In the age of disruption, businesses live and die by their ability to adopt. The force of change has not spared corporate spaces especially on the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. As employees are fearful of their health and that of their loved ones, many operations have taken a back seat with business owners scrambling to invent new survival techniques for their enterprises.
The need for corporate training to equip them with survival skills for the good of their organizations has never been this high. However archetypal training tactics may not be effective in yielding return on investment to most businesses.
Not too long-ago corporate training mainly featured instructional face to face lectures bursting with verbose presentations with too many slides. The need to cover a lot of content while spending minimal resources meant an increase in contact hours and fast paced instruction leaving minimal time for attendees to understand the content. Little behavior change is achieved this way.
Expenses incurred in travelling, setting up workshop spaces, food and beverage costs, sitting allowances, specialist fees and other miscellaneous costs required dedicated budgets and resource allocation. Today’s economic situation leaves many businesses with scarce resources and the expenses associated with traditional corporate training are luxury many cannot afford. The Covid-19 pandemic has also necessitated the reduction of face to face training.
The quagmire here may be solved by making corporate training virtual, if done right. Despite some trainers worrying about the interpersonal touch lost online and the low knowledge on technology use, circumstances in today’s corporate space have made virtual training evolve from a trend into a necessity.
Adopting Corporate virtual training can reap benefits like increasing convenient collaboration and consistent content delivery. Online meeting platforms have enabled trainers to tailor content in a way that is convenient. 10-hour training sessions may easily be broken down into 2 hour sessions to be completed over 5 days with links to access the sessions being shared out to attendees. At the facilitator’s discretion, attendees can record sessions and use them for future reference.
Online virtual training will save your organization costs previously associated with traditional training. Most online platforms are tailored to have pocket friendly subscription plans that can be evenly spread out to accommodate the user. Some feature trials that can be canceled should they not satisfy the user’s needs.
For example, Zoom, a virtual conferencing platform has plans that range from free accounts to premium plans that enable the user to unlimited breakout rooms and brainstorming virtual whiteboards at a cost of sh.4900 per month.
Different apps offer different solutions to different needs. List your goals, priorities and expenditure research on the apps that best accommodate them online. Examples of apps include Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet (for webinars and online meetings), Trello, Slack, Outlook and Asana (ideal for communication and task allocation) and Kahoot!, Google Forms (ideal for assessment) among others. These apps are just a tip of the iceberg on online collaboration.
However, engaging in virtual corporate training is not a bed of roses. Simply setting up an online meeting with a power point and sharing the link hoping people will attend the session is not enough. As a corporation adopts it, a few of the following challenges are bound to emerge.
Firstly, the lack of face to face interaction is a common listed issue relating to remote working by clients. This is more pronounced in corporates whose primary mode of training was heavily influenced by synchronous classroom models of learning. Many business owners worry that learners will not study as hard without personal supervision from facilitators in an online platform. Other managers are concerned about reduced access to ‘over-the-shoulder’ instructor support and communication.
The fear of social isolation is another common concern over remote working. Majority of employees are uncomfortable with the lack of social interactions in a virtual setting. The fear that a lack of physical interactions may reduce team synergy in learning and result delivery makes many shy away from adopting online training.
A well planned and run virtual training session will incorporate active engagement and collaboration. Creatively drafting engagement sessions will foster interpersonal interactions and boost team synergy. A lack of inclusion in spaces where participants can communicate will lead to them feeling less engaged, decreasing the feeling of belonging in an organization and escalating feelings of isolation.
Dira HR personnel have been involved in facilitating such sessions and are available to help you organize virtual training sessions that will leave all participants happy and satisfied, eliminating feelings of isolation and anxiety.
Virtual corporate training is less forgiving of distractions. Employees maybe accessing it from home, but ultimately it is a learning session and a 100% focus is more of a necessity than it is a nicety. Facilitators must engage their trainees to ensure that they have a dedicated, quiet workspace before allowing them to work remotely. Trainees should be motivated to commit to a non-negotiable training time to handle this.
There is no way to guarantee trainers that technical issues when running virtual sessions won’t be experienced. A great number of things can go wrong and as Murphy’s law guarantees, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. An issue like unstable internet connection on the facilitator’s device can lead to a failure of the event, wasting the time and resources invested in executing the training session. Other issues like software and platform malfunctions, difficult to access sessions and a lack of knowledge on usage of online collaboration tools can make the training environment uncomfortable. (insert statistics on knowledge use, touch on the internet knowledge gap).
There is much that one could do to navigate the challenges presented by adopting online virtual training. An important place to begin would be to engage in effective planning and organizing of the virtual training sessions correctly. The following are some suggested techniques as obtained from research by our team.
Choose a training model that suits your needs
To begin with, feel free to move away from archetypal online meetings as the sole method of virtual training as preferred by the majority. There are various methods of learning that can be adopted to produce result-oriented training. Examples include;
- Synchronous Training
This includes sessions where all learners are participating simultaneously. This can be online or offline. Instructor led sessions your organizations has held before most likely fall into this category. The learning is time dependent since there is a single time slot in which it can happen. It is therefore up to the facilitator to engage participants and plan for a time that is mutually beneficial to the participants. Examples of situations incorporating this model include live classroom sessions, on the job training, live streams on media and webinars on platforms like zoom and google meet.
While this approach provides opportunity for a better feedback loop and improves the chance to build a community, it tends to be expensive since it is time intensive and requires accurate planning for all attending stakeholders to be available. You can learn more on this model of learning here.
- Asynchronous training
Learning here contrasts the model above in that it is self-paced. Attendees do not need to be on the same online learning space at the same time. Thanks to internet growth and creative content, it can be run instructor free with most learning being video based training. The instructor is mostly involved in assessment or as a contact resource to answer questions online.
