The benefits of offsite training are well understood. Training your team is equally important whether they are office based or working remotely, but delivering across the two different methods can be significantly different.
So how can offsite training translate to a virtual setting?
Everyone in the corporate world will know what to expect from an offsite training day. It can be challenging to offer similar benefits and draw out the same level of enthusiasm when done through a computer screen.
To understand how to run a virtual offsite training session, we’re going to use the example of bank simulation training – which we’re experts in – and go through:
- How to achieve the same relaxed environment
- Different approaches to team building exercises
- Facilitating networking in a virtual setting
- Creating the disconnect from the office when doing online training
- Emulating the social element of offsite training
How to make your remote offsite training relaxed
A key element of an offsite training session is informality. Participants are usually encouraged to dress casually and everyone interacts on a more social level.
Your remote team may already be used to working in joggers and a t-shirt. To bring an element of fun, you can consider assigning colours or certain styles (Hawaiian shirts) to the different teams to wear or encourage a fun background on their video feed.
It is important to let everyone know that this isn’t another work day. Bank simulation training will be anything but business-as-usual so set the tone with a differentiator.
Virtual team building exercises
With simulations, there is a focus on team building, as well as developing business acumen. Every section of the virtual offsite day will encourage your leaders to work as a team with new people.
A banking simulation encourages teams to work together to analyse information and make mutually agreed decisions. Outside of the structured training, team building exercises will create an atmosphere of fun and a connection outside of the training tasks.
Networking during virtual offsite training
Anyone who’s attended a traditional offsite training course will tell you that the networking opportunities are invaluable. Making connections across business areas and at different levels of the business creates a positive working environment back on the job.
This is still possible during a virtual offsite training day. When your leaders are participating in bank simulation training, they’ll be placed in teams, with people they don’t work with day-to-day. They will need to work collaboratively across the simulation team to manage real commercial issues. This helps build new networks for everyone to take advantage of.
Disconnecting from the office in a virtual offsite
The temptation to check emails or take a call is one of the reasons it helps to get your team out of the office for training. This can be a challenge when organising your virtual offsite – the old distractions remain along with feeding the cat, taking deliveries, or childcare duties.
Some options when organising your offsite virtual training include:
- Requesting your team still go “offsite” and book them into their local coworking space for the day
- Ensuring participants have everything they need to stay engaged for the whole day e.g. reliable internet connections, childcare arrangements, and a space with no interruptions
- Having participants close email and other messaging and social apps
- Ensure participants put an “Out of Office” notifications on email and messaging apps.
- Ensuring participants switch their cameras on
- Extensively use the chat function to poll simple questions
- Using the chat function to check-in on engagement levels
Bringing the social element of offsite training to a virtual setting
Offsite training has everyone spend the whole day together, including eating lunch and sometimes even post-training drinks. This can be a challenge to emulate in a virtual environment – it’s a little more awkward eating your sandwich over Zoom than in a dining room!
To keep everyone engaged during breaks throughout a banking simulation training, you can still provide lunch, snacks, and drinks. Depending on your logistical capabilities, you can organise for lunch to be delivered to each participant – great if your team is still geographically close by. If that’s not possible, sending everyone a gift card so they can organise their own lunch delivery is also an option.
Want to have post training drinks and a debrief? Have refreshments delivered or provide funds for participants to order what they like and create a social atmosphere. Since the pandemic, people will be much more comfortable socialising at home.
How to run a virtual offsite
At Excelerate, we’ve got training programs ready to go and optimised for your virtual environment. Bank simulation training works well whether in a real offsite training situation or run virtually.
Whilst we work on delivering the training, you can ensure the experience your leaders get is as close to a physical offsite experience as possible. Buying everyone lunch, encouraging people to switch off from normal office tasks, and creating a relaxed atmosphere are some of the ways you can be sure your bank simulation virtual offsite is a great success.