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Like most training organisations, we changed our delivery mode to virtual facilitation over the past year. We were nervous to start with, which was natural, considering we’ve worked offline for 90% of the time in 26 years in business.

What is interesting, however, is the positive effects of virtual training.

Having spent time reviewing the benefits of virtual delivery with both learners, facilitators, and course sponsors, we think there are more positives to virtual facilitation than there are negatives.

So let’s sum up why we are advocates for online facilitation being the future ‘norm’. There is a lot of information to share, so we’ll have a few blog posts on the subject. The first blog is about virtual facilitation being good for our wellbeing.

No more travelling!

100% of our learners expressed how not having to travel to and from a learning event is a major health benefit – physical, emotional and mental.

Think about the old days – long journeys on busy roads, delays, and cancellations of public transport affecting travel plans. I once had a 12 hour delay returning home after a long days facilitation, due to a crash on a Motorway. The stress of travel is gone.

“Nothing has been lost by virtual learning except the commute, parking charges and general annoying stuff.”

Anthony Andreoli, Senior Adviser and Protection Specialist LifeSearch

“I enjoyed the online experience. It saved me travelling to our head office in Glasgow for 10 weeks, and made learning a joy.”  

Nicola Lockwood, Victim Support Scotland

We can gently immerse back into our ‘real’ lives after a virtual learning event

Sometimes courses can raise difficult emotions, and to then leave, with these emotions, and emerge into a long journey ahead, disruptions and the other stressors of travel, makes it challenging for both learners and facilitators alike.

I think the fact that we can go into our own living room, garden, or out for a walk, to wind down after a learning event, is a real benefit.

I attended a Sharpham Barn Retreat at Home, and the event was just as integrative as the 6 day in person retreat, but without the 7 hour journey to and from South Devon! We all said at the end of the retreat how fantastic this deep immersion was, and we shared the joy we felt at not having to immediately face the stress of going back into the ‘real’ world.

We stay in our own environment

Think of the long term benefits to our wellbeing of staying in our own environment, yet we are still attending a learning event. We sleep in our own bed before a learning event, we don’t have far to travel to the event, maybe just paces or yards, we eat our own food, and we get to spend more of our waking time with the people, and pets, we love.

Plus; we spend more time in the house (and garden, if you have one) that we work hard to pay for. Isn’t the new virtual world looking more appealing?

Keeping to our usual diet

Conferences, courses, and learning events are often viewed as a treat. People expect the chocolate biscuits, the buffet lunch, and the posh coffee machine drinks.

Our bodies can go into sugar shock – how many times have I heard someone say, “I never usually eat cakes, but I am craving them now”. Or we get caffeine headaches, as we normally have one coffee at a break, but it was so tempting to have two.

Staying in hotels, we may be tempted by the cooked breakfast or Danish pastries, whereas at home our norm is a slice of toast. So we are more likely to keep to our normal diet, and habits.

Not overindulging, and sticking to our normal food and drink choices, helps our wellbeing.

Email stress is lower

I found that email stress with learners was common on courses. Whole days of learning often led to long evenings given up working through emails, which is sad, because all the learner has done is to extend their working day.

On day two of a course, I often heard “I’m going to have to work through breaks, and lunch today, because I have 100 emails in my inbox.”, if they didn’t work through the evening!

The fast pace of work, and ease of email means our customers and stakeholders expect responses to happen quickly, and the inbox filling up can psychologically affect our wellbeing. I’d like to add that I am not condoning this choice of learners to spend their social time on emails when they should have felt safe with an out of office message to be on a course. I think it says a lot about our macho culture being role modelled at work. See Cary Cooper’s comments on email and wellbeing.

Two hour chunks of time tended to be the duration of meetings in our face to face lives, and so it is part of our old norm and habits. It is a behaviour that is already anchored, so we know that leaving our inbox alone is psychologically ‘safe’ because we will return to it in two hours.

Shorter sessions mean we still have quality time allocated to attend to the inbox. Learners prefer this, and it gives them the opportunity to pay attention to their learning.

People tend to be on time

People tend to be on time for virtual training. Face to face training was often disrupted by the late arrival of the learner, embarrassed about road traffic problems or public transportation delays. What a benefit to our wellbeing, as no more embarrassed entries, or duplicated introductions.

“I’ve found training sessions stay much more to time AND people are more likely to interact. There’s no waiting for everyone to turn up then shuffle the furniture around or leave to get a chair anymore.”

Anthony Andreoli, Senior Adviser and Protection Specialist – Cert CII
Part of the LifeSearch team since 2013

What are your thoughts?

Do you have experiences to share?

Do you have anything to add?

Imagine a world where we enhance our wellbeing as we learn, Maybe you can see why we’re finding it an easy choice to remain an online facilitation company.

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