Adopting this training technique requires discipline and commitment to deadlines. Techniques like input on course completion status, score and assessment are effective in encouraging participation. Blogs, online reading resources, training videos and dedicated e-learning platforms are among some content delivery tactics that can be employed.
Pocket friendliness, the ability to be tailored to fit organizational culture and policy and its flexibility are among the main benefits that come with adopting asynchronous learning. Navigating issues on trainee engagement and feedback will make this model effective for your business. You can learn more on this model here.
- Blended Training
Blended training incorporates elements of both the synchronous and asynchronous approaches to create tailor-made virtual learning solutions. This approach is ideal because of its flexibility. For example, a training session can feature recorded videos and learning material for them to consume at their own time and incorporate live sessions with the facilitator for a discussion on questions and follow ups. Live sessions can also be incorporated here to facilitate interactions and interpersonal relationship development. Trainees choose the time and place for self-study while the pace is regulated by an instructor and a schedule of classroom activities.
Adopting this mode of training will require careful planning to ensure a balanced input between the synchronous and the asynchronous model. You can learn more about the training approach here.
Our team is available to help you choose the best training model that will deliver solutions to your organization.
Invest in the necessary tools
Once you have identified the best fit training model, it is advisable that you invest in the correct tools to make virtual trainings in your organization effective. As a minimum, ensure that the tools you choose to deliver training can screen share, remotely access each another’s devices, send messages, exchange files and easily broadcast to large groups of passive viewers.
Incorporate a blended array of platforms to deliver content effectively. Incorporate virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, Google Meet and Skype among others with Virtual Classrooms like that can be set up on your website to facilitate engagement with trainees.
You can invest in a learning management system to execute virtual training sessions as well. It will reduce the hard work involved in inviting attendees to remote sessions, assigning learning materials and tracking results. Depending on the training approach you choose, investing in the learning management system will enable you to tailor training sessions that fit your organization culture and operation contexts.
For example, onboarding processes with new employees could be made easier here by accessing classes about your products and services, standard business procedure at the click of a button from anywhere in the globe. This will equip them with knowledge and skills that will enable them to deliver once they get projects assigned to them. Contact our team to consult on how to set up such systems.
To create the digital content that can be uploaded on the learning management system, an array of e-learning authoring tools can be used. They can range from simple software like Microsoft Word for written articles to complicated software like Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Premier for infographics and videos.
Incorporating the right tools will increase content engagement levels. Invest in making sure your virtual training platform is optimized to make it run on remote learning devices or browsers. This will reduce technical issues associated with accessibility. Our team will also help you pick out ideal platform that you can use to tailor your content to meet your needs.
Prepare your learning material
This phase is influenced by the type of approach you choose. Should you want the training to take a synchronous approach, you will need to engage with the trainer to create presentations and reference materials to accompany them to insert into live webinar training sessions.
Opting for an asynchronous approach will prompt you to create e-learning courses with reading material, videos and follow up quizzes to test information retention. Blended approaches will necessitate all these types of material. You can incorporate some other content to make the training sessions more interactive. They include polls, surveys and assessments to gauge progressive trainee attitudes.
Draft an Effective Training Schedule
A well thought out training schedule will ensure that anyone who needs it to take the learning can access it at the agreed time conveniently. A consistent and transparent training schedule will increase attendance as employees will prioritize it when adopting it into their schedules. Ensure that your calendar is holistic and organized with attendance reports and to do lists organized into a single tab.
Create a pre-session training list
To aid in effective training, a checklist or agenda will ensure that you do not forget any essential areas you wanted covered. Understand that sometimes running normal business operations and managing online sessions is a big responsibility and sometimes the facilitator may feel overwhelmed and easily forget important issues to be addressed.
Create and Define a back up support process
As aforementioned, technical issues may inhibit your chances of efficiently delivering your sessions. At a minimum, have a member of IT support team prepared, available and on-call. Brainstorm on procedures to be followed in the event of a serious technical issue. Inform your trainees and the facilitator on the procedure to be followed incase of a failure before the training starts.
Ensure access is easy and simple
An important step not to forget is to ensure that the training session is clearly communicated and easily accessible. We recommend that you send an email a few days beforehand with the virtual session link. Test it out to ensure that it works. Include images and if possible, a screenshot of the virtual classroom.
Ensure that logging in is easy. During the session, have a facilitator who will help out attendees who have questions, concerns or may not be keeping up with the pack.
Have an orientation session
On the day of the training, begin the session with a session to establish housekeeping rules. Explain to your learners what is expected of them in order to participate effectively. Take them through the platforms and explain functions that are available to them.
Set up methods to reward employees for participating in the session. You could have certifications that award them for motivation purposes. Include games or quizzes in between sessions to keep engagement high. Software like Kahoot! can be used to facilitate this and test their retention.
Let the attendees know how they can access you. We recommend that you schedule check-ins to discuss concerns, address issues, give assignments or review should any of the attendees wish to connect with you.
Lastly, keep monitoring employee performance to ensure that you get Return on Investment.
Virtual Corporate Training offers opportunity to engage employees conveniently and safely, more so in today’s scenario where face to face interactions are discouraged. Consistent corporate training will ensure that your human capital is well equipped to deal with various situations.
At Dira HR Solutions, we are committed to take you through every step in your journey to adopting Virtual Corporate Training and make it effective and efficient for your business. We work hand in hand with out clients to conduct training need analysis, formulate comprehensive training strategies and manage end to end training sessions.
Visit our website and get in touch with us to identify Virtual Corporate Training strategies
that will meet your needs.
Article by Brian Kasiu