Why, and when, to move workshops to online training

March 6, 2020 in Digitise Training



Why, and when, to move workshops to online training

Despite the internet existing for over 25 years, many organisations are still highly reliant on face-to-face workshops. Indeed, there are times when face-to-face workshops are valuable. However, it can be a mistake to apply the same solution to every problem, particularly when there are many reasons to consider new solutions.

In this article, let’s consider when you may want to move workshops to online training, and then look at a series of steps to guide you through the process to move workshops to online training both efficiently and effectively.

Why transform move workshops to online training

No doubt, there is a place for face-to-face workshops. Workshops have been the foundation of training for decades and will no doubt remain an important training delivery method in the future.

They have many strengths when it comes to learning, but also many weaknesses which become more apparent as other training delivery methods arise.

Strengths

  • Takes participants away from their jobs, potentially reducing distractions and improving focus.
  • Allows body language to play a part in the training, which can be critical for certain modules.
  • Provides opportunities for group discussion in a way that everyone can understand and contribute to.
  • Can be easy to organise (see weaknesses as well) as it only requires a suitable location and little or no technology.
  • The physical interaction can boost teamwork and make internal connections.
  • Can provide some excitement or ‘event’ status, which may boost morale or help engage participants.
  • Can, in theory, handle large volumes of information and long programmes (half-day or full-day). However, this must be balanced against the overall success of the experience; more is not always better.

Weaknesses

  • While group discussion can be easy, it can also be difficult. It is common for participants to feel anxious about public discussion, and strong personalities can dominate discussions.
  • Can be very difficult to organise. It requires a physical location. It can be restrictive or difficult to organise for distributed teams and expensive to bring participants together.
  • Is typically the most inefficient training delivery method, particularly if participants have to travel to the event and external venue hire is required. A large portion of the cost is spent on expenses which do not impact the training result.
  • If external facilitators are used, it can require long sessions to justify the cost. Long workshops are even harder to coordinate, and participants become anxious about being away from work for too long.
  • Is at risk of being viewed as an ‘event’ – an activity which is fun but not effective. Requires careful preparation and, particularly, good follow-up to ensure learning is embedded. Else it is a once-off hit and leads to no real change.

When to move workshops to online training

For many organisations which have relied on workshops, it may be time to reconsider that reliance.

  • Workshops are expensive. The cost of a two-day workshop can easily exceed the cost of an entire annual subscription to a learning platform. That’s two days of learning vs 365 days of learning for the same monetary investment.
  • Workshops are inefficient. Much time is lost in organisation and travel, not to mention time in attendance. A high proportion of overall costs are spent on items which do not impact the training outcome (room hire, travel, food, printed workbooks).
  • Workshops are often ineffective. Delivering theory via a workshop is not only the single most inefficient way to deliver theory, it is also ineffective. It can be inconsistently delivered, boring for participants and offer no ability to skip or repeat content.

Unless your workshops are 100% focused on group interaction, then it’s time to move workshops to online training. You will only get outperformance from a workshop when it is focused on teamwork, full group discussion or application of ideas. Even then, small group virtual workshops can replicate many of those outcomes at a much lower investment too.

Another time to reconsider your workshops is then they are causing delays in training. If your workshops need 5-10 or more employees to justify running, then you are creating bottlenecks in training. New employees might need to wait 2-6 months for a workshop, by which time they have been forced to learn on-the-job, often picking up bad habits. Online training removes that bottleneck immediately, allowing learning to be accessed 24/7.

If your organisation needs to reduce training costs or travel, online learning is a powerful solution too. This is particularly true when online training is blended with small group workshops. This can give you the best of both worlds at a significantly reduced cost – and often with much better training outcomes!