Anita Roddick* once said:

If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room

The corona virus seems to have taken the place of the mosquito 😉

So, making a virtue out of different necessities, my colleagues and I delivered two half-remote training courses last week.

One to EDA Solutions FAEs where, for (political) reasons that had nothing to do with the famous virus, one of the FAEs could not leave his country of origin to attend. Proud to be the first ever remote trainee on the Excellence in Client Encounters course, Khalid Teama, reports:

I was really surprised. The course has a unique delivery format which works brilliantly through a teleconference. It’s highly interactive and good fun, involving many exercises, presentations and role plays. What’s more, since most of our customer interactions also use teleconferencing, the role plays are all the more realistic!

Another, in collaboration with François Cerisier of AEDVICES and on Functional Verification, was to a French-Italian audience where, for obvious reasons, the Italian contingent had to stay at home. Frankly, this was not without its difficulties, as it’s hard to balance the needs of remote and local audiences, even with three facilitators!

Nevertheless, everyone learned a thing or two, not least the trainers. In particular:

  • Multiple facilitators helps a lot. It’s tough to concentrate on your trainees at the same time as reading chat and running the technical side of a teleconference. Everyone has a better experience if these roles can be separated.
  • Many activities originally designed for the classroom work fine online, though the Devil is in the detail. So it is crucial to dry-run exercises before launching them remotely.
  • Some things are much easier online than in the classroom, so we can use a switch to remote working to enhance training too!

On this last point, I’ve found that, using a good teleconference system, it’s extremely simple to put people into breakout “rooms” together and to selectively address individual students, sharing content with them. This is very handy when setting up role-plays.

Furthermore, as Khalid pointed out above, these role plays can seem extremely realistic. They are also easy to observe, record, replay etc.

Based on these and other recent experiences, I believe that the current crisis will have lasting effects on our training habits, on work and on life in general. We’ll quickly learn how to better work remotely and reduce unnecessary travel.

* Anita Roddick: environmentalist, human rights campaigner and founder of The Body Shop

Useful links:

Engineering Team Leader Best Practices Exchange

ICONDA Solutions