11 surprising benefits of virtual training

An image of a women in a bright coworking space, smiling as she looks towards her laptop screen. This image represents the benefits of virtual training.

Virtual training, also known as VILT (Virtual Instructor-Led Training) is on the increase with over 86% of organisations either already using VILT or planning to do so soon. VILT replicates a face-to-face (F2F) learning workshop in an online environment; with learning designed and delivered by skilled virtual trainers that are as interactive and effective as a well-run F2F workshop. If you are looking to zap any misconceptions and/or convince others of the merits of virtual training, then the following 11 benefits are worth considering…

11 benefits of virtual training

  1. Improved learning transfer
  2. Increased time efficiency
  3. Cost savings
  4. Suited to a flexible workforce
  5. Enhanced wellbeing
  6. Aligned to our digital future
  7. Facilitates collaboration
  8. Enables global reach and inclusivity
  9. Reduced risk
  10. Reduced carbon usage
  11. Recordable and reusable training

Let’s have a look at each of them in detail below:

1. Improved learning transfer

We believe that well run VILT workshops can rival F2F training in terms of learning transfer. Research in this area over the last few years has demonstrated that VILT can produce a learning transfer that is as good as, if not better than that of F2F.

By its nature, VILT is bite-sized and normally runs for around 1-3 hours. This approach allows participants to process focused sections of learning and then apply specific actions and behaviour changes both during and after a workshop. 

This then gets layered up with VILT programmes as participants alternate between learning and application.

Due to travel and related costs, most F2F training is delivered in day long workshops (or even more sometimes). This can encourage some trainers to ‘cram’ the event with multiple key points, models, processes etc. As a result of this, too much content can be offered, which may not be fully absorbed and subsequently used by the participants. Using VILT avoids this and helps to provide quality results in creating  lasting learning transfer.

2. Increased time efficiency

As VILT workshop participants join via their computer, either at home or in the office, time efficiency is instantly improved from traditional F2F learning. There is zero travel time required of learners and trainers alike, as well as zero need for travel time outside of working hours. On top of this, there is less time needed away from their desk or ‘day job’, allowing participants to get straight back on with work immediately after the workshop ends and able to apply their learning.

Similarly, the flexibility of the location allows home workers and office workers to log on with ease, no matter where they are located, and completely removes early morning departures or late-night returns, thus increasing participants’ health and wellbeing.

3. Cost savings

For many organisations, budgetary control has become a priority in this recent period of austerity. ATD’s ‘Virtual Classrooms Now’ whitepaper reported that 81% of organisations have confirmed saving on travel costs as a reason to use VILT.

From our own research on a typical 1-day F2F workshop in the UK, Europe and USA, we found that surprisingly high costs were incurred through travel alone. We recently released an infographic, (see below) that for a single day workshop in the UK, for 14 people, the company incurred travel costs of more than £2300 ($3013/€2576)!

In addition to savings on travel, VILT delivery removes the additional costs of training rooms, meals, refreshments, printed materials and so on. Using VILT as part of your training delivery approach can return a great deal more for your investment, or simply save you a large amount of your training budget.

4. Suited to a flexible workforce

A 2-year Stanford study showed the massive productivity boost gained from working from home recently, so it comes as no surprise that the number of people looking to do so is on the rise.

Organisations are now rapidly moving to enable and encourage more colleagues to work remotely. This is in part due to the quality and reliability of the tech now available in this digital age. VILT fits perfectly with the more flexible workforce, as learners can still participate in training from anywhere, using the technology that they already have.

VILT encourages colleagues to learn ‘on the go’, at pace and allows training to fit in with modern working practices and daily pressures. Having to stop work in order to travel a great distance for training events just don’t match up with today’s digital world.

5. Increased wellbeing

Both wellbeing and work-life balance are moving up the agenda for most organisations, with a general agreement that looking after employees improves happiness, engagement and productivity.

As VILT can be joined from either an office or at home, as mentioned above, travel time becomes minimised, overnight stays eradicated and travel hours avoided. Colleagues can simply schedule bite-sized VILT workshops conveniently into their diaries.

