What Is Virtual Training? (Including Pros and Cons)

Updated June 24, 2022

Virtual training is a great way to help employees within an organization develop and strengthen their skills without meeting in person. While virtual training can be challenging, it also represents an opportunity for employees to enhance their learning experience through convenience, flexibility and technological advancement. Whether you're creating, running or participating in a virtual training session, understanding this training type and some of its potential benefits can help you make the most of your virtual opportunities. In this article, we define what virtual training is, describe why it's important and list the pros and cons of this unique learning strategy.

Related: A Guide to Virtual Learning: What It Is, Benefits and Tips

What is virtual training?

Virtual training is a process where employees can complete job training activities online rather than in-person in a physical location. This training can take place synchronously, meaning that all participants complete it at the same time. One way to do this is with a web-based video chatting software or program. Virtual training can also be asynchronous. In this case, employees can complete a virtual training activity or program individually. While there may be a time limit imposed, employees can often complete these training programs at their convenience.

Many industries can use virtual training to help employees prepare for or advance their roles. With virtual training technologies, these companies can develop training programs that meet employee needs and organizational requirements. Depending on the organization's goals and resources, virtual training programs can range in length from a brief, one-time class to regular training sessions. Some examples of virtual training could be an online workshop demonstrating how to use a new technology or a virtual skills assessment program.

Why is virtual training important?

Virtual training is important because it can allow organizations to safely and effectively train employees in various geographical locations. In situations where it isn't possible to have all employees meet in person, virtual training can allow employees to maintain their skills and keep up with their work requirements. This can be especially important if an organization operates remotely. If most employees live in different geographical locations, virtual learning can be an effective way to connect the whole organization. Even if employees live in the same area, or an organization sometimes operates in person, virtual training opportunities can supplement employee learning.

Cons of virtual training

Here are some of the challenging aspects of virtual training and how to overcome them:


One potential challenge of virtual training is that it can be difficult to keep all employees engaged without meeting in person. Especially if employees have many virtual meetings throughout the day, it can be challenging to create interesting and unique training content that keeps all attendees engaged without the aid of physical interaction. While the content of a virtual training program may be strong, it can also be important to consider the way that employees receive this information.

If you're creating or running virtual training programs, you can increase engagement potential by including fun, interactive activities and scheduling regular breaks. You can also discuss ideas for improving training programs with employees. If you're participating in a virtual training program, you can increase your individual engagement by taking notes, participating in activities and adhering to a regular training schedule whenever possible.

Related: How To Be Successful as a Virtual Team Manager

Learning curve for technology

For employees and those running training sessions, it can be challenging to learn the new technology required to successfully complete training activities. In some cases, virtual training can require specialized programs or platforms. For those who haven't experienced these platforms, it can require time and energy to learn how to operate them. One way to help overcome this learning curve is to offer resources or additional training sessions for anyone who may need extra assistance. You may also want to limit training deadlines or requirements at the beginning of a program to allow employees time to learn new technology.

Related: How To Stay Current With Technology Trends

Time zones

While virtual training can be extremely convenient for employees, it can also be challenging to manage programs that include employees across time zones. One way to limit the potential challenge of different time zones is to focus on asynchronous training activities that employees can complete at their convenience. You can also record training activities for any employees who aren't able to watch them at a particular time.


Another challenge of virtual training is that many potential distractions can keep you or your coworkers from focusing on their work. Since employees can complete virtual training in any location with internet access, the chosen training area can be more crowded or distracting than an in-person meeting might be. One way to limit distractions is to create a dedicated workspace such as an at-home office. If this isn't an option, you can also consider going to a quiet location like a library or coffee shop to focus on your work.

Relationship development

It can be challenging to develop relationships with coworkers without the aid of in-person interaction. Relationships can help an organization by allowing employees to enjoy their work and create collaborative solutions or innovations. While it can be more challenging to promote relationship building during virtual training opportunities, you can encourage all participants to participate in training activities as much as possible. If time allows, you can schedule dedicated time for employees to interact outside of the required training material. You can additionally plan or attended virtual employee bonding activities like trivia nights.

Related: 8 Reasons Why It's Important To Build Workplace Relationships


Another potential challenge of virtual training is that it can require more preparation than it might to run an in-person workshop. This is because you may focus on new technology offerings and develop additional resources to support learners. If you're an employee taking a virtual training workshop, it can require you to prepare for new learning procedures or requirements. While these preparations can be challenging at first, they can get easier when you feel more comfortable. Increased preparation can also lead to improved performance for employees and training leaders.

Pros of virtual training

Here are some of the benefits of virtual learning:


One major benefit of virtual training is that it can be more convenient for training leaders and employees. This is because participants can easily complete activities from the comfort of their homes. If the activities are asynchronous, employees can also complete them on a time schedule that works for them. This added convenience can improve employee morale and allow employees to dedicate more of their energy to training. For example, if you'd prefer to sleep in, you can complete training later in the day when you're more rested.

Geographical flexibility

Another benefit of virtual training is that it can allow employees from all over the world to easily connect and share information. In-person training sessions can be logistically challenging for employees in locations far from the designed meeting spot. With virtual training, though, these employees can participate as easily as any of their coworkers. This can open training, learning and team-building opportunities that may not have existed before. For example, a company may create a virtual, organization-wide event rather than separate events for each individual location.


In some cases, it can be unsafe to gather all employees in a physical setting. This can be true if employees are sick or if there are any local or global events that can affect employees' ability to come to the office. In these cases, virtual training can allow an organization to continue training new and existing employees without losing time due to uncontrollable circumstances. It can also allow employees to rest and improve their health without worrying about spreading illness or traveling to work.

Recording capability

With some virtual training platforms, you can easily record virtual training sessions and distribute the recording to attendees. This can give employees an opportunity to re-watch training or reflect on any areas they might like to revisit in their own time. Revisiting particularly challenging areas of training can strengthen understanding of the topic across the organization and lead to improved performance.

For example, if you felt confused about a particular topic during a training program, you can watch that section again after taking some time to think about it. This can be especially helpful if you typically struggle to listen to new topics while taking notes during an in-person training session. Since recordings may not expire until you delete them, you can revisit training at any time to sharpen your skills.

Technological benefits

While it can be challenging to learn virtual training technology, once you do learn it, platforms can give you the opportunity to complete advanced tasks and performance measures you may not have been able to do in person. For example, some programs can allow you to efficiently share your screen, distribute virtual materials or ask a question without disrupting the presentation. These features can help you develop or complete successful and engaging training programs.


In some cases, virtual training can limit costs. This is because you can often avoid paying for a room large enough to accommodate employees or any other resources necessary for in-person meetings. Since many virtual learning platforms are free or affordable, this resource may not be as financially demanding for a company. Additionally, employees can save costs by not traveling for meetings.


Another benefit of virtual training is that it can be more accessible for those with unique needs or requirements. For example, employees can use options like closed captioning or volume adjustment to make sure that they can always easily take in information in a way that works for them. If you find it potentially challenging to complete in-person training activities, virtual training can offer you the chance to tailor your learning experience to your exact needs.

Time use

Since employees can avoid traveling to the office with virtual meetings, this can save time and more effectively utilize resources. By giving employees the opportunity to complete any training without travel requirements and, in some cases, time restrictions, you can use more time to focus on learning the material. For example, if you know that it takes you longer to complete training in the afternoon because it's harder to focus at that time, you can choose to save time by starting your work when you're more efficient.

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