F2F vs Virtual Learning

As someone who has been involved in working with teams for many years, I have a bias towards face to face education. I think you have far greater impact when you are learning with others in groups, because it’s not just the content, but there is a whole degree of learning that comes from interacting with others. It’s social learning.

However, we know that so much learning has gone virtual simply because of the time taken in face to face, the cost involved, etcetera. The whole focus now seems to be very much on virtual learning. Some of you may be familiar with the learning philosophy of 70/20/10, which is 70% of the learning is based on the job, 20% is based on learning from discussion with colleagues, line managers, and 10% through formal education.

I had a realisation about this recently. I was working with a team of senior people in an organisation, and they had all been doing lots of virtual education, lots of training virtually. They were brought together for one day for a face to face event, because we were running a program on leadership.

What really struck me was … firstly the level of interaction in the group, and the depth at which the topics were covered, and of course the relationships that were then made during the day. Some of these people have actually been working on the same floor for a couple of years, yet had never had the opportunity to discuss some of the topics that we were covering in the workshop.

I framed from the start that the opportunity to come together to spend a day exploring some of the leadership topics in a face to face environment, was really valuable, and that they should make the most of it. It was proven again by the interaction in that group.

There’s a lot of value in getting people together. As a global leader, part of what we do is we educate our teams. I appreciate that it’s cheaper, faster, quicker to do things in a virtual manner. Of course, there are certain topics which lend themselves to being done virtually. For example, compliance topics that just require you to give a level of content. However, for topics that require what I call a level of depth, of perhaps the softer skills, it may be worth thinking about how we do that face to face. The investment may be higher initially. However, I think the returns that you’re going to get from it are going to be far higher.

Something that occurs when you conduct face to face training compared to virtual is you enable people to connect. You enable people to build relationships. You enable people to network. As we all know, if you have greater relationships in the organisation, if you have a greater network, things get done a lot easier.

Here’s my reflection point for you. As a global leader, what’s the education process or processes you are using with your team? What percentage of it is being done virtually, and what percentage of it is being done face to face? With the face to face interactions, is it possible for you to actually make it more powerful so that it achieves far greater outcomes than purely the curriculum outcomes that you state at the start?

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