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. This doesn’t mean that learning and development opportunities aren’t available. Instead, remotely delivered training is becoming the norm.
At the same time, leaders also need to think about how much time employees are 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. That time equals almost three additional meetings per week.
Delivering professional development training remotely can add to burnout, but there is a way to avoid these problems. Asynchronous online learning can help us get the best of both worlds by giving employees the ability to train from anywhere, at their own pace and when it works for them.
Synchronous Versus Asynchronous Learning
Before we look at how asynchronous learning can 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. The employees can be in a meeting room in your office, a home office or their favorite local coffee shop with excellent Wi-Fi. Training is in real time, with employees participating in workshops, presenter-led sessions and breakouts.
Asynchronous learning replaces real-time delivery and participation with on-demand training. Your employees can access presentations and other content at their convenience. This enables them to find the time in their work schedules that makes the most sense. Instead of missing meetings or having projects back up, they’re able to work when they need to and learn when they’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 them opportunities to check in with and ask questions of their peers and facilitators.
Still, asynchronous learning offers numerous benefits for companies and employees participating in online learning.
6 Problems You Can Solve With Asynchronous Online Learning
1. Great Control for Your Employees
Asynchronous online learning is learner-focused. Employees choose when to learn, and they control the pace of learning. These advantages give your employees the space they need to truly understand what they’re learning and bring those insights back into their daily work. While feedback isn’t in real time with asynchronous learning, people are still able to ask questions—sometimes with less hesitation, since their 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 employees. It’s not simply time saved from not having to commute—remote work allows employees to work when it’s convenient for them. The flexibility extends to professional development when you deliver training through asynchronous online learning. Your employees can learn when they 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 they’re working can cause them to miss important information or conversations, which reduces the value of the experience. Asynchronous delivery means they 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 employees with visual impairments.
5. Reduced Costs
Both asynchronous and synchronous learning can reduce many of the costs associated with in-person learning. First, there are few to no travel costs, since the training is presented remotely. Second, there is a cost reduction when you have 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.
6. Increased Scale
Adopting asynchronous online learning enables businesses to scale professional development to more employees across their organization—regardless of location or time zone. Rather than learning in the middle of the workday, employees are able to find time during slower periods so it won’t impact their productivity.
Support a Hybrid Workforce With Asynchronous Training
How, where and when people work are changing. After a year dominated by remote work, 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.
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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