De Bilt, NL (July 22, 2020): In response to COVID, businesses are rethinking how they train their teams. Following months of mostly online training, the heads of L&D at several multinationals show reluctance to return to face-to-face learning. Based on recent interviews with heads of L&D at GSK, Merck and other multinationals (full white paper available), the effectiveness and low costs of online training is overwhelming. Only training that is heavily dependent on human contact will continue in a face-to-face environment. Some interviewees expect to see a revolution in the way companies support and educate their staff in the post-lockdown world. Finding the right balance between online and face-to-face training remains a challenge. 

GSK and Merck experienced significant benefits with online learning 

According to the interviewed L&D specialists, one major benefit of online training is a massive cut in costs due to the company not having to cover for travel, catering and hosting both trainers and trainees. The multinationals also enjoy the greater accessibility of online training. With online learning programs, companies can teach global employees simultaneously, rather than being limited by location. This has also led to the creation of new communities within organizations. Other mentioned benefits were less disruptions in workflow and the fact that remote working is better for the environment.

Online learning brings multiple new challenges

Despite the many positive aspects of remote training, the interviewed specialists also stressed the challenges of the new format. Many mentioned that online trainers struggled with learner engagement, social interaction and providing a personal touch. Christian Borel, Director of Digital Academy at Merck stated “In front of a camera, body language is not always clear enough to know how people feel or think and perhaps it remains superficial”. As L&D teams figure out the right balance of online- and face-to-face training, these challenges will have a strong influence on their decisions. 

What best practices are starting to emerge?

As recommendations, creating learner engagement and immersion are clearly seen as imperative to make remote learning a success. Some interviewees suggested to offer team-based learning, the option to vary complexity, and adding means of acknowledgment like leader boards and badges. “Remote learning in a team is helpful, because self-study only provides your own perception of the training”, said Jean-François Rousseau, Learning & Development Business Partner at GSK. “Discussing, sharing what you have experienced adds value, as long as it happens in a safe environment”.

Read more about the key benefits and challenges of remote working, developing a long-term best practice, and recommendations for online engagement in the white paper. The full version can be accessed for free at

About Inchainge

Inchainge (based in the Netherlands) develops and markets the world’s leading simulations and learning programs in Supply Chain Management and Supply Chain Finance. Inchainge aims to help students and professionals all around the world to become value chain leaders.