It’s stating the obvious to say that COVID-19 has changed the way we’ve been doing business over the past few months. If I’m honest, the pandemic, lockdown and need for immediate change filled me with a not-insignificant amount of trepidation.
In coaching, we primarily work face-to-face. It’s a people-oriented profession and working alongside those people has been seen as the best method for embedding new skills and developing talent. Remote consultations, such as over the phone or via Skype, have usually been considered as an extra, rather than the primary delivery method.
Therefore, it is fair to say I was sceptical about transitioning to primarily remote delivery. I had questions about the technology and whether I could adequately recreate the classroom experience. Would people pay as much attention? Would they consider it to have the same value? Would there be technical complications? A lot of concerns rolled around in my head. It has always been vital for me to feel that people are benefitting from the training I’m delivering. Could remote training really replicate the in-person experience?
Having been delivering remote programmes for several months now, I feel more confident to say that it could. There will always be times when in-person training is better. Larger groups or residential weeks cannot be delivered remotely. Teambuilding is best managed in reality, not virtual reality. Sometimes the key to unlocking somebody’s potential needs an unfiltered training experience.
More and more, however, I see the value of remote learning. The feedback from clients has allayed a number of my initial misgivings. The versatility of Break Out Rooms for roleplay and simulations significantly helps to make the remote experience more dynamic, while polls and chat encourage engagement. The technical challenges we’ve faced have been minimal, and mostly due to nothing more than a temporary blip in a delegate’s internet connection. Even these have been easy to overcome, as we can record sessions to view later.
Moving forward, I could see remote training have increasingly practical applications. Bite-sized sessions are not only more environmentally friendly, but they are also more cost-effective for both the client and me. Businesses need no longer set aside whole days for some training sessions when smaller groups could be managed in a more staggered manner. Productivity will only increase as courses need no longer be as intrusive on a delegate’s time. If several delegates are unavailable due to unforeseen circumstances, it’s not as problematic as it is with in-person. We have been able to provide additional follow-up sessions quickly, ensuring nobody is left behind in their training journey.
As I write this, sitting in a room on a hot day, I’m reminded of those times a group of us have sat in an uncomfortable office in the middle of summer. While we might not be able to cool down everybody’s home, there is an additional comfort factor in being able to work with an iced-latte and a nearby desk fan. People always work better and learn more, when they’re comfortable.
Our brand new LMS allows us to create supplemental materials, such as pre-work and post-work, to add even more value by challenging and developing people beyond the sessions themselves. We can even better tailor our post-session development work more to the individual, delivering additional learning materials that take into account a person’s needs and goals. Our LMS allows us to see, at a glance, how our delegates are progressing, where they thrive and where they struggle. We can evaluate an entire group’s understanding of the materials and deliver our findings confidently to business leaders. Combined with our E-Learning Platform, we can offer additional low-cost training courses, on-demand, to our clients ensuring a steady stream of valuable materials to facilitate success.
Although we found ourselves in this position out of necessity, by forcing us to confront the limitations of the way things have always been done means that we can now confidently find new ways to do the same thing. In-person training will always have its place in the coaching world, but I am not ashamed to say that I have transitioned from sceptic to believer over these past few months. I truly believe that, in time, remote training may no longer be delivered out of necessity, but become the default for a lot of programmes.