In the midst of Corona euphoria, I sit here in front of my regular desk, at home in Berlin, because I’m an online coach who is relieved that Corona has at least one advantage – one that I believe will give the German economy a real boost. Here in front of my trusty laptop, there is only the screen between myself and my clients. I’m just a mouse click away or tucked up safe and sound in your pocket or bag for when you need me.

You see, I help experts and entrepreneurs from literally all over the world to prepare for basically any English language situation at work. For some it is preparation for a tricky English language client meeting, for others it might be a slightly more important presentation or a potentially stressful keynote speech. With a native speaker at your side, the stress dissolves.

Due to cancelled events, business trips, networking events and training worldwide, companies are suddenly looking to introduce remote working and online learning. Finally, companies are forced to recognize and appreciate the sense and advantages of working online.

MINDSET CHANGE

Those of you that have been listening to my podcast for a while now, will know that I am a British-German communications coach from England. I have always been rather flabbergasted (very shocked) about how RELUCTANT Germany is technologically. After all the engineers here are incredibly successful in the car industry for example and yet internet coverage is – er – well let’s just say that there is room for improvement. (A drum roll please for the English art of understatement – yes this and my black sense of humour, do go back to my British heritage)

It’s true, I am truly delighted that managers at CSuite level are forced to see new work as a doable, practical, realistic solution. Clearly old school managers will be fraught with the lack of control and might even wonder if their role as a manager or leader is jeopardised, but slow down, Honey, it’s not that we don’t need you, but the modern workforce needs something else., Soon, you will realise that remote working really can be an efficient working method. As one of the first English trainers to qualify as an online coach, yes I am that old, I have been working as an online coach in international companies for over 20 years and in the technology sector, online language training is as natural as brushing your teeth. It’s standard. They get it.

ONLINE LEARNING IS MORE THAN JUST A WORKAROUND

But online coaching is more than just a workaround. This is exactly why converted online learners are so convinced and enthusiastic about the variety, flexibility, individuality and independence of this learning model. Although in a classroom or meeting room situation you could show videos, listen to audios, do writing practice and so on, it’s kind of clunky, but online it’s all very accessible, just one click away. To my mind, or in my opinion, conventional language training in a meeting room tends to take longer in terms of getting their attention and making learning progress.  You see, in the middle of everyday life, where your workday is a race between meetings, an intimidating backlog of e-mails, time-consuming tasks and necessary exchanges, it is no wonder that it is hard to switch suddenly from German to English – online this process is faster and a lot more effective. 

MEETING ROOM LETHARGY & feeling like a fraud

And let’s be honest for a moment here, hand on heart, what thoughts go through your head when you hear “meeting room”? Exactly – just the thought of having to go to a meeting room puts a massive dampener on learning energy and openness. Why? Well it’s where people are accustomed to spending the majority of the time listening, isn’t it? If we’re brutally honest. But for Business English training or communication coaching to be effective, real-time conversation is the be-all and end-all. It’s speaking practice that most professionals need support with. Put people in a stuffy meeting room with dreadful coffee and the only movement is to reach for the biscuit that you eat purely because they’re there.

That’s why I no longer teach in company meeting rooms or think tanks – it’s a matter of principle. No no, find me online because, “To be honest, it feels like I’m ripping off my client when I’m sitting in a meeting room, knowing that online coaching would be so much more effective. After all, what I want to see is language learning success, my heart sings when I see my clients communicate with conviction, confidence and character – I want more than just a traditional solution, I want my client to excel. I don’t see the point of doing things how they have always been done – I want success – for me it’s either online or outdoors.

MYTHS AND REPUTATION OF ELEARNING

Online learning is often seen as lonely, boring or pointless and this opinion, or reputation, goes back to the rather lame learning experiences that people made with the first online learning solutions that were mostly used for somewhat dry topics. These so-called evergreen topics (safety, health, employee law, etc) were mostly standalone solutions with no support and little or no interaction. Experts and entrepreneurs love to learn, they are hungry for knowledge about their industry, competitors, new trends and much more but they rarely get excited about click-throughs. You see, the brain works best when it gets the opportunity to really engage with and think hard about new knowledge. It’s usually a trainer or coach that provides the right exercises and challenges to really tackle the new information and put it into context. It is this social element that enables and accelerates learning. It is this depth that enables the long-term memory to get going. With a smart, agile coach at your side via your screen, there is really personal support but without risk of infection, getting stuck in a traffic jam or that meeting room motivation lull. Remote working and online learning is more than a workaround, it is a logical, practical solution that is good for the environment, good for staff confidence and loyalty of your most valuable asset, particularly in today’s fiercely competitive employment market.

FLEXIBLE, INSTANT, PERSONAL INTERACTION

And especially now, when many business trips are cancelled at short notice, we tend to communicate via e-mail and web conferencing. Ultimately, despite Corona, projects need to stay on track. When English is not the first language, as is usually the case for international projects, web conferencing can often be quite a stressful experience if your English isn’t up to speed and it can be confusing for participants from different cultures. This is why it is all the more important to encourage employees to improve their English skills. If you want to work internationally, you would be advised to cut costs elsewhere – but please, do yourself a favour, don’t be tight and stingy when it comes to language training – because litigation and lost contracts are a hell of a lot more expensive, stressful and hurtful to your brand.

OFF THE SHELF ALTERNATIVE TO ONE TO ONE COACHING

Online language training platforms are fairly standard, but can be a wise investment if you have a mainstream business with little innovation, little development in your industry or if staff loyalty is close to civil servant (Beamter) status. However, when your organisation needs to move faster to stay in the game, you should offer the most individual and flexible language training solution that your budget allows for. Through targeted ON THE JOB coaching you can retain the best talent and attract new ones more easily – because it’s exactly such a commitment to learning and development on an individual level that speaks volumes about you as an employer. After all, your best employees want one thing more than anything else – to be the very best that they can be in their career. So in terms of employee attractiveness, this is a no brainer.

HOW DOES ONLINE COACHING ACTUALLY WORK?

So how does it work? Not all online learning or e-learning is the same, but in terms of language learning, here is an insight for you as to how I do it. In online coaching or Einzelcoaching, every expert has the unique opportunity to iron out any mistakes that they have without being self-conscious about making mistakes, the employee alone decides what exactly they want to be able to say and how they want to come across – so your employees learn faster, to communicate better, building stronger relationships, based on trust and support. There is no need to exclude new mothers either because they can log in to training from their home office or smartphone, the same is true for experts that are working part-time or on maternity leave. They just schedule online, log in and improve their communication skills without the logistics, aggravation or time-consuming travel that classroom training imposes on participants.

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