Some people are coming back to the office for the first time in two years. There has been pushback among workers about returning full time, with half of them looking to quit if required to do so. Organizations have acknowledged this desire for remote work, and some are adopting a hybrid work model.
Many employees, though, are excited to see their co-workers face to face. There are many reasons people want to return to the office, at least a few days a week. But mainly, they are craving for human interaction. After all, the workplace meets people’s need to socialize and connect with others, which is a challenge when working from home.
This is the same reason why, when it comes to receiving training, many people still want to be physically in the classroom. Learning is richer when there is more face-to-face interaction and social connection. Accounting firms need to consider this as their workers begin to return to the office.
Tax and accounting firms need to invest in learning and development for their employees to retain talent and address succession issues. They should give workers the tools to grow as professionals and in their careers.
In person learning can accommodate different learning styles
Under the VARK model, people have different learning styles. While both in person and online training can provide elements of the VARK (visual, auditory, reading, and kinesthetic) approach; face-to-face training has many advantages, including:
- Visual learners. They learn best with visual content like videos, images, graphs, and charts. In-person training is most effective in show-and-tell demonstrations, where instructors can present objects in the real world, not on a screen.
- Auditory learners. They retain information through sound, so listening to lectures, audiobooks, podcasts, and recordings work best. However, listening is enhanced by non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language, which are best displayed in person.
- Reading learners. They prefer reading text to absorb information. Handouts, slides, transcripts, manuals, and subtitles should be used. The advantage of in-person training is learners can quickly ask questions and clarifications while they are reading.
- Kinesthetic learners. They learn by doing, through practice, hands-on activities, simulations, and role-playing. This works best in a physical environment, where it is easier to demonstrate steps or scenarios.
Benefits of in person learning
Just as many organizations have accepted that a hybrid work model is the best way to go, blended learning is also the right approach to L&D. Sticking to just virtual training ignores the many advantages of face-to-face classroom training:
Networking in person drives stronger connections
Networking is connecting with different people, sharing ideas, and finding opportunities to help and ask for help. Physical presence allows more opportunities to build relationships and trust. It is challenging to recreate informal chats over a Zoom training session, even if you are grouped into smaller breakout rooms. But these happen naturally in an in-person classroom setting where it is easier to have organic conversations during breaks or after a session.
The importance of nonverbal communication
People often turn off their videos in an online environment and are usually on mute. Technical glitches and delays take away the spontaneity in conversations. It is easier to understand people with their facial expressions, body language, and other non-verbal cues with in-person training.
In person learning facilitates professional engagement
The office provides people a sense of community, which makes them feel connected and engaged. They feel that they belong and are part of something bigger. This kind of solidarity works as well in face-to-face training. It is a shared experience heightened by close physical contact, something that does not happen online.
While it is possible to interact with instructors and co-learners in an online environment, it is also more challenging. People take turns to talk, muting and unmuting themselves. There is just more interaction with in-person training. It is easier and faster to have back-and-forth discussions and even side chats with a seatmate.
Hands-on learning can be more effective
Nothing beats in-person training when it comes to hands-on activities. Learning a new software or process, for example, can be easier in a face-to-face atmosphere. It can allow the instructor to see what the employee is seeing and provide more personalized direction.
In person collaboration can elevate the learning experience
Working in groups with online training is possible, but it is much simpler to collaborate face to face. Brainstorming, whiteboarding, and mind mapping are more natural and free-flowing in a physical setting.
In person learning enhances productivity
Research shows that physical proximity leads to greater productivity. People working closely are three times as collaborative and produce more output of higher quality. Another study reveals that teams working in “war rooms” are twice as productive as those in traditional office setups.
In person learning supports greater cognitive performance
Social interaction promotes increased cognitive functioning. Interacting, socializing, and connecting in person involves more mental processes such as listening, thinking, responding, and showing empathy.
In person learning promotes wellbeing
“Zoom fatigue” has practically become a medical term for a good reason. Whatever virtual platform organizations use, people often feel exhausted and drained. Being physically present reduces the intensity of being hyper-vigilant. At the same time, physical contact and social bonding release oxytocin, our brain’s feel-good chemical. Plus, it lowers cortisol and adrenocorticotropin, which are associated with high blood pressure, weight gain, and heart disease. In other words, it is good for our physical and emotional health.
Classroom training encourages extended learning
The value of in-person training goes beyond the time in the classroom. Learners can stay right after a session to continue asking questions or for advice. Learning on the field or on-premises are examples of experiential learning, which is more engaging, immersive, and practical.
Tax and accounting professionals realize career and personal growth through in person learning
Now is the time to focus on in-person learning, which your employees have missed for two years. They crave the interactions of the classroom. Remember, this is not an all-or-nothing choice. You can always do both.
At Thomson Reuters, we offer high-quality in-person and live online seminars and self-study courses. AuditWatch is our audit training and consulting for accounting professionals. Gear Up offers the best high quality in person CPE courses from expert practitioners.