Social distancing has become the norm in many parts of the world, impacting the way that companies operate from day to day. Organisations are regularly being encouraged to devise new plans, which include addressing the need for social distancing, staggered work shifts, downsizing operations, and delivery services.
Furthermore, it is being recommended that organisations minimising contact among workers, clients and customers by replacing face-to-face meetings with virtual communications and implementing teleworking where feasible. This has significantly impacted the training and development environment.
As training and development professionals scrambled to adapt, we saw the need to address the way that we designed and delivered courses and the way that instructors interact with participants. Instructor-led training (ILT) has been the standard for so long that we saw a need to reskill in order to become proficient with remote meeting and training platforms. Of course, when preparing a virtual training session, a discerning trainer recognises the need to incorporate more interaction: More question-and-answer sessions, more engaging visual aids, more videos, more polls, and more breakout sessions are important ways to stay connected with participants. Effective trainers also keep in mind the need to provide regular breaks and avoid the distraction of being an “apologizer” every time the technology doesn’t cooperate. When instructors apologize up front for their unfamiliarity with the platform they’re using, learners may start watching for mistakes and could miss the substance of the presentation.
When ILT isn’t possible, instructors may have to offer more sessions to accommodate the smaller class numbers required for social distancing. They may also have to change the way they position themselves in the classroom. Instructors can no longer approach students with close physical proximity, so they will need to work to be more engaging.
Embracing New Technologies
Training professionals have typically been at the forefront of embracing new technologies. In a post-COVID-19 workplace, it will be even more important for them to do so. The Training Process Framework organizes training functions and processes into four functional groups: administration, content, delivery and technology.
It’s time to focus on technology:
Then, consider your content:
Virtual training should always be direct and to the point to engage learners and keep their attention.
Could the next significant event in the evolution of the training industry be the post-pandemic era? The answer remains to be seen, but if so, the effect of this era would be the normalising of remote and virtual training and a renewed focus on the importance of technical aptitude for training professionals. The training and development field is evolving. Adaptation is necessary for our survival.