As more companies and organizations embrace remote work, the days of booking a meeting room and ordering catering for an all-day professional development session are being relegated to the history books. That doesn’t mean that learning and development opportunities aren’t available. Instead, remotely delivered training is becoming the norm.
At the same time, you also need to be cognizant about how much time you’re spending on video calls for meetings, training and team building. According to a report from Otter.ai, the weekly meeting time for remote employees has increased by 10% since the start of the pandemic—with most of those meetings taking place using video calls.
Taking professional development training remotely can also add to burnout, but there are ways to avoid these problems. Asynchronous online learning can be the best of both worlds by giving you the ability to train from anywhere, at your own pace and when it works for you.
Synchronous Versus Asynchronous Learning
Before we look at how asynchronous learning can help deliver remote learning without fatigue, let’s talk about the differences between synchronous and asynchronous learning.
Synchronous learning is the online equivalent of traditional in-person delivery. It’s a one-to-many approach, where a trainer in one location remotely presents to employees. As learners, you can be in a meeting room in your office, a home office or your favorite local coffee shop (as long as it’s got fast Wi-Fi). Training is in real time, with learners participating in workshops, presenter-led sessions and breakouts.
Asynchronous learning replaces real-time delivery and participation with on-demand training. Learners can access presentations and other content at their convenience. This enables you to find the time in your work schedule that makes the most sense. Instead of missing meetings or having projects back up, you’re able to work when you need to and learn when you’re able to focus.
Both models of learning have their pros and cons. Synchronous learning that uses video-conferencing can contribute to feelings of tiredness in the same way that online meetings do. With asynchronous learning, remote workers participating in the training aren’t able to ask live questions—though tools like discussion boards may still give the opportunity to check in with and ask questions of peers and facilitators.
Still, asynchronous learning offers numerous benefits for employees participating in online learning.
5 Benefits of Asynchronous Online Learning
1. Great Control for Learners
Asynchronous online learning is learner-focused. You choose when to learn, and control the pace of learning. These advantages give you the space you need to truly understand what you’re learning and bring those insights back into your daily work. While feedback isn’t in real time with asynchronous learning, you’re still able to ask questions—and sometimes with less hesitation, since your colleagues aren’t in the same room or video call.
2. More Flexibility for Remote Workers
One of the most significant benefits of remote work is the flexibility it provides. It’s not simply time saved from not having to commute—remote work allows you to work when it’s convenient. That flexibility extends to professional development when you get training through asynchronous online learning: you can learn when you have time to focus.
3. Less Fatigue From Video Calls
Spending hours on video meetings can be draining. In a study by Virtira Consulting, 58% of self-identified introverts and 40% of extroverts reported on-camera exhaustion. The same feeling of fatigue can also happen with synchronous online training. A distraction where you’re working can cause you to miss important information or conversations, which reduces the value of the experience. Asynchronous delivery means you can go back to any part of the training to get more insights, or just to watch a section again to understand it better.
4. More Accessibility in Professional Development
Asynchronous learning can also offer accessibility advantages compared to synchronous online learning. With on-demand content, presentation materials can be closed-captioned for employees with hearing impairments. Images in on-demand content can also include text descriptions for learners with visual impairments.
5. Reduced Costs
Both asynchronous and synchronous learning can reduce many of the costs associated with in-person learning. For example, there are few to no travel costs, since the training is presented remotely. That means no commute, no gas and no parking needed. For employers, it’s an easy sell, too: there is a cost reduction when there are large numbers of employees participating in professional development. Trainers can present to more employees, since room space isn’t a factor. Asynchronous online learning can further reduce the costs, as the training materials can be reused without the need for a live trainer.
Take Advantage of Asynchronous Training
How, where and when people work are changing. With remote work more common, what we’re seeing today is a shift toward a hybrid model—one in which employees work part time in an office and part time in a remote setting. In a survey of more than 1,000 workers across the U.S., 47% said they would look for another job if their employer didn’t support hybrid work.
Yet adopting a hybrid work model can require organizations to transform how they provide professional development opportunities to meet evolving employee, business and industry needs. Asynchronous training can be one of the tools in your toolkit.
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Haley Wilson is a Content Marketing Manager at D2L, specializing in the corporate learning space. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Guelph as well as a Master of Arts focused in history from Wilfrid Laurier University.
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