Is In-person Training Ready to Launch Again?
by John Ferrare, Enerdynamics CEO and Seminar Facilitator
Anyone dealing with corporate training is certainly struggling with a nagging question: When do we go back to in-person learning? For most of our clients the answer seems to be “not before 2022!” But we do have a few clients that are slowly bringing employees back into the office, which likely signals that in-person learning is not far behind.
One of my favorite clients asked me last year if I’d be up for traveling in March. At that point (late 2020) I said a tentative yes, knowing it may be postponed. It wasn’t! But I was lucky to get my first COVID vaccination a few weeks before the trip, so I chose to go. Following are my notes to that client. I share them because I think there are insights that everyone should consider before going full steam into in-person training:
About the travel
Travel is difficult. Many of the things that make it more manageable (airport lounges and restaurants) are either closed or operating at reduced hours. When I arrived in the small town where the class was scheduled there was little to no choice in transportation. In fact, I was fortunate that there was one taxi at the airport (no Uber, no Lyft). The driver told me they were down to eight incoming flights a day at that airport. Thus, the limited transportation options.
The same problem existed when traveling from the hotel to the client’s office: little to no rideshare services available. On my way back home to California, United Airlines canceled my flight to Chicago due to wind (I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to find wind in Chicago?). United did not have another available flight for three days! My only choice was to pick another airport. However, the best option was three hours away and the only choice was to take a taxi, which cost $320. It was that or stay where I was three more nights. I thought United Airlines might reimburse me, but the airline took zero accountability for this.
About the class
Now for the classroom experience. Masked up, I was two slides into my first class when I started hyperventilating and had to leave the room for water and to remove my mask and catch my breath. There was a moment where I seriously considered canceling the class. I didn't see any way I could make it all day with a mask on. I came back in and had the class do introductions, which helped me calm down a bit. But throughout the day it was extremely difficult to breathe deeply enough to project my voice through a mask. The class participants were very kind and told me to just take the mask off. But I told them that this was the first class in a year at this site, and I was not going to be the one to shut this down again! I was provided detailed instructions by the client in advance and keeping my mask on in the classroom was among them.
The participants’ post-seminar evaluations, which were extremely kind and generous, did mention the issues with masks, both mine and theirs. I completely agree with them; it's really problematic. Of course, with vaccinations happening quickly, who knows what corporate policies will be in the near future? Maybe mask mandates will loosen as the mass population is vaccinated.
I have since had a debrief with this client and together we decided that the next in-person class will be postponed until September. Hopefully by Fall 2021 things will have calmed down a bit and some normalcy will be restored. And, just a heads up for those of you who didn’t know, an airline can cancel your flight because of wind and leave you stranded for days! I learned quite a bit from this experience.
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