Leading L&D for a hybrid workplace

jigsaw puzzle

According to CIPD research conducted in February this year only 18% of organisations think their learning strategy, investment and resourcing will go back to what it was before the pandemic.

The report also states that “…the switch from traditional forms of learning to digital has in cases improved the way individuals support each other.”

It’s been inspiring to see how companies have so easily adapted and switched to a digital learning approach. Indeed, more so for those companies that were at first reluctant to make that change before embracing digital learning and successes that have come with it.

However, with all still up in the air surrounding return to work programmes and many companies adopting hybrid working policies indefinitely how can you plan your L&D going forward?

Planning hybrid L&D programmes

The past 18 months has accelerated the pace of change that was happening. Companies have been forced to ensure employees workers can work remotely and have little argument for insisting people must work in an office.

Therefore, surely a hybrid workplace calls for hybrid or blended learning programmes going forward, tailoring what methods you use relative to the needs of your individual workplaces. This is supported by our recent LinkedIn poll highlighting that almost two-thirds of people will be adopting a blended approach for the rest of this year.

The puzzle pieces of your L&D programme

Whether you do opt for one or a blend of several learning methods we examine them all to help you choose what’s right for you:

Online learning

So, by online we are talking about e-learning programmes. This can include off the shelf as well as custom built. The key advantage to companies is the ability to roll out the content to large numbers at a relatively low cost and even on a global scale. It’s favoured for compliance learning and often for subjects regarding industry regulation.

However, even with better assessments and built-in questions, there is still a challenge of ensuring people are retaining what they’ve learnt. Whilst it can be great for learning theory and knowledge it is limited when looking to practice behavioural and practical skills.

Virtual classroom training

The shining star of COVID disruption. “Zoom” became a verb synonymous with a video call in the same way Hoover has. It became the platform of choice for friends and families to keep connected and the same was true in the corporate training world because of its superior functionality.

Virtual training has been crucial at helping organisations provide alternatives to physical workshops.

It’s been fantastic at reducing borders, eliminating travel time and costs, carbon footprints and connecting people from geographically separated locations.

Since March last year, we’ve been working together with a global shopping company on their virtual training platforms. As one of the early adopters, we worked together to switch employees to virtual sessions across multiple continents, ensuring consistency of training, bringing people together from different teams and departments offering the ability to share and harvest ideas, opening discussions that would not have happened usually.  We organised one of the world’s first virtual Scrum Master sessions and continue to deliver virtual training programmes for all our clients, a learning method favoured by many – now if not before.

However, the switch to virtual was not without challenges. Courses had to be reworked and getting the length right is key to avoid “Zoom-fatigue”.

For many companies, the transition from face to face to virtual was slower but once they did try it the results and feedback were much better than hoped. One thing is for certain that the rise in digital learning is certainly here to stay in whatever capacity works for your organisation

Face to face training

The “traditional” training and one that I’m sure many are keen to see a return too.  We know with the work with our clients that lots of people enjoy this approach to learning physically with others so they can share ideas, work on challenges together and being away from their desk (wherever that is). It’s also easier to manage breakout discussions, have an engaged room and allows people to connect and network.

However, it does come with its challenges – there are additional expenses involved in running the sessions (trainer/delegate travel time, costs, venue hire etc) and it’s not always great for geographically dispersed workforces to organise. Sourcing an in-house trainer may work well to combat some of these issues.

Blended learning

A true winner for many companies! Combining more than one approach to formal training provides greater flexibility, extra stimulus by allowing you to put together programmes using different elements e.g. 2-hour virtual sessions, 5-minute videos, online coursework or small group physical meetups.

However, do consider the time involved in setting this up, managing the content and ensuring that it is accessible to all depending on their situation. For example, people in areas with low internet bandwidth might not be able to participate. Workaround this by starting with the end in mind and checking technology when designing the programme.

Getting it right

Whichever methods you adopt and use, we recommend you capture data and evaluate to understand the impacts of the learning delivered. With our experience of capturing, managing, and analysing evaluations for our clients we know how vital this information is to adjust and drive your L&D strategy.

Good luck with your L&D puzzle! We always start with the corners first!