Virtual Training Is Here To Stay

Leadership IQ surveyed 1,809 leaders about the perseverance of virtual training.

IIn this study, Leadership IQ surveyed 1,809 leaders about virtual training, and specifically whether their organization has started to shift away from virtual learning back to traditional classroom training.

  • Only 24% of organizations have started in-person indoor training
  • Only 34% of people are totally comfortable with in-person indoor training (preferring virtual training)
  • 81% would require socially-distanced seating for a traditional classroom training indoors
  • 47% would require proof of vaccination
  • 40% of people are willing to travel to attend an in-person training

STUDY METHODOLOGY
During the week of May 10th, 2021, Leadership IQ surveyed 1,809 leaders in the United States about virtual training, and specifically whether their organization has started to shift away from virtual learning back to traditional classroom training. Respondents answered a dozen questions about whether their organization has started in-person training (aka traditional classroom training) or if they're still training in a virtual environment.  Respondents had the following demographics. COMPANY SIZE: Up to 99 Employees (38%), 100-499 Employees (24%), 500-9,999 Employees (25%), 10,000+ Employees (13%). ROLE: C-level executive (29%), Mid-level manager (54%), Frontline supervisor (17%).

FINDING #1: MOST ORGANIZATIONS ARE STILL ONLY CONDUCTING VIRTUAL TRAINING

Respondents were asked, "Has your organization started conducting in-person training indoors?" As you can see in the chart, only 24% of organizations have started in-person indoor training, with the vast majority preferring to remain with elearning or virtual training courses. While there are companies that plan to shift away from virtual training as soon as this Summer or even Fall, the virtual classroom will remain the dominant form of learning until at least this Winter.

FINDING #2: MIDSIZE COMPANIES ARE MOST LIKELY TO HAVE STARTED MOVING AWAY FROM VIRTUAL TRAINING

When we dissect the survey results by company size we can see that the largest companies are still relying almost exclusively on virtual online training. Companies with between 100-499 employees are the most likely to have moved their training program out of the virtual environment and into an in-person experience. But even there, it's still a minority of companies.

It's possible that the largest companies are sticking with virtual training because they have the resources to maintain a robust virtual training program with a high-quality participant experience, virtual trainer expertise, and course material designed for elearning. It's similarly possible that a smaller company would be more reliant on the occasional webinar or virtual class and would lack a top-tier virtual training platform.

FINDING #3: MOST PEOPLE ARE MORE COMFORTABLE WITH VIRTUAL TRAINING

Each study participant was asked, "How comfortable are you attending in-person training indoors?" As seen in the chart below, only 34% are totally comfortable with in-person indoor training, while 23% are a little uneasy but would still attend.

These results should worry training leaders who are preparing to lead traditional classroom training. What level of training engagement can we expect if only a small percentage of the participant population is totally comfortable? If nearly a quarter of our student group is not comfortable at all, can we expect them to walk away with a deeper understanding of the subject matter?

FINDING #4: PARTICIPANTS WILL REQUIRE SIGNIFICANT PRECAUTIONS TO ATTEND IN-PERSON EVENTS

Respondents were asked, "What protocols would you need to have in place in order to attend an in-person training course indoors?" The top requirements for a learner to attend an in-person training session are mask-wearing during the session, socially distanced seating, and sanitizers readily available. Here's the complete list of requirements with the percent of participants who choose that item.

Proof of vaccination requirement (47%)
Proof of negative test results 3-days before session (31%)
Mask-wearing during the session (71%)
Mask-wearing during breaks (57%)
Socially-distanced seating (81%)
Sanitizers readily available (79%)
Individually-wrapped food & snacks (63%)

FINDING #5: TRAINING OPTIONS THAT REQUIRE TRAVEL ARE LESS DESIRABLE

While 40% of people are willing to travel to attend an in-person training, it's clear that virtual training would still be preferable. An additional 33% would be willing to travel but only by car. Even when people's comfort with traditional classroom training increases, a virtual training learning experience may still be preferable because it doesn't require travel. While we did not target the survey to the practitioner, one imagines that they would be somewhat less hesitant to travel to facilitate a live training in-person.

CONCLUSION (THE CONTINUING NEED FOR A VIRTUAL SOLUTION TO TRAINING)

As the United States continues to progress through (and hopefully near the end of) the pandemic, it's clear that there remains a significant preference for virtual training. There are, of course, many options for improving the virtual training experience, including live virtual training or instructor led training. One of the keys will be to continue to improve the online learning experience.

For example, in one of Leadership IQ's virtual training solutions, we offer a highly structured learning experience via a six week curriculum. For example, in the virtual course The Science And Practices Of Managing People, each week offers a blend of online learning and offline homework. And in the employee training courses in the Emotional Wellness Training Library, each course delivers practical skills via elearning with additional practice exercises to be conducted by the participant offline. And of course, Leadership IQ's virtual instructor led training courses are highly customized to meet the needs of each unique organization.

For the facilitator, in our Leadership Training Online Library, each course comes with a Trainer's Guide. Each leadership training course comes with a TRAINER'S GUIDE that your internal training team can use to conduct face-to-face sessions based on the content from each leadership course. These TRAINER'S GUIDES contain discussion questions, exercises, deeper dives, and more! We are the only leadership training firm that actually helps internal leadership trainers in this way. You can use our videos and deliver your own face-to-face training sessions using the TRAINER'S GUIDES. This way you can build a fully customized leadership development curriculum.

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