stick to these rather than a set amount of working time per day. Work backwards from what you need to accomplish to break this into smaller tasks that you can space out as needed. Hold yourself accountable by tracking this in a calendar or app."

—Meghan Castillo, Remote Learning Experience Designer, HubSpot

"Since you may not be able to accomplish everything in one day, consider setting small goals each day that will ultimately contribute to larger goals. This refers to both personal and professional accomplishments - set yourself up for success by creating goals that advance your physical and mental wellness. By refreshing yourself, your creativity and productivity will be restored."

—Elle Fening, Remote Inbound Success Coach, HubSpot

Originally published Mar 30, 2020 4:30:30 PM, updated March 30 2020