About a year ago, I caught up with an old friend who is the COO of a finance company. He wanted to pick my brain about virtual training and how to get the founding director’s buy-in to establish consistent remote working for his team.
At the time, he seemed to be encountering a lot of push-back. There was definitely a lack of trust there in employees being able to perform at optimum levels via virtual means without considerable IT measures being put in place first.
I bet many of you have heard or raised these objections to virtual working yourselves. That is, before the Coronavirus changed everything.
In the past 2-3 months, organisations have been forced to reinvent themselves and reshape their ways of working in response to the Coronavirus. Remote working rapidly became the norm, even for enterprises with tens of thousands of employees, despite IT departments saying this would take years prior to COVID-19.
And yes, you guessed it: my CEO friend is no longer receiving any push-back from the founding Director.
Virtual and remote working is the new normal
Everybody is now comfortable with the idea of remote working. This is the new normal. The Coronavirus pushed us into this space and, now that we’re here, organisations need to take advantage of three things:
- New opportunities that previously didn’t exist;
- Reshaping the workforce based on the way they have adapted to remote working; and
- The innovation and quick thinking that emerged within teams during the initial changes – for example, developing new contactless products and services.
Organisations in every country in the world have undergone massive change, and there’s no going back. Because of that, we now have a new challenge: how do we harness the power of virtual training to re-skill the workforce, ensuring they can reinvent themselves and optimise their performance in a virtual world?
At the start of this month, global business consultancy McKinsey warned organisations: “To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start re-skilling their workforces now”.
Before the pandemic, we were already identifying skills gaps within the workforce and technology-based disruption, like AI and automation. But now, the question of re-skilling employees has become urgent. As McKinsey notes, “This dynamic is about more than remote working—or the role of automation and AI. It’s about how leaders can re-skill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era.”
Two important types of training at the moment are:
- Communications skills (to ensure teams can engage and motivate even in a virtual world), and
- Adaptive leadership (allowing leaders to build resilience, manage large-scale change and make decisions in times of uncertainty).
We are currently delivering both of these training programs online and in a ‘live’ virtual environment.
Ok, but is virtual training effective?
Good question. We know – because you’ve told us – that your biggest challenge right now is “engagement in the virtual environment”. In fact, roughly half of L&D professionals, when asked as part of our recent webinar series, specifically mentioned engagement as their primary problem.
This is a valid concern. Engagement and energy have always been a major consideration in training. And now, the virtual environment has made it even more challenging. We design our virtual training with energy and engagement at the heart. Utilising as many tools for interaction and collaboration as possible. Utilise elements such as breakout rooms, polls, chat box, virtual white boarding and screen share to provide a more dynamic experience.
A highly engaged participant in the virtual classroom will sustain their learnings more easily, which yields greater ROI for the employers. Quality virtual training is highly effective. We know this because we have been doing it for years.
So, what are the benefits of virtual training (done properly)?
Virtual training, if done right, has the potential to leave traditional face-to-face training in the dust in terms of ROI. After all, it means:
- Less time out the office
- It’s sustainable (less travel involved)
If organisations can overcome the hurdle of engagement, they can expect all the benefits of their specific training program, plus the financial and time advantages associated with online delivery. In fact, one of the benefits of virtual communications skills training is that it can provide participants with concrete, actionable engagement-boosting tips, which can then be used to great effect in other virtual training scenarios, as well as internal or customer-facing video meetings.
Where do we go from here? 6 tips for rapidly re-skilling your teams
- Identify skills gaps in your post-COVID business model
- Start with the teams that will benefit most in terms of ROI
- Execute tailored training to solve specific problems (no one-size-fits-all approach)
- Manage upwards, expressing the importance of training right now
- Research and invest in best-in-class virtual training
- Continue to push the envelope, test and adjust
If you’re ready to press ‘go’ on re-skilling at your organisation, learn more about Colin James Method live virtual training methods we are using to upskill leaders globally. Our NPS score for virtual deliveries is 100+ and a recent participant and Senior Director believes it “worked very well to create team spirit”.
The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.