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The Digital Renaissance

Hands-on Training at Arm’s Length: Finding Success by Going Remote

Prior to March 2020, very few businesses preferred to do things remotely. You worked on projects in the office at your desk; you collaborated with colleagues face-to-face; and whenever education or training was required, you were almost always required to be there in person — because, the belief was, there was no substitute for face-to-face time with the instructor.

A silver lining of the Covid pandemic regarding training is that it revealed remote collaboration and hands-on training can be as effective as in-person sessions — with the proper planning and execution. Not only that, but in the case of remote training, it’s far more cost-effective (an extra win for any business).

So . . . if it’s more convenient, costs less, and can deliver equal value . . . why is there still a fair amount of reticence around remote training versus in-person? In a word, marketing. In two words, myth making. Especially by providers looking for the higher margins they think can be gained by in-person training.

Let’s explore — and debunk— some of the myths around remote training.

Myth #1: Personal interaction is only possible in-person

This is absolutely true . . . if it’s still the 90s, which it’s not. With online meeting and presentation tools like Teams, Google Meet, and Zoom — and, additionally, the widespread growth of more stable wireless systems —remote training has the potential to feel and behave just as personal and interactive as an in-person classroom.

Gamifying trainings by leveraging survey apps and similar tools to do real-time quizzes, utilizing virtual breakout rooms, and taking advantage of in-app whiteboard tools and screensharing features, are just a handful of ways a session can be brought to life.

Not only do these tools create more ways for trainers to connect with students, but they provide a space where learning can be recorded and re-accessed as needed, providing a meaningful takeaway with the added benefit that they are learning in the same space they will continue to work long after the training is over – their laptop.

Myth #2: You can’t do hands-on from arm’s length

For any kind of training where students need to access a software solution, it was once thought that a trainer needed to be right there, over the shoulder, showing them what keys to press in order to be successful. Simply not true. Granted, there are some types of training where it’s in-person or nothing: you’re not going to learn how to operate construction equipment or perform CPR through Zoom.

But for business technology, remote training is a far more sensible choice as most of the trainees will be using the technology remotely on the job, on the same laptop they attended training from, once training is over. By leading training in a space where they can record the session, post links, save screenshots, and share documents, instructors and trainees build a reference library together through their interactions, which they can return to when they need assistance down the line.

Provided the instruction is being done live and not via self-paced eLearning — giving students the opportunity for real-time Q&A — remote training is far more advantageous as it’s taking place within each trainee’s working context, usually right at the same home office workstation where they perform their day-to-day tasks.

Myth #3: remote training has too many distractions

Does the trainee in the home office have more opportunities to be distracted than the one in the workplace? We’d be lying if we said no. But think about any in-person meeting you’ve been in since 2007 (the year the iPhone dropped). How many people were paying attention to the speaker and how many to their phones? Distraction happens everywhere.

One client-favorite solution is hybrid remote learning. In this setup all trainees are on-site and in the same classroom together while the trainer is virtual. Typically, this service delivers the same value (both educational and financial) as fully remote training, while addressing concerns of trainees “checking out” during sessions.

To make this method of vILT (virtual instructor-led training) successful, trainers plan for a client-side SME or Facilitator to be present in the room where all trainees are together. This is less about having someone play proctor or cop with trainees, and more about ensuring clients feel comfortable and therefore more engaged, and also provides an extra set of eyes and ears on the pulse of the classroom for the remote trainer.

Regardless, in any training setup — fully remote (where all attendees tune in from remote locations), hybrid remote, or in-person — we recommend having a client-side SME present to give learners access to a leader they already know and are comfortable asking questions to (rather than a random outside trainer). Additionally, it is critical to have a voice present who can speak to the business changes at-hand in contrast to the consultant trainer who only speaks solely to the technical how-to.

The immediate and lasting value of remote training

In the end, it’s an organizational choice to have business systems training done on-site or remotely. But — in terms of immediate value: i.e., cost savings — remote training comes out on top as there is no travel (for teams or trainers), and fewer logistics to manage. Not to mention ancillary costs (lunch anyone?).

There’s value to be had in the long run, too, when choosing to go remote. As the training was likely done on the same laptops and devices remote employees use for work, training has been delivered in a context that’s more “sticky.” Trainees can save digital training materials right on their desktop, rather than, say, store printed materials on the floor of their cars, and they can return to meeting chats or recordings if they need to return to a demo or discussion point.

For more questions about how Argano delivers remote and hybrid virtual training, simply contact us.