Are virtual Business Simulations as good as face-to-face? The pros and cons examined.

Article by Scott Thompson, 14 Dec 2020

There are really two questions here – efficiency and effectiveness. We would suggest from our experiences (regularly running both formats) that Virtual Business Simulations can be up to 50% more efficient, and provided they are well planned and facilitated, not any less effective than face-to-face. 

Here is why......

Efficiency

In terms of efficiency there are two really big positives:

  • Venue costs – no airfares or other travel costs. No venue/hotel hire. These can be major.
  • Time efficiency – no time lost travelling or jet lag to overcome. Easier to chunk up sessions to fit into busy participant (and facilitator) schedules.

However there are a couple of negatives:

  • Technology Tax – we have found you need to allow up to 25% longer for the overheads of using your chosen virtual technology platform.
  • Facilitation – as the number of participants grow, you may need a dedicated facilitator just to manage the virtual technology and participant connectivity. 

Effectiveness

In terms of effectiveness there are some significant positives too:

  • Learning experience – multiple short sessions can allow for better time to reflect and deepen learning. Also enables great discussions between team members between the sessions, often self-organized!
  • Guest participation – for example, it is much easier to include virtual guest speakers and senior executives.

There are however some negatives:

  • Connectivity - unstable internet connections for participants working from home can disrupt their learning experience. Note however this can be largely mitigated through prior planning and pre-session connectivity testing.
  • Spontaneity - more difficult for a facilitator to respond to questions during a session as they have to join and leave a team’s personal breakout room. Also harder for facilitators to eavesdrop and respond. It’s also more effort to communicate something quickly to the whole group mid-session based on something which you have seen.

Conclusions

So there we are – in terms of efficiencies the advantages of virtual simulations significantly out weigh their disadvantages.  However in terms of virtual simulation effectiveness some things will be better but some things will not be quite as good so overall it adds up to about the same level of effectiveness compared to face-to+face provided the simulations are well planned and skilfully facilitated. 

That is why we would conclude that Virtual Simulations can be 50% more efficient and not any less effective tthan face-to-face (pre-covid).

Another important consideration, which we should not overlook is that in any kind of lockdown, virtual may be the ONLY option as you may not have the luxury of face-to-face sessions. So virtual may be the only viable way you can keep your staff, managers and leaders sharp, upskilled, current and ready to keep your customers coming back and beat your existing (and new) competition.

It is also worth noting that virtual events will be less likely to have to be cancelled or rescheduled due to new lockdowns or restrictions than a future face-to-face event.So if you want to guarantee that an event will take place in today's post pandemic world then plan it to be virtual right from the start!

For more guidance on how and when to run Simulations virtually see this article.


If you would like to find out more about our comprehensive range of Virtual Business Simulations please Contact us

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Scott Thompson

Scott is an keen advocate for technology in learning and, as Technology Director at Business Simulations Ltd, is responsible for overseeing the archiecture, design and development of all our platforms.

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