One thing I’ve learned over the last few weeks as our organization has scrambled to make sense of the current pandemic and its ramifications is that every other organization I’ve talked to is doing the same – trying to figure out how to enable and effectively manage an entirely virtual workforce that is freaked out about their lives, kids, and jobs. Employees are trying to figure out how to get their work done and (hopefully) thrive in this weird limbo before they can safely return to work. Here’s how investing in virtual training now can ease that transition and help you emerge from this trying time stronger than ever.
4 Reasons to Take a Virtual Training Class This Month
1. Meet and learn from new people
While it’s not exactly the same as sitting across the lunch table from someone at an event, virtual training bridges the isolation gap; you’ll get to know people from other organizations with whom you can exchange ideas and perspectives – and simply feel a bit less alone in your struggles. Even if you’re an introvert like me, we need human interaction, especially now. I get to know all of the students in the classes I teach and, because we’re all working from home, they get a chance to meet my dogs, Lana and Maggie, and my cat, Oscar (who you can see here trying to teach the class); and I get to meet their pets, kids, you name it. It’s a very personal experience that gives us a real sense of community.
2. Gain new knowledge
Every training course I’ve attended over the years has left me with at least one new, actionable thing I can use in my life (and I’m a pretty tough cookie having been a trainer for the past 13 years or so). Many times, I walk away truly valuing that piece of knowledge and using it regularly. That’s exactly what we aim to do in all of our classes – not just teach people enough to pass an exam (if it’s a course with an exam at the end), but to equip workforces with the skills and knowledge necessary to take their organizations to the next level. There is nothing quite like having a lightbulb go off in your head, especially at a time like this.
3. Put ideas into action
The way organizations work will undoubtedly change and now is the time to learn about new ways of working. A training class is pretty magical in facilitating this shift, as it provides creative, new ideas and has the ability to change hearts, minds, and morale. It allows you to take your brain out “out of the house” at least for a short while and learn some practical, actionable ideas that you can bring back to your teams and overall organization. A great learning experience can reenergize you; and everyone wants a workforce coming back to the office that’s excited and engaged.
4. Have access to more classes than ever
Social distancing has led many training providers to offer their courses virtually, and we’re no exception. Though we’ve been teaching virtual classes for several years, we’ve fully transitioned all of our in-person training classes across the country to virtual offerings. With the geographical barriers removed and no need to travel more than about 20 feet to attend a class, there’s never been more opportunity to attend a class from the comfort of your home (except some of these poor people or this poor woman having to build her desk).
Questions to Ask Virtual Training Organizations
How do you find a valuable virtual training experience? Classroom training does not translate to a virtual format easily or quickly. It takes thought, creativity, and a variety of purpose-built tools to make the experience engaging and effective. The last thing our students want to do is listen to someone talk at a bunch of slides or read verbatim from a textbook. Here are some questions to ask when looking for a virtual training class to ensure you end up with one of the good ones:
How long has your organization been teaching virtual classes, and can you send me some testimonials from these classes?
Don’t take a class from an organization that’s teaching classes virtually for the first time. You don’t want to have to deal with unnecessary technology issues or subject yourself to a boring class because the instructor hasn’t experimented with or gotten comfortable with the tools necessary to make the learning experience fun.
Can you send me a bio of the instructor?
This is really important to make sure you’re learning from an expert and experienced trainer. You may even want to do some light Linkedin stalking to learn a bit about their background.
What is the virtual experience going to be like?
Your learning experience will be a lot more fun and impactful if they can tell you a bit about the virtual classroom experience. If they say, “We use x tool and have slides and activities”, you probably don’t want to spend your money on that class. If, however, they say things like “We believe in and use lots of interactive, brain-based learning techniques with no more than 20 minutes of lecture at a time” and mention things like interactive whiteboards, breakout rooms, virtual sticky note walls, etc. you’re probably in for a compelling class.
What happens if I’m not happy with the virtual class?
This is also an important question to ask. You may have asked all of the questions above and still gotten yourself signed up for a class that turns out to be I’d-rather-be-ironing-my-clothes-right-now boring. Should you find yourself in this unfortunate position, it’s important to know what training organization’s policy is for refunds, credits, rescheduling with a different instructor or for a later in-person class, what-have-you.
What does the exam process look like?
Now that classes are being delivered virtually, if your class comes with an exam, be sure to ask about how that process works. Make sure you receive an exam voucher as part of the course and that it’s not an extra, hidden cost. If the training organization offers an “exam pass guarantee” make sure you understand the fine print and that it’s the same as what you would receive with an in person offering.
Resilience I’ve Seen in These Uncertain Times
Let me leave you with a few last thoughts: What I’ve also seen in this time is the ability of people to rise up, work harder than ever to achieve something larger than themselves, and show tremendous kindness and compassion both to themselves and those around them. I was reading on Twitter tonight (as I find myself spending more time on my laptop than ever before) a discussion about how people were paying their hairdressers to not dye their hair (I, for one, will not fare well over the next several weeks without a hairdresser), paying house cleaners not to clean their house, and buying restaurant gift certificates or ordering takeout food, all in an effort to help the small businesses and individuals hurting the most right now.
Support a Small Business by Taking a Virtual Class
My request for you, dear reader, is similar – to continue to support small businesses while sharpening your skills at the same time. We want to keep providing world class virtual courses and cannot do it without your help. If you have training budget, a desire to learn, and some time to spare, we’d love to have you in one of our virtual classes. Thank you so much, and happy learning!