6. Aligned to our digital future

We should recognise the fact that much in our world can be accessed online. An Ofcom study done in 2015 found that people in the UK claim to spend an average of 24 hours a week online, outside of work- this is double the amount of time that was report in 2007! That’s a massive leap in 8 years, and we can forecast that in the four years since the study, it has only become higher.

Organisations are driving strategies which aim to embrace being digital but the traditional F2F training days in a hotel or conference centre just don’t align to this.

Sound familiar? Maybe swapping to VILT workshops could help you to align with your organisation’s strategic intent better?

The platform technology required to run VILT is most likely already in place and used by your organisation; platforms such as Skype for Business, WebEx, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The digital world is here and those in L&D who wish to stay apace, or develop the future in learning, need to adapt, adopt and develop the ways forward.

7. Facilitates collaboration

We still hear to this day, from some within L&D, that training is best delivered “in a room – F2F.” In a world where we are all so well connected online, why wouldn’t we embrace the same for training?

Today many people work in teams that are based disparately and yet, still manage to work collaboratively and use technology for their projects and communication. If a team can work together virtually, then they can also learn together virtually, and more regularly too.

VILT workshops can include all members of a team from those contributing part-time, to those sited remotely. When all of the team can learn together in a collaborative environment, the outcomes improve and diversity is gained.

8. Enables global reach and inclusivity

ATD’s “Virtual Classrooms Now” whitepaper reported that the no.1 reason why organisations are using VILT is to reach a geographically dispersed workforce. By using VILT, employees from different offices, cities, countries and even continents can now learn together, in a virtual space. Consistency and scalability can be achieved, reaching an entire workforce and ensuring L&D is equally available to all, regardless of location.

In 2013, when Microsoft wanted to globally refocus managers on how to have more effective performance conversations, the choice was to use VILT. Therefore, wherever located, managers received consistent training with the opportunities to practice in real time, gaining insight from their colleagues around the world. The outcomes were positive and as a bonus, travel cost free, with the training delivered at pace and globally.

For a bit of fun:  Click here to view our 1-minute video of Jules, the Studio Cat at the Virtual Training Team, explaining how she likes to learn with her remote colleagues!

9. Reducing risk

In recent years, many countries have experienced extreme weather events, such as flooding, forest fires and ash cloud. Sadly, the last decade has also seen terrorist events on the rise across the globe.

When these events occur, travel becomes much more challenging and heightens the risk to employees. In such conditions, many colleagues simply don’t want to travel, especially for work!

By using VILT, you can remove your employees need for travel to attend training, which in turn reduces the risk  for them. After all, VILT workshops are immune to traffic jams, airport delays, broken down cars and railway strikes!

10. Reduced carbon usage

We are all aware of the impact of global warming, more so now than ever thanks to the combined efforts of Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thurnberg. Increasingly, there are shocking warning signs that we need to be acting much more and much sooner.

In the near future, organisations will be challenged to reduce the carbon they use and report on how much carbon they use. Many have stated that strategically, they are looking to decrease their usage of carbon, or indeed become carbon neutral, which will inevitably offsetting and also involve limiting areas such as business travel. In relation to this, more L&D events will need to be achieved online and swiftly.

L&D professionals should also be taking into account the idea that many of us are making personal commitments to reduce our own use of carbon, through the way we travel, shop or dispose of waste.

With zero travel being the main spearhead for VILT workshops, it is easy to see how reducing your organisations carbon footprint could be an easy win.

11. Recordable and reusable training

VILT workshops are run as live training events, with the emphasis on participant engagement marking it apart from standard webinars or e-learning yet they can be recorded so the content can be used in additional ways.

Recordings can allow those unable to join the live session to still experience what they missed. The content can be edited into easily accessible short ‘nudges’ too – these are super useful in preparation for real events post the VILT workshop.

Final thoughts

There you have it! 11 sure fire benefits you could be experiencing with Virtual Training. Considering all this, how could you possibly find a reason not to give it a go?

If you want to learn more about virtual training, then why not get in touch with us today!